Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Linux Business

Linux To Take Over The Low-End PC Market? 391

An anonymous reader writes "Desktop Linux has a recent commentary on the inevitable growth of Linux on the cheaper end of the desktop market. According to the article, the availability of under-$500 usable hardware, combined with a free operating system, free desktop office products, and free or cheap 'software as a service' online applications, opens a new market in which Microsoft cannot compete. 'Microsoft will fight this trend tooth and nail. It will cut prices to the point where it'll be bleeding ink on some of its product lines. And Windows XP is going to stick around much longer than Microsoft ever wanted it to. Still, it won't be enough.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Linux To Take Over The Low-End PC Market?

Comments Filter:
  • by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) * on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:20AM (#21640279) Journal
    Everything Microsoft has on the market pre-Vista has long since been amortized, I think. And I'm not sure ink is what MSFT has in its veins...
  • News that matters? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by iBod ( 534920 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:33AM (#21640365)
    TFA is just a rather poorly informed opinion piece and a lot of wishful thinking.

    Since when did this consititute 'news'?
  • Annoyed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gigiya ( 1022729 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:36AM (#21640395)
    I realize I should expect no less from an article on, but I'm extremely annoyed by comments like "Still, it won't be enough." I can just imagine a typical Linux fanboy laughing diabolically while typing it. While the article has valid points, comments like that are wishful thinking and immature conjecture.
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:37AM (#21640397)
    My biggest complaint wasn't the fact that Vista was a bug ridden piece of filth the likes of which made windows ME look good, but the fact they have Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, and Ultimate... oh and Enterprise too that no bugger seems to be using. An OS which will cost you $100 to $400.

    I'm not going to say $100 isn't reasonable for the OS that runs your PC. It's a fair price. But the version game is unacceptable. So hopefully some of the linux based PCs will drive down prices of MS's OS down to reasonable and sane levels.

  • by rolfc ( 842110 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:38AM (#21640411) Homepage
    And dont forget that they just make money on Windows and Office, cut of the moneyflow from them and it will go very fast.
  • Apples and apples (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:49AM (#21640477) Homepage
    They're comparing Granny Smiths apples to Golden Delicious apples:

    Set of computers that can run all required email and office apps (the latest versions) along with a server to support the mail etc, all based on Linux


    Set of computers that can run all required email and office apps (the latest versions) along with a server to support the mail etc, all based on Vista

    The only difference is that the base specs required for one is much higher than the other, which is the whole point of the article.

    Okay, so it might not be as viable in a huge company where everyone (especially admins) already have Windows training, but for a ~100 person or less SME (Small/Medium Enterprise) then the huge savings on costs would be a boon.
  • by drsmithy ( 35869 ) <drsmithy@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Monday December 10, 2007 @08:53AM (#21640503)

    But the version game is unacceptable.

    Uh, why ? It's not like price discrimination is an uncommon market phenomenon...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:03AM (#21640579)
    Not to mention the absolute huge, gargantuan cost of the total image loss the vista disaster has caused micro$oft. They're the best marketeers the Free Software ever could dream up.

    It's funny you can download better operating systems for free than what the richest corporation on earth can sell you. Then again, companies aren't there to make products, they're there to make money.
  • by SargentDU ( 1161355 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:08AM (#21640605)
    Well, even at the huge company, having to buy new hardware to handle a Vista upgrade vs. using existing hardware with Linux sounds like an enormous cost savings. Linux boxes with KDE is enough like windows XP or earlier to have little learning curve too. The only kicker is a package for coordinating calendars, etc.
  • by jacquesm ( 154384 ) <j&ww,com> on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:09AM (#21640615) Homepage
    that's right on the money. I think that the 'big change' will come the day there is a linux distro out there that will have wine installed and functional to the point where it will run office 2003 out of the box. When that's achieved there will be a large amount of people in a position to switch.

    All those people complaining about 'not being able to run their games' forget one thing: Computers were not designed to be game playing machines, they were designed as productivity tools. That the gaming market was able to flourish on the back of the roll out of the PC was a side effect, not the main cause. The spreadsheet was and is probably the biggest single 'invention' in the software world, Dan Bricklin did more for the 'gamers' by getting the PC adopted by the millions than any games programmer ever did.
  • by module0000 ( 882745 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:12AM (#21640627)
    Not all free software is "free" per-say. Look at MySQL, making money while we all use their software. That's just one example, so here are a few more that produce free products while still earning significant income:

    Sun Microsystems
    Mozilla Foundation
    Spiceworks(a personal favorite)
  • by Sterling Christensen ( 694675 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:12AM (#21640635)
    Many slashdotters fail to make any distinction between the honest hard working programmers/researchers who deserve their pay and the not so honest business execs, lawyers, and lobbiests on some of whom Microsoft's bad behavior can be blamed, lumping them all together as a single entity: "M$".

    Nobody's hoping to see software engineers starve, it's just easy to get carried away hating Microsoft for all the monopolizing, anti-FOSS, and other damage it's responsible for. Can you really blame the GP for having no sympathy for Microsoft's bottom line?
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:18AM (#21640675)
    You have it almost exactly backwards. Speaking from bitter experience.

    Their costs towards their IT infrastructure simply aren't large enough to worry about license costs. Microsoft already have this market. SMEs simply buy PCs with windows already installed, and use SBS on the back end. Their savings from Linux are in the thousands, not hundreds of thousands or millions. It isn't worth their while to switch. Especially given the fact they can't afford to hire competent admins and so are stuck with whomever is locally available.

    Large companies on the other hand, are a completely different kettle of fish. They can save millions by making use of Linux, and that's exactly what they do. The CTO or CIO's may or may not be aware of it but pretty much every large company out there has Linux just about everywhere from file servers to RDBMS servers to web application servers. They can afford to hire competent admins who can run Linux as well as their other Unix systems and who understand the mathematics of I.T. systems.

    The market for Linux is not SMEs. I've been there and tried to sell it. The real market for Linux is on the big end. Multinationals, governments etc. They can save vast sums.
  • by Bright Apollo ( 988736 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:19AM (#21640681) Journal
    I think there's a potential goldmine for Microsoft just looming off to the side.

    If Microsoft made Windows 2000 Pro available for $20 per copy in 2008, then shuttered it; and Windows XP Pro/64 Pro for $40 in 2008, then 2009, then shuttered it, imagine how easy it would be for many 'cloned' copies to get right. Now imagine how easy it would be for Microsoft to compete against Linux in the low-end market. Microsoft would be able to say -- which Linux cannot -- "Our OS works with Microsoft Office natively, including Exchange". The real cash cow is untouched, i.e. Office, and Microsoft finally gets into the "sell the blades, not the razor" business once and for all.


  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:20AM (#21640691) Homepage
    you are almost completely incorrect. Everyone that buys an E-machine or other discount budget pc is happy with them. It plays the silly card games they want, it goes online, it let's them type a letter. Aunt gertie is not going to be entering any UT3 deathmatches soon or getting herself a WoW addiction going. She is happy with that Pentuim III 500 she bought back in 1999 it does everything she wants and windows 98 works fine for her. (in face she get's less infections as most new viruses will not run on a non unicode machine)

    If I upgrade her to A old thrown away G3 mac and she can do everything she did before, she will STILL be happy.

    That is what the $200.00 walmart PC is for... Aunt Gertie, Grandma Fluffles, and creepy uncle Fred. I have supported far more happy low power pc owners than I have seen happy high power pc owners.

    Funny part, most "high power" pc owners think sony Vaio = high end. sad reality is that it's low end just trendy.

    Low end pc's are for the bulk of the computer users. They do not play games, they don't run bit torrent and watch movies on their computer. They check email, write and print out letters, do online banking and play solitaire.

    For them, these computers are typically 300-400% faster than the 10 year old monster they are using now.
  • Re:Perceived delay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:23AM (#21640723)
    OpenOficce would take a full 3 minutes to start!! Because they had configured a 128MB system with a 1GB Swap.

    You didn't really need to add "with a 1GB swap" there.

    Sure, Linux will run happily on much older hardware. Doesn't mean you can usefully do any typical desktop-type tasks on it - unless you're prepared to forego GUI-based office applications.
  • by Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:38AM (#21640881)

    No. I doubt you will find many of us who object to the idea of having money. It is the methods of getting it and the attitudes that MS have that people here may not be happy with.
    In a place like /. I am unable to speak for others, so I shall speak for myself.

    I don't like the fact that software is sent out before it is ready, just because some manager types want it to be released now.
    If I buy clothes, I assume things are made and they didn't just ship me the cloth and expect me to sew it together myself.

    When they release a new product, they will tell us all how fantastic it is.
    A couple of years later, when it is about ready for use, they drop it and bring out the next item. They then tell us how this fixes the many shortcomings of its precescessor. I am told how bad it was. I know that in a couple of years, I will be told how rubbish this one is too.

    Microsoft bears at least some, and perhaps much, of the blame for the mess we are all in with patents and copyrights.
    So they think that GPL is socialism and thus theft? I think that Closed source is protectionist racketeering and thus theft.

    When they were small and growing, they relied on the fact that lots of people "borrowed" their software. This enabled them to grow. It was profiting from theft.
    Now they are in a position of market dominance, they object to what they once relied on. Stealing is wrong, so when people ask me for a dodgy copy of Office, I point them to a free alternative. I object to their hypocrisy, not the fact that they object to people stealing.

    If I buy something, I expect to be able to use what I buy. I expect to be able to sell what I buy, when I no longer want it. I do this with books and cars, so why are MS different?

    As I started, I don't object to making money. I just object to some methods of extortion and hypocrisy. I work for money and would love to have more. I will not hit people over the head to get it. My basic objection is that they are no longer a software company. They are a protection racket.

  • by BESTouff ( 531293 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:40AM (#21640897)

    While there is nothing to do to stop it. Having Linux run on Low End systems may not be good overall.

    Wrong. That's how Windows got its foothold: it started taking the lower-end of the workstation market. In fact that's often how a newcomer wins into any market: by being cheaper.
    I think Microsoft should be afraid.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#21640913)
    Just to note, Microsoft isn't the richest corporation on earth. And as it happens, the richest corporation on earth (Walmart) is now selling Linux PCs.

    Linux is a rather high-quality OS used for ultra-high-end applications in HPC. Yet millions of people will now perceive it as the low-end. Strange.

  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#21640987) Homepage Journal

    Linux is a rather high-quality OS used for ultra-high-end applications in HPC. Yet millions of people will now perceive it as the low-end. Strange.
    It's actually both of those things. The cool thing about Linux is that it's like the Swiss Army knife of operating systems. It can scale down to the tiniest mobile device with a low end ARM processor up to the fastest supercomputing clusters in the world. You can use it as a low-end desktop OS or as a high-end workstation OS. It can run file server appliance or as a compute cluster for scientific research.

    That's the power, innovation, and advantage of open source -- you have the code, the right to modify and distribute it, so you can adopt it for whatever application suits your needs.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @09:54AM (#21641049) Homepage Journal
    It's not uncommon, but it isn't fair (or, taking more objective standpoint: "is perceived unfair by a major percentage of customers") - you're paying 400% the base price to get like 40% extra functionality. Besides, people don't perceive the high-end versions as extended variants of the low-end base system, but the low-end versions as purposedly crippled high-end base.

    This still works as profit source in the short run, but it annoys the customer base, undermines loyalty, encourages seeking alternatives. And once alternatives are found, you lose in the long run. You squeeze $50 for Home Premium from an user today, and lose the whole sale and the customer entirely tomorrow.

    Except the analysis hardly ever takes into account reasons why people switch to other OS, and even if it does, it comes to entirely wrong conclusions (they are cheaper, they have better marketing) while your own faults - trying to squeeze last penny off the customer - are hardly ever taken into account as the 'real evil'. People hate being cheated and perceive this as cheating. And it doesn't matter you don't and your marketing people will explain to your CEO that it really isn't cheating. For people, it is, and people will hate you for that. And will jump the ship at the first opportunity... or steal from the thieves, not a crime to many.
  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:01AM (#21641097)
    You keep using that word "Desktop". I think we should forget about the year where linux would become ready for the Desktop. By the time it would be there, Desktops will be outfashioned anyway. Instead, focus on the year where linux will be ready for mobile devices, which is more or less NOW. The advantage of mobile devices is the fact that driver support can be optimized just for the device itself, and a small set of extension cards. Just look at the new Nokia handheld computers and the EEE. Also, it is the range where people will accept a low end system if it also means they will get a better battery time. And it is a range where minimal use of memory is needed!

    What is also good for linux in this market, is that Windows seems to not be able to easily adjust to different form factors. They try to put windows XP on the EEE, but everything will be unreadable on the small screen! You can make icons and fonts bigger, but does that help? Making an interface for mobile devices requires a 'paradigm shift' (to put it in managerspeak), the Xandros developers for the EEE got that right with their simple menu. Nokia got that right. But even Windows CE doesn't get it, still thinking to much in the good-ol' "Desktop" idea.

  • by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:08AM (#21641189)
    > It's funny you can download better operating systems for free than what the richest corporation on earth can sell you

    If you really could, everybody would have done so already. If free operating systems really were "better" in every way, nobody would pay for a worse one if they can get something better for free. The problem with most free operating systems is that they don't run the software that people want to use (Office, Outlook, most games etc). Until they do, they won't be regarded as 'better' by the 95% of non-technical computer users.
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:13AM (#21641245)
    Define 'better'.

    Not all customers think free is better, especially those who are long term Microsoft houses. Not just them though, there are still a lot of proprietary Unix houses out there who are a long way from thinking Linux is what they need.

    The OS itself is almost unimportant, it's the service that goes with it that matters. corporations never did just buy site licenses, they bought massive support contracts. Linux needs to convince a lot of companies that are happy with their current arrangement that its ok to switch.

    Ok, a lot of these Microsoft only companies are rejecting Vista, but that's not a statement of personal dislike, it's a business decision. Vista had a number of problems even before it left the gate. First, it's new. That alone meant that many businesses would hold off, nobody wants to be the first in the water. Secondly, it's not alone in the marketplace. Third, it's not actually that much better then XP (I think in usability terms its a step back, but there must be security improvements under the hood).

    Many companies currently using XP will eventually migrate to Vista, there's no doubt there, if only because their bespoke software or other licensed software requires the windows platform, and XP will eventually be seen as too old as hardware changes. I wouldn't be expecting this for a few years though.
  • More AC BS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hellfire ( 86129 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `vdalived'> on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:37AM (#21641539) Homepage
    I love how an AC has posted this obviously inflamatory drivel, and continue to marvel that the mods mod crap like this up.

    1) The US and European union have both declared MS to be a monopoly.
    2) A monopoly in legal terms is not someone who owns 100% of the market, but owns an overwhelming portion of the market. Windows is at what, 90%? 95%?
    3) Worse still, MS has been shown, time and time again, that they use that monopoly influence to bully PC vendors. MS hasn't been able to use that influence as much because people in government are watching them, and because the PC vendors are finally getting some balls.
  • by moranar ( 632206 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @10:55AM (#21641767) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, those honest programmers are working for a dishonest corp, which makes them a bit less than honest. With their intelligence, they could do better. Next excuse, please.
  • by HW_Hack ( 1031622 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:15AM (#21642043)
    The issue with M$ is not that they make money or that they are the dominate OS ---- When you combine incompetence + arrogance + Ruthless Biz practices --- not just once - but over and over .... people tend to catch on and come to resent this.

    A "new technology" coming up from the bottom (low cost) is the traditional way to upset a market. And M$ knows this.

    Programmers don't need to work for free -- low cost PC devices will still require lots of programming (integration of SW and improved applications + continual OS tweaks) from cradle to grave. They will be employed by the OEM and 3rd party support companies. Just because you (a tech head) can get Linux for free has no correlation to selling a product that has a tailor made + polished SW load. It just means the total SW + OS package needs to be awesome and under say $35 per machine. And many people would pay some sort of a very modest ($8) subscription fee for the latest tweaks + upgrades + support.

    Last week I got to play with an EEPC --- very neat device for $300

  • by smchris ( 464899 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:18AM (#21642079)
    Yup, just waiting for the public paradigm shift. The three truths are:

    1. Granny wants email and the web.
    2. Granny might use to type up a letter if keeping the printer running isn't too challenging. Maybe upload pictures from her camera for processing if she's really hip. Downloading and printing some .pdf tax forms? I don't know. I think that's Hacker Granny.
    3. No way, no how Granny is going to _maintain_ her computer -- Windows OR linux -- so that's a wash and we can just quit agonizing about the issue.

    And "Granny" could probably account for half the home computer users out there. So why should she pay for Windows, much less Office? She isn't using the capabilities of free linux.

    And, yes, any piece of crap new computer is fine for those things. Most computers from the last six years would be fine. The hardware is a commodity. All it has to do is run linux.

    This just has to become common wisdom.

  • by WhiteWolf666 ( 145211 ) <> on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:20AM (#21642107) Homepage Journal
    I don't have the numbers to prove it, however, I'm guessing that Microsoft's efficiency is starting to approach that of the U.S. military's.

    Still on top of its game, however, in terms of $$$ spent per line of code, Microsoft seems to be incredibly wasteful. That's okay for the military, since a military focuses on redundancy, also know as "waste", or "inefficiency".

    For a corporation, however, particularly a public company, this suggests a degree of illness/sickness. The question is, given Microsoft's huge coffers, monopoly grip in the OS market, and dominance in a variety of other markets; will they be able to turn it around?

    If Microsoft continues to stagnate for 20-30 years, they will no long be on top. 6 years ago, this would have just been wishful thinking, however, keep in mind just how little Microsoft's technology has advanced since then, and extrapolate that over 30 years.

    Still, a lot can change in 30 years, and it would be foolish to predict what is going to happen. Either way, however, Linux/Apple encroaching upon Microsoft will improve the consumer's experience. Either we'll get better software from MS, or we'll switch to something better from another company.
  • by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:36AM (#21642333)
    One of the myriad of benefits of owning a monopoly is the ability to set price. (price maker) Economic history is full of examples where the monopoly owner temporarily lowers prices to eliminate low-end competitors.

    This low-end desktop market is owned by Microsoft. They allow it to exist to give the illusion of competition. If they want that segment, they'll take it simply by throwing some money at it and eliminate the competitor. Meanwhile, the low-end provider scrapes by. Novell certainly isn't going to beat Microsoft. Mark Shuttleworth doesn't have the resources to do it either.

    Where it counts, Linux distros are simply a negotiating tool for enterprises/agencies to get a lower price/bigger bribe out of Microsoft. That lower price is STILL HIGHER than the price in a vaguely competitive market.

    Vista? Oh yeah, you'll be able to pirate it just like XP because every software company knows that's the best way to introduce future customers.
  • by spxero ( 782496 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:37AM (#21642363) Journal
    ...the Vaio SZ range is shit-hot.

    So you're staying it's a steaming pile of crap?
  • by Frantix ( 1043000 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @11:56AM (#21642647) Homepage
    Honestly I think market acceptance would be greatly help if (as I repeat over and over) the typical Linux users attitude would change. Hate to say it but the hardcore Linux group tends to have a superiority complex and rather than answer questions, they become overly sensitive, defensive and generally talk down to people because they can't get a feature to work. I'm not saying all are like this but I've read a lot of forums where new users are talked to like they're stupid rather than just a new user in a foreign playground.
  • by nem75 ( 952737 ) <> on Monday December 10, 2007 @12:00PM (#21642715)

    If you really could, everybody would have done so already. If free operating systems really were "better" in every way, nobody would pay for a worse one if they can get something better for free.

    If everybody actively had to get an OS after buying a computer the percentages and general perception about what's better and best would be different, but, well, Windows OEM, MS Office, OpenOffice, Photoshop, Gimp, car analogies, assumptions, yadda yadda yadda... we all know where this leads so I'll just stop right here.

  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @12:36PM (#21643325) Homepage Journal
    "I can go to OfficeMax and buy a printer that will
    "just" work for Linux. For Windows I have to install
    drivers and then figure out what went wrong when the
    something inevitably goes wrong with the windows setup.

    What I can't do is buy some random piece of crap."

    Most printers don't say "will work with Linux" on the box. I can not go to office Max and grab and HP or Epson printer and be pretty sure they both just work.
    What I can not do is find a Scanner, fax, printer that will just work with out a lot of tricks.

    Most random piece of crap printers will hook up to a Windows box and work. With Linux it takes effort.

    I can make Linux work for me. But if you want the average person to think of Linux as an option for them then YES VIRGINA you have to have the option of going OfficeMAX or even WalMart and buying the $49.00 craptastic inkjet printer and having it work.
    What we are talking about here are LOW END PCs. People are going to want to hook up random crap to the Low End PC and have it just work.

  • by LS ( 57954 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @01:03PM (#21643781) Homepage
    I know several developers who work for Microsoft, and they are invariably intelligent - the way a cop is intelligent. They have a certain type of intelligence, but not a general intelligence that informs them at a greater level about the scheme of things. Just like cops, they also think that they are doing a great thing for the world and are helping out the misguided unwashed masses by unleashing their work upon the world. They are deluded pompous bastards, make no mistake. I can't imagine what their lawyers and marketing people must be like. good grief
  • by notabaggins ( 1099403 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @01:15PM (#21643985)

    Yes, Microsoft makes money on its software. I still fail to see why this is a bad thing. Does anyone believe Microsoft should gather several thousand software engineers together and then ask them to work for free?

    So what, exactly, is the argument again? Everyone on this planet has a right to be payed for their hard work EXCEPT someone who spends 4 years at a university learning how to develop software? They should work for free, so that their hard work can then be given away for free?
    Sigh. Do we have to go over this again?

    It's "free" as in "freedom". Not "free" as in "free beer".

    Locking up and hiding code in the "proprietary" model is actually the one that fails. Every proprietary software program out there sprouts endless "features" to drive upgrades until you reach a point of utter unusability. The point of the proprietary model is money, not usability. And it never can be. Once a product is done, then what? You can't sell any more copies can you? So you beat on it senselessly until you have word processors doing spreadsheets and spreadsheets doing browsing and browsers doing email and email doing viruses.

    In an open model, there may be many people who do not get "paid" per se. They may write code that does something useful for them then contribute it back. They do get benefit in that they end up with software that satisfies their needs. Others who have the same needs also benefit. How is that a loss?

    There's no incentive for throwing everything and the kitchen sink into the software. If nobody needs "feature X", nobody bothers to write the code. Open software will, inexorably, move toward an optimal state. Only those "features" somebody finds useful enough to do something about (for her or his own benefit first) will enter the code base.

    (Yes, that's the abstract ideal and reality sometimes goes wonky but I stand by the concept)

    Further, one of the latest driving forces in the open/free software world are companies. They are paying their programmers. And they are obtaining benefit from the work of those programmers. But by opening up the code, they also obtain benefit from the work of others who contribute something which that person needs or sees usefulness in. Said programmer--regardless of who he or she works for and is or is not paid by--gains benefit in having useful software.

    What's happening is the "shrink wrap" model--which is a recent phenomena in the field--is dying. And it's not even the bigger part of the field. Most programmers (I've seen figures as high as 95%) are doing "in house" software. They're not going to lose their jobs if, say, Quicken tanks and is replaced by some FOSS software. If all "shrink wrap" software tanks, if the whole sector disappears, the impact to the field would likely be less than the implosion of the "tech bubble".

    It's a transient model that's dying out. Big whoopee.

    Software is about getting things done. Not about driving upgrade money. That's why MS (and others) will ultimately fail. The need to drive upgrades corrupts software. Ultimately, it will fail to be useful. Software is a tool, not an end in itself. You make money by enabling people to get something useful done. MySQL does it. And they give their software away.

    (For that matter, have you noticed the cell phone business? They're giving away handsets. Are they crazy? No, they're making huge profits. Think about it.)

    Finally, and I think importantly, the FOSS world imitates the way we do science. Information is open and shared. That process has catapulted our civilization from horse draw carriages to me sitting here sending messages via satellite Internet and in only about two centuries. The system works.

    Or hadn't you noticed the Internet? Open protocols. The people who created them were paid but the information is belched out freely all over the place for anybody and his dog to use. And it works.

    Funny that...
  • by Burz ( 138833 ) on Monday December 10, 2007 @02:23PM (#21645131) Homepage Journal
    To the customer, they are selling a one-off jobber with a combination of programs and UI features that represent no platform in particular. Even if they have looked at other "Linux" PCs, they are not likely to see something they recognize in a highly customized Enlightenment desktop. If they buy the system they

    Linux boosters are showing their derangement here: Promoting "Linux" to end-users is like promoting Gecko to people who want a browser. But Linux and Gecko are effectively invisible to non-techies. The difference is that Mozilla are not stupid enough to work on only the Gecko engine, and then let umpteen distros implement various browsers and promote them all as "Gecko". Instead they made a complete product Firefox that users can consistently recognize and use, and protect their trademarks such that other browsers using Mozilla technology are not confused with Firefox in the slightest bit.

    In short: Stop confusing end-users and yourselves with "desktop Linux" promotion. If you must promote a FOSS operating system to the public, then focus on a specific free distro that adheres to the LSB Desktop spec.

    Again, stop confusing people!!

"There is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain