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Linux Business

OSCON 2008 Roundup 182

An anonymous reader writes "Infoweek wraps last week's event with Inside The OSCON 2008 Conference, which pulls together interviews with Mark Shuttleworth, Linux Foundation's Jim Zemlin, MySQL's Zach Urlocker and Sam Ramji, who directs Microsoft's Open Source Lab. Best quotes: 'We will make a significant attempt to elevate the Linux desktop to the point where it is as good or better than Apple,' from Shuttleworth; and 'If I would start a business tomorrow I'd do it in the netbook marketplace. I'd build a dead-simple $200 device that targets sports fans, women over forty,' from Zemlin." We discussed Shuttleworth's better-than-Apple proposition while OSCON was going on. Update Jamie noted this OSCON Summary Video that might also be worth your time.
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OSCON 2008 Roundup

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  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @01:12AM (#24397197) Journal
    I will tell you why apple has better eye-candy than everyone else, and it's because of Core Animation. If you haven't seen it, you seriously need to look into it. It is everything you could want in an eye-candy library, and makes doing cute little things simple.

    For example, when you do a search in a textbox or browser or something, OSX not only highlights the text, it makes it jump out for a second (stretch then shrink). It is really cool. I'm sure it annoys some people. It could be done on linux, but it would take a couple hundred lines. With core animation, it takes 10 or 15, and then because of the modularity of the whole OpenStep GUI system, it is easy to pass that capability into other programs.

    Until Linux has a similar programming system, it will be hard to give it the same eye candy. Think about it: suppose I am trying to set up some effect on a windows machine. I know it will take a day or so of coding, so I am going to be careful to set it up and plan well before hand. If it turns out nice, I'm going to feel pretty good.

    Whereas with core animation, if I suddenly think of something cool, I can just try it out. If it looks good, then great, if it doesn't, I can tweak it or throw it out until another good idea comes up. And you don't have to be an expert, it is pretty simple once you get it. So even the B-rate programmers can come up with this stuff, and the non-graphics programmers (documentation is still pretty horrible, however). That is cool. In fact it is one of the coolest things I've seen in programming in years.
  • by smidget2k4 ( 847334 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @02:45AM (#24397773)
    I would disagree, while there is a (shallow) learning curve, when I plug in a printer it "just works". When I select a random network printer at my school it "just works". Yes, this is because these drivers are all installed (and is an option). The only driver I've had to install myself was NTFS3g, which normal users don't need. What part of OSX doesn't just work for you? Yes, it has its kinks and oddities (why is there not a damn simple paint program that comes with it?), but most of the differences between OSX and Windows can be learned in an hour or two. Please, if you are going to say it doesn't "just work" use some examples. My experiences obviously differ from yours. But then, I'm one of the guys who bought it because I liked having a nice UI on top of a *nix terminal.

    The dock is different from the taskbar, but it is pretty easy to pick up. My 83 year old grandfather picked it up in about 2 or 3 minutes. Couldn't most users?
  • by saturn_vk ( 1198069 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @06:02AM (#24398809)
    You should check out enlightenment's edje library. That same animation could be done in 10-15 lines of simple, non-C code (so that designers can do the animations, not programmers)
  • by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @08:33AM (#24399769) Journal

    I think the bigger issue with Linux isn't the UI consisting of the widgets on the screen. I think it's the UI related to how software is installed and updated. For instance, which of the three installation methods would the general public most readily accept:

    1. Click and installer, then go through a wizard clicking "Next" on each screen just to get things to finish
    2. Drag an icon from one place to another
    3. Type strange commands into a text box

    I know I've simplified these things, but by and large, the installation wizard and things like apt-get or RPM managers are cumbersome. I know that there have been instances on Linux (can't recall any on Windows) but almost all OS X installs are "drag this icon into your Applications folder and you are done." (Very rarely do OS X apps have a wizard, and those are mostly for power-user grade applications like Xcode or applications ported from the Windows world - I point my finger at companies like MS and EA here).

    The other bit about Linux application installation issues is the concept of dependencies - unless things have changed significantly, trying to get applications to work on Linux is a chore to find out if you have the right dependencies, or to learn the package managers to try and make sure the dependencies are met. I would posit that if you fix the software installation process on Linux, you'll go a long way - longer than if you just make the widgets look different - to making Linux "desktop ready".

    The other aspect that should be addressed is the "don't pander to the computer savvy mentality." For instance, Ubuntu is hailed as being one of the prime targets for the desktop, but it asks users to suddenly redefine kilo-, mega- and gigabyte by using different terminology (MiB vs MB); change concepts like drive mounting "where's my C drive!?!" and other things which, while yes they are just education topics, are things that are never really presented to the users when they first step into a non-Windows world.

    Simply stated, the problems are not technical but social, and that's probably why the majority of the Linux crowd - which is focused on technical issues - is not where they want to be in terms of general public acceptance.

  • by stony3k ( 709718 ) <stony3k@gmail . c om> on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @10:03AM (#24400991) Homepage

    Apple: down 23% fom their 52 week high Microsoft: down 30% from their 52 week high VA Linux: down 66% from their 52 week high

    Why look at VA Linux, when they don't even sell Linux anymore? Take a look at Red Hat, which is down only 14% from their 52 week high.

  • by jmcbain ( 1233044 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @10:25AM (#24401365)

    What are you going to do if you can't push OSX, and Microsoft is dying? You start pushing Linux. Maybe this won't happen, but it isn't an unreasonable scenerio.

    It is a completely unreasonable scenario. And where do get off saying that Microsoft is a dying company? Here's their FY 2008 earnings release []. Tell me again how $60B a year is a dying company. Perhaps you were talking out your ass?

  • by speedtux ( 1307149 ) on Wednesday July 30, 2008 @01:01PM (#24404331)

    That was pretty much X's only really good idea.

    Many other technologies you take for granted today were pioneered with X11: mixed desktop and 3D graphics, client/server 3D graphics, separation of window management from applications, theming, 3D look-and-feel, remote GUIs, pixel accurate graphics, backing store policies, server-side extensibility, window server media handling, mixed direct screen buffer and desktop interfaces, and tons more.

    And technologically, X11 and the desktops built on it are lightyears ahead of both Windows and OS X, even if you don't realize it.

    X11 is still where the innovation happens; Windows and Macintosh are merely commercial imitations.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus