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Why Linux Vendors Need To Sell More Than Linux 290

jfruh writes "Mandriva, a venerable Linux distro, is on the verge of shutting down. One of its main problems is that it never grew into more than just an OS vendor. The big players in the commercial Linux space — Red Hat, SuSE, Canonical — all built Linux into their larger computing visions. Is there any room in the marketplace for just a straight-up Linux distro anymore?"
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Why Linux Vendors Need To Sell More Than Linux

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  • the one and only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by h2k1 ( 661151 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:01PM (#38883483)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Noryungi ( 70322 )

      Yup, Slackware. Still the best after all these years.

      • by WhiteK ( 2564633 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:06PM (#38884353)
        No please. I fully understand that it may please some "I'm so good" geek, but it's not nice for people. This is the problem with Linux in general. It is fully done by people who cannot market themselves or their products. As much as geeks hate marketing, it is needed. Not only for products, but also to other people. You want to know why geeks lack with women? Because they cannot market themselves. And no, that doesn't mean only pushing yourself. Bad marketers do that. It is about making yourself more likeable and subtly noting what user gains (be that either from using Linux, or being your girlfriend). Yes, you may think it sucks. But people in general are just for thinking for themselves. Sooner you realize this the sooner you enjoy living. People are self centerous. That does not mean it's bad - it just means they're human.

        So what the hell does "Slackware, still the best after all these years" tells me? Nothing at all. Why is it best? What do I gain by using Slackware? How would it be better for me than using OSX? Steve Jobs understood this. He cared about user experience and clearly told people why it is good. Even Ubuntu fails to do this. And no, people aren't going to spend time trying to research such things unless there is absolutely need. I enjoyed tinkering with these things as teen. Now I have better stuff to do. Either tell me what I gain from using Linux, or I'm not even going to try it.
        • Not that your main point is wrong... but you talk as if no geeks are women. That's obnoxious. People are self-centered, y'know?
        • Mod Parent Up (Score:2, Interesting)

          I'd have done it myself if my mod points didn't vanish yesterday. I've certainly been the sort of geek who hasn't done well in communicating with others when it comes to technical matters. Despite years of bugging friends and family members to "just get a Mac" every time I had to give out free tech support, no one ever did because I didn't/couldn't articulate the reasons why this would be a good idea. I think I've learnt my lesson, and have been able to get people to at least start playing with *nix by a

          • Re:Mod Parent Up (Score:4, Insightful)

            by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @12:40AM (#38887083)

            I'd have done it myself if my mod points didn't vanish yesterday. I've certainly been the sort of geek who hasn't done well in communicating with others when it comes to technical matters. Despite years of bugging friends and family members to "just get a Mac" every time I had to give out free tech support, no one ever did because I didn't/couldn't articulate the reasons why this would be a good idea. I think I've learnt my lesson, and have been able to get people to at least start playing with *nix by actually *showing* how it's not so scary to use and how easy it is to run plenty of Windows software through WINE.

            But showing users that it's (almost) as easy to use as Windows isn't good enough. You have to convince them that it's enough *better* for *their particular use case* than Windows and MacOS.

            For most users, the fact that a whole bunch of stuff works right out of the box with little or no effort to bring it up is a huge selling point. The ability to buy almost any software title and have it work on Windows is a huge selling point. What's a few hours of lost work (or play) time worth to you? To the average user, it's worth more than the price of a commercial OS.

            • Re:Mod Parent Up (Score:5, Interesting)

              by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @01:32AM (#38887475)

              For most users, the fact that a whole bunch of stuff works right out of the box with little or no effort to bring it up is a huge selling point.

              I honestly thought that was the start of a list of things you could say in favor of a linux desktop, but, by the end of your paragraph, I'm starting to think you actually meant Windows just works right out of the box. Is that what you meant? And, if so, have you setup either Ubuntu or Windows from near scratch recently (near scratch, as in, bought a new pc even)?

              Anecdotal story, but I recently setup a netbook for the girlfriend... took me weeks (prodding it here and there and letting it churn). Took me two days just to get Windows updates caught up (for the first time)... the download was plenty fast, but all the reboots and suddenly there's more to update were just crazy. Removing the bloatware... more time (and it was an asus, which supposedly doesn't ship with too much bloatware in comparison to most). Adding bog standard programs she'd need... tons more time (B&N reader; itunes; vlc; firefox; chrome; thundirbird; nero; sims3; PvZ; etc). And most of those have some silly updates that, for some reason, didn't come with it to begin with. Importing the music and video collection... holy crap that took a long time. Setting up backups... uh, WTH? why isn't there something easy to use for that shit yet? Tried tweaking Windows 7 start menu so she could find the handful of apps she'll actually end up using... near impossible (I ended up following a suggestion from MS and creating a folder/drawer thing on the start bar that listed shortcuts I put there - what a hack). Then many hours poking at the bluetooth a2dp support, and I just gave up on that one (so she could wirelessly stream to the receiver... and, fwiw, that worked plug-n-play from my linux desktop).

              And, I know this isn't really MS's fault, but to top it off... I bought Sims 3 for her (she love it); It installed, updated, and ran fine (a tad slow, but fine). A week later, and every time you start it, it freezes on the "update" screen and won't let you even click cancel! Found a work-around... disable the network, and it'll start up and run. You can feel free to say that would happen on other OS's, but I can't recall any software I got from freebsd ports, gentoo portage, debian apt repos, ubuntu repos, fedora/redhat rpm repos, etc that ended up in that situation. Even proprietary stuff like Quake 3 for Linux that I bought way back in the day... community came out with patches to keep it working.

              "The ability to buy almost any software title and have it work on Windows...", I totally agree that's a huge selling point.

              The ability to use the software you have as long as you like an however you want... well, that seems like a pretty damn good thing too.

              Being able to search/browse in one software interface (ex. synaptic), select some stuff, and click go and they'll all be installed AND UP TO DATE WHEN INSTALLED is a HUGE selling point. And debian-based distro's update - "sudo apt-get update && sudo reboot", go to sleep (or just get coffee... doesn't take that long), and it's done.

              Don't get me wrong... I'm not entirely knocking Windows. There's a reason they have so much market share, and it's not entirely due to their monopoly practices. I bought the damn thing knowing what it was, and it's what I wanted for this situation. It's the first copy of windows I've bought or used in about a decade (besides a corporate copy or two for occasional use on a vm), but the experience cemented my belief that, even though Ubuntu is jacking the shit out of what I want, it's still far more appropriate for my usage than Windows, and I can always distro hop again.

              • "I honestly thought that was the start of a list of things you could say in favor of a linux desktop, but, by the end of your paragraph, I'm starting to think you actually meant Windows just works right out of the box. Is that what you meant? And, if so, have you setup either Ubuntu or Windows from near scratch recently (near scratch, as in, bought a new pc even)?"

                I have, just last week on a PC I assembled myself from decent quality brand-name (D-Link, Asrock, Saphire, AMD) parts. And yes the difference was

              • Microsoft's juggernaut rolls on your back, precisely because MS depends on geeks like you to do all the hard work that people think is free. If everyone had to pay for the $1000 of your time you gave away, they would see the advantages of Linux or even Mac. So stop insulting yourself by giving your time away for free... aren't you worth it? Let people really understand the pain of Microsoft.
        • by RDW ( 41497 )

          So what the hell does "Slackware, still the best after all these years" tells me? Nothing at all. Why is it best? What do I gain by using Slackware?

          You get Slack. Sounds like you could use some.

        • Re:the one and only (Score:5, Interesting)

          by icebike ( 68054 ) * on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:41PM (#38885509)

          No please. I fully understand that it may please some "I'm so good" geek, but it's not nice for people. This is the problem with Linux in general. ... Either tell me what I gain from using Linux, or I'm not even going to try it.

          Actually Slack is never intended for the entry level user.

          Ubuntu is. 98% of the time anyone who has ever used Windows or Mac can install Ubuntu and have it fully functional out of the box, or bittorrent.
          They do market themselves, and have done well with that over the years.

          Ubuntu is the Gateway Drug for Linux. It might not be where you end up, but its where most new users start out.
          Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of others that install and run fine out of the box or the download. But Ubuntu you have heard of. The others, maybe not.

          Further, Ubuntu, SuSE, Red Hat have a business plan, a way to make money. Even the most die-hard fan gets tired of working for nothing, and gets tired
          of doing everything the hard way.

          As to what you are going to gain, its an easy sell for the home user who has ever even once lost his entire computer drive to malware or viruses.
          If everything works the same, no learning curve and the malware risk is virtually gone, you'd be surprised how many will use it, if someone else
          installs it. (Which, by the way, is exactly the same as windows. Most Windows users never install their own OS).

          • Actually Slack is never intended for the entry level user.

            Once upon a time (around slack 2.0) Slackware WAS the entry-level distribution. By far easier to setup than the other distributions.

            Of course, this was before Ubuntu. And Debian. And Redhat. Come to think of it, compared to SLS, it was pretty newbie friendly.

          • Indeed I just moved from Mandriva to Ubuntu because the last Mandriva update crashed everything on my machine. And I was almost shocked to find Ubuntu *easier* than OSX on a couple of point (e. g. capable to run an external 3G modem without extra sw install, and share immediately this connection via wifi straight from a permanently visible system menu).

            So probably yes I'm among those non-geek users that have been driven to Ubuntu just because of its fame. But it works.

            Whenever I have some time I'll try a co

        • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          the problem is that most people are unable or unwilling to look past the surface, and people with above average intellect are usually less tolerant of willful ignorance than the average. I don't worry when someone doesn't take my advice when I know it is correct. sooner or later these people will either learn the hard way and take my advice. or just keep looping through the causality until circumstances change and they no longer need whatever it is that needs to be fixed. I used to care, I really did. no

  • by Anonymous Coward


    The long answer:

    No. There is no viable desktop market for Linux currently, and probably never will be, and that is pretty much the ONLY market where a just OS approach may have even had a tiny amount of a possibility of succeeding.

    • by X10 ( 186866 )

      No. There is no viable desktop market for Linux currently

      I disagree. There is a market for a linux distro like Ubuntu 10.04. Just a bare bones linux distro with some gadgets and some UI fringes, but basically a linux that you can use for work. Ubuntu has moved away from that. I have to find another linux that gives me just a shell and apt-get and some more. I am a programmer. I don't want my linux to become windows because I want to be in control.

    • Whoa, there are several million linux users worldwide, and that's a conservative estimate.

      When you claim there is "no" desktop market for linux, wouldn't YOU like a business with this many potential customers?

      I'm not claiming it would be easy to sell a product to these people (you need to create enough value that someone would consider paying for it, rather than use free alternatives), but you need to stop looking at the linux market in percentages of the total PC market.

      Yes its a small percentage of the ov

  • No (Score:4, Insightful)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:06PM (#38883561)
    Someone will clone the distro and everyone has the bandwidth to download it.
    • by Zero__Kelvin ( 151819 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:22PM (#38883767) Homepage
      It is not about "cloning the distro". Anyone can download the tree in its current state. The value added is in the talent that maintains the codebase, makes improvements, applies the latest security updates, implements bugfixes, and helps the product evolve. In the case of Mandriva, there is Mageia [], which is made up of many of the maintainers from Mandriva who have anticipated trouble and decided to break away from Mandriva. In other words, Mandriva the company can die, and Mandriva the product essentially lives on as Mageia.
      • by RDW ( 41497 )

        Mageia is the real story here, and it was covered over a year ago: []

        Mandriva is now in much the same position as Xfree86, OpenOffice, or Detroit. And Mageia has a cooler name.

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:58PM (#38884255)

        Your reply really reinforced the GP, not contradicted it.

        He's right, there isn't a market for a *commercial vendor* selling a desktop Linux distro only (which was the question), because people can just copy it for free.

        Your example just explains how you can not only copy the resulting distro, but the source as a new project. It's yet another reason a commercial desktop Linux vendor is doomed - any derivatives get the aggregate efforts of the original without paying for those efforts, meaning they can distribute it for less with only as much additional effort as they want to put in (down to zero in both cases if they choose). The original vendor makes no money for their "value added", and doesn't survive.

        That may sound like a knock against open source projects, but it's not. It's a knock against people who naively think they can make money selling the open source software itself, rather than support, training, enterprise integration, etc that a company like Red Hat does to earn their income...

        • "Your reply really reinforced the GP, not contradicted it."

          You missed the part where the people who "copied the resulting distro and the source as a new project" were the same people. You cannot copy people. You cannot copy experience. You cannot copy intimacy with the build system and intricacies. I cannot just copy the codebase and be Mandriva. There is a huge amount of effort in forking a substantial project.

          Just because someone forks it, doesn't mean that they will come. I, for example, have bee

          • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:43PM (#38884811)

            I think you are totally misunderstanding the OP and me... breaking it down, it is that simple:

            1. Mandriva wants to sell a desktop version of Linux with various minor support features no one cares about.
            2. People (probably you included) decide that's really not worthwhile to pay 50 euros for it, and instead download it for free.
            3. Mandriva now has no revenvue to pay the developers, etc. and goes out of business.
            4. As you said, developers leave to a derivative distro they work on as *volunteers* (and probably go find another, possibly unrelated job to pay the bills).

            In the end, without significant value add that can't easily be copied, it's not going to work out. Net result: commercial Linux desktop venture ist kaput...

            • Mandriva was Mandrake before it was Mandriiva, and has been around for more than a decade. They use the same business model as most Open Source companies, to wit the offer a free as in beer version and a version with value added and bundled support that cost money, the way Red Hat has Fedora and RHEL, Oracle has Virtual Box OSE and Virtual Box Commercial version, etc. Their troubles have nothing to do with any false perception of a lack of viability of that model, and any mental masturbation on the subjec
            • Actually WITH the value add its still kaput, the market is just too small. look at all those retailers that tried selling Linux, Walmart, Staples, best buy, they all bailed because it ended up being a money loser because ordinary folks don't buy support contracts, only corps do. look at Xandros which had the XMC which despite the hate the community threw at them if you had to work in a mixed office it was great, it played nice with AD and Exchange, Xandros server played nice in Windows server domains, but a

  • by zooblethorpe ( 686757 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:07PM (#38883587)

    Is there any room in the marketplace for just a straight-up Linux distro anymore?

    That depends on what you mean by "marketplace". If this includes free, then sure -- we've still got Slackware, Debian, Mint, and I don't know what all else.

    But then, the question is loaded, and presumes that Mandriva's fall is solely due to the marketability of a Linux distro. But looking at the history, Mandriva was never that well run as an organization, with fits and starts and general policy confusion. For all its warts, Canonical's stewardship of Ubuntu at least has a direction. I suffered through many months with broken repo settings and no clear fixes as Mandrake/Mandriva went through a couple of its identity crises and infrastructure paroxysms, and these ultimately prompted me to leave them behind.

    • by Jurily ( 900488 )

      But then, the question is loaded, and presumes that Mandriva's fall is solely due to the marketability of a Linux distro.

      They are trying to sell something that's free, and adding nothing of value in the process. Of course they're going to fail.

      Linux is marketable. I can wholeheartedly recommend Debian for data centers or Ubuntu as a non-gaming desktop. However, I have no idea what Mandriva is trying to be, much less why I should pay them for.

    • by torgis ( 840592 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:16PM (#38883711) Journal
      Not to mention market saturation. In all seriousness, how many linux distributions is "too many"?
    • by xzvf ( 924443 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:48PM (#38884093)
      RedHat, Suse and Canonical all sell support, not Linux and other Open Source software. You pay for RedHat (the most successful FOSS vendor) to have access to RHN for package updates, someone to call for support, training and certification, and a conduit back into the FOSS community. Suse is similar. Canonical still has a way to go in the enterprise space but has a solid financial backer, and is making money using FOSS to provide services. In fact you can include Amazon, Google and a host of others as successful companies that leverage FOSS to provide services.
    • by Richard_J_N ( 631241 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:19PM (#38884533)

      Indeed - Mandrake made stupid decision after stupid decision. For example, when they were doing really well at the dotcom boom, they wasted all their money on a failed diversification into e-learning.

      Then they asked the community for support, which many of us gave, by selling club membership and DVDs. The stupid thing was this though: I had to pay $60 for a DVD I didn't want (after downloading the release ISOs weeks earlier), and I suspect Mandrake only got about $10 of that. I would have been happy to give them $20 for every release, if I knew that the money would go to more than just production and shipping of DVDs, and the included "commercial apps" which I also didn't want.

      Another problem was lack of support of the released distro. For example, if you wanted to run the latest stable release (not cooker), but happened to purchase a printer with support in upstream CUPS, you couldn't always get it to work in the stable release. Bug fixes rarely got backported either, so the stable release that everyone was supposed to run always had bugs in it that were fixed (but only in the cooker release, which was frequently broken).

      It's a shame: Mandrake did some really good stuff, including excellent documentation, a good set of KDE and Gnome defaults (including a unified theme), they supported i586 while most Linuxes still optimised for i386, had a really outstanding graphical installer (back in 2001 and before), and were deservedly at the top of the list for newbies, with tools that provided help, rather than dumbing down.

      Mandrake also improved several defaults, for example in Debian/Ubuntu, the Webroot is "/var/www". In Mandrake, it's "/var/www/html". When serving a simple file, this means /var/www/myfile.html (Debian) vs. /var/www/html/myfile.html (Mdk) - but it puts the webapps in a sensible place: Mdv use /var/www/mediawiki, /var/www/bugzilla etc, whereas Debian have to put it into /var/lib/ iirc. (On the other hand, Mandrake's Postgres configuration is weirdly in /var/lib/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf, whereas Debian put it in /etc/postgresql, where one would expect it. )

      Hopefully Mageia can do something exciting; personally I've been running Mageia 1 for 8 months, and it's good, but not yet revolutionary.

      • As far as I know the differences in directory layout you've mentioned flowed from RedHat's RPM packaging down to Mandrake. They did some useful innovation in addressing the desktop section of the market that RedHat abandoned; part of their problem is that they never offered a compelling server alternative to RedHat that was different enough to distinguish itself.

        In the case of PostgreSQL, there definitely wasn't any conscious decision on the part of RedHat/Mandrake here. By default when compiled from sour

  • by Anonymous Coward

    then its not worthwhile in the commercial space. SuSE marketshare is dropping and when did canonical every really have marketshare? Either you're big enough to do your own, have enough skills to maintain your own, or you buy RHEL.


    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward


      Forced at current job to use RH for one of our boxes (we are a Debian shop). RH is inferior in EVERY way. Few packages (a few percent of what Debian packages), upgrade hell (RH recommends a clean install + migrate config + data; WTF?!!! Debian, apt-get dist-upgrade... done.)

      Really, can't see any reason to use RH other than when some commercial entity forces you to in order to have support on that 3rd party product.

      RH really is shite. Hell even AIX, the bastard child of commercial UNIX can at least ha

      • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:17PM (#38884501)

        RedHat can (mostly) handle an in-place upgrade. Sufficient numbers of RH users *cannot* when something 'weird' happens, therefore it is simpler for them to tell everyone to clean install since RH actually has to answer the phone and handhold all the users and can't tell them to go away when they lack the resources to sort it out on their own.

        Debian can (mostly) handle an in-place upgrade. When a debian user can't figure out how to make it work again after dist-upgrade breaks it, well tough. Google and forum around, and no one *has* to deal with it, even though usually someone does. If debian were forced to hold the hands of some of the users I've seen, they'd stop talking about dist-upgrade too.

        AIX is extermely conservative, moreso than *any* linux distro will ever get away with. Given the scope, conservative development, the expected customer skill level, and the resources behind it, of course they can achieve *both* commercial support *and* robustness of in-place upgrades.

    • Their business plan doesn't seem to involve extracting money from the actual users of the product by and large, but rather selling the users as a product. For example, Ubunutu ships (last I checked) with the ability to buy from Amazon MP3 trivially, conveniently with Canonical's referal id. I'm not sure the details, but I believe Google pays them some to be the default search engine. Their ambitious future plans seem to revolve around having an "Ubuntu media store", as well as convincing someone to buy i

  • OS's are... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:09PM (#38883625)

    ... the most boring part of the computer for 90% of the population. You have to have something your end customers actually care about. I look at things like steam and I don't know why Linux devs didn't think of creating a platform around linux to begin with. While power user computing is great for the power users, the great unwashed really just want something ridiculously simple and easy. There is really no real reason to use linux. If I were trying to sell linux, I'd create a plaform like steam and sell non-drm'd software. Open source really has to start 'charging' for it's software if it hopes to be sustainable in creating apps/things people want in the future. Money is not a dirty word. You can still make money with open computing. With all the copyright bullshit linux could have a good opening if they'd just get on the ball and create a business out of it.

    Linux suffers from being suffocated by geeks who really don't grasp that the user doesn't want to have to think, the user wants a magic box that adds value to their lives. This is why things like Steam took off and 'app stores'.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      > There is really no real reason to use linux.

      apt-get install xbmc
      apt-get install mythtv

      No dickering around with packages with names like "shark007".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You see that? That thing that just passed? It was the point - and you missed it. What is an apt-get? Why is it called that? Why is there a "get" and then an "install?" Where do I type that? Oh, in the console? It's not working. Why is it not working? Why does it tell me it can't "resolve the hostname" of the repository? Oh, the whitespace matters?

        Ubuntu Software Center et al mitigate these issues to a degree. Too little, too late though.

        • Re:OS's are... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by 0123456 ( 636235 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:48PM (#38884097)

          Wow. Sounds like you're still running a Linux distro from 1993.

          I liked the Windows update thingumy recently when I booted into Windows for the first time in ages. Even though I waited over ten minutes, Windows wouldn't connect to my Wireless LAN that Linux connects to in a few seconds, but it was bugging me to install upgrades, so I said yes because I assumed it must have previously downloaded them and I might as well do something useful while I was waiting... but once I told it to install them it tried to download them and then told me it couldn't download them, which should have been obvious because there was no network connection.

          What a horrible excuse for an operating system Windows is...

          • I was especially thrilled when I installed Windows 7 for the first time recently and it spent around twenty minutes rebooting no fewer than 6 times before I could actually use it.

            I find it equally pleasing when it downloads updates in the background and then spontaneously reboots 5 minutes later, particularly when it does it behind a game and I lose my online match.

            Really, the only mitigating factor is that I no longer attempt to do any useful work with Windows.

            • For a computer genius I'd think you would have figured out that you can set up the OS to update how you like, and not have it intrude on what you're doing.
              • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

                Seems a bit stupid. If you are going to that much trouble then you can just use the Debian commandline tools.

                That kind of snark goes both ways.

              • Re:OS's are... (Score:4, Informative)

                by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @05:43AM (#38888939)

                Well, yes, you can configure it. But I would have thought the default settings would be something less annoying than "update automatically then show a popup-dialogue and spontaneously reboot in 5 minutes. Do not offer an option to not reboot - make the user keep deferring it in chunks of between 5 minutes and 4 hours". If the updates happen at lunchtime and you left a bunch of windows open while you stepped out for lunch, say goodbye to any work you haven't saved.

                Whereas the default on my other OS is "open the update manager, present the available updates list, and wait for user input". And when it's finished updating, it colours one UI element red to let you know that a reboot would be good, but it's not going to force you. You can configure this behaviour too.

                My gripe is that the default settings on Windows cause you pain - at the very least, they force you to save your work and reboot, or constantly poke at a nag-box to prevent it rebooting, whereas the default settings on my chosen working OS don't even force you to update, and when you do, you can carry on working as long as you like before you reboot - I typically just shut down at the end of the day and consider that the first half of my reboot cycle.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          The GUI tools are a little harder to explain in this format. While the command line equivalents may seem "scary", they get the point across.

          Stuff like that is what Apple's current success is built on. They just dress it up a little more.

      • by nashv ( 1479253 )


        Thank you GP, I see you your point now.

    • Re:OS's are... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:41PM (#38883981) Homepage

      This is why things like Steam took off and 'app stores'.

      This is why Linux has has "app stores" for over ten years. Users didn't like package managers until they had to pay money to use them.

      • Re:OS's are... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @09:04PM (#38885119)

        Users didn't like package managers until a couple companies had the bright idea to make versions that were more than a glorified command line.

        Steam and the Apple App Store are to dpkg (and similar tools) what an office suite is to notepad. Things like visual previews, robust searches and categories, and comprehensive descriptions are more than cosmetic improvements. They are the difference between a good idea and a mature implementation.

    • by Fri13 ( 963421 )

      Tell me, how Linux operating system can be boring only for 90% of people? I would say it is 99.95% of people.

      As you should know, Linux kernel is a monolithic operating system. 99.95% people does not even understand or know that.
      Operating Systems has from the begin being boring... What is exiting (or boring) is the graphical or textual user interfaces and programs and application programs what users can use to get their wanted things done.

      Only a true geek can get exited what new features operating systems (l

    • You do realize all Linux distributions already come with an equivalent of an "App Store" which contains tens of thousands of up-to-date high-quality software packages?
      It's usually called a "software repository" or "software center"

      It even has user ratings and lists of "what's hot", "what's new", "top rated" etc.

      • Oh I know this but the problem is you need killer apps that draw people away from other platforms. There is no compelling reason to use linux (i.e. greater performance, etc).

        • It does have better performance along with many applications that are not available (or available but not in such a practical way) on other operating systems.
          The problem, however, is that it has this one misfeature: choice.

        • Apparently Google, Facebook, Amazon, and a plethora of other large internet companies have found a compelling reason to use Linux. It can't just be the price as those companies make more than enough money to buy Windows licenses yet they choose not to. Furthermore, what's wrong with people using something different than you? Do you feel threatened in some way by choice?
      • It even has user ratings and lists of "what's hot", "what's new", "top rated" etc.

        The only distro I know which actually has an app store that has these features you mention is in Ubuntu. The rest have package managers for their repositories, but nothing like the Ubuntu Software Center. And even then, the USC was only created well after Steam and the Apple App Store were created. Once again we have a situation where the Linux community acted in a reactionary way to what the commercial vendors were doing, ins

        • That is correct.
          And I personally never use this thing, I find synaptic or command-line tools much more efficient.

          But then I don't find app stores (be it os x or android ones) any good either.

          • Agreed. I prefer synaptic and particularly apt-get (once I know the exact name of the package I want) as well, but I imagine the USC has its benefits for providing a nice frontend that non-geeks or just people who don't want the information-overload of something like synpatic.

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

            They still suffer from the basic problem of search and selection. For that you still need external sources. You have to find meaningful information regarding what to install somewhere else.

            This goes for "app stores" in general.

            Google and the web at large still does it better.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          There is nothing "reactionary" about dressing up your package repository. It's simply a matter of hiding things and organizing things a little different. Although it's rather dubious if it all matters really.

          Apple app stores still suck at the sort of things that Linux package managers excel at. This is primarily due to the exclusionary approach of Apple and the fact that the system is a "product" rather than a set of tools.

          The Apple approach is still inferior to both Linux variants as well as 3rd parties on

          • I'm referring to "reactionary" in the sense that no-one in the Linux community, neither users nor commercial vendors, thought about capitalizing on the power of repositories until Apple (and to some extent Valve) started making money out of the premise. It was maybe a year ago that Ubuntu finally had paid software appearing in the USC. Until then the idea of paid, closed-source software being sold without a distro was heresy, and to some it still is. But it's a crucial step towards providing the stuff that

    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      Linux suffers from being suffocated by geeks who really don't grasp that the user doesn't want to have to think, the user wants a magic box that adds value to their lives. This is why things like Steam took off and 'app stores'.

      If you want to use the Linux command line (you know like the geeks do and and computer users back in the 1970/80/90's did) you could use "apt-get" (Debian and it's derivatives based) or "yum" (Redhat and it's derivatives based), however you can also use GUI tools as well and select packages to delete, install or upgrade which are so intuitive a 5 year old can use. Unfortunately over the last 30 years it appears that the so called "dumbing down of computers" has reduced most computer users knowledge to that

  • Diversification (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:14PM (#38883683)
    Oh, you mean like how Microsoft bundles Office with it's distro? You know, the one they call Windows.

    I can see an argument being made that people don't want an "operating system", they want a computer. And when most people say computer, they don't mean the box. That's what geeks say. When an average person says computer, they mean all the applications, peripherals, internet access, etc., that all gets packed into the magic box.

    Linux and its supporters have never quite managed to grasp the Magic Box school of thought. Until they do, they'll never be a competitor. This is a cultural problem, not a technological one. Look at Apple. First we ignored them, then we laughed at them, then somehow, overnight, OS X became a contender and Apple became a massive corporation. How did that happen?

    Hint: Apple doesn't sell 'operating systems' or 'ipads' or whatever. They are selling an experience. And if you ask the average person what the Linux experience is... they'll look at you, facepalm, and say flatly "I couldn't get the damn thing to work."

    Linux vendors need to sell an experience, not a product. It needs to be well-supported, preconfigured with everything the average person wants on a computer (or whoever their target demographic is... IT managers, server lackies, whatever...), so all they do is push the button and there it is. It. Just. F*cking. Works.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Apple was the original home computer vendor.

      They introduced the first consumer computer with a GUI.

      It was about 10 years before Microsoft and PCs offered something comparable.

      The current success of Apple is mainly as a consumer electronics vendor, rather than a computer vendor.

      Your "underdog story" is missing a few important elements.

      Ironically enough: as far as the "mindless consumer" contingent goes, the biggest stumbling block for Linux at this point is open hostility from hardware vendors like Apple.

    • Re:Diversification (Score:5, Insightful)

      by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:30PM (#38883859)
      Apple don't sell computers, operating systems, ipads, iphones or experiences, they sell social status.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I have never seen Office bundled with Windows, not a full version anyway. If it comes with a prebuilt computer, it's usually a trial version that the user will have to pay for, or a copy that the user ordered with the computer. If it didn't come with it, it'll typically get installed after the fact.

      Contrast that with Ubuntu, Mint, or any number of distros. Most of them come with some form of OpenOffice, LibreOffice, etc. installed by default. In fact, they do come with nearly everything someone would wa

    • The only reason Apple is successful is because they've managed to establish some kind of luxury brand.
      It's 99% marketing, 1% technology.

      Linux vendors need to sell an experience, not a product. It needs to be well-supported, preconfigured with everything the average person wants on a computer

      That's exactly what it is. I can't say the same for OS X at all though. While with Linux you can do everything you possibly wanted in a couple of commands, on OS X you need to install third-party software to do the most

  • by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:20PM (#38883749)

    Most Linux distros lack a sustainable business model. They expect people to pay for something they can get for free.

  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:21PM (#38883759)

    RedHat and Suse are both a success because it's not just a distro. It's also a support structure for the OS, which is what businesses need.

    Many times, a technical person looks at it and does not care. "Let me use my favorite distro this week.". But what happens when that person leaves the company and a new guy comes in with experience in a different distro? Sure, we can catch on as techies.. it's what we do. But it's a gap to get there in time, which can cost a whole lot of money.

    I'm sure Redmond does not mind as many fragments as possible. Honestly it's hurt Linux much more than it's helped as far as business adaptation.

    Lets face facts: Execs want numbers, not quirks. Show them how much money they can save by going with RedHat, response time on support issues, security information for SOX and E&Y auditors, etc.. and that's your ticket in. "My Gnome tool bar roxxors in Favlinux 6.0zers" is not something businesses want, need, or look at.

    Frags are fine for the geeks that want to play. I'm sure there are some good things that come out of those and get added back in to the stream for Business Linux. I can't count any, but I'm sure someone has some. Just keep it out of the VP's office, and get them a supported version of Linux.

  • RedHat's paid support model is a decent idea, but most people don't want to pay, because if you have an IT person who can support the thing a little bit, then s/he can support it completely. Even so, I think certain features might be worth paying for:
    1) Phone support for all aspects of operation, including Sendmail and Apache config, SSL certs, etc.
    2) Priority updates and custom fixes
    3) Ability to perform reliable in-place upgrades forever, even across major revisions.
    4) Hardware sales and support mayb
  • I know when I stopped using mandrivia, it was the moment that they switched names from mandrake and would only offer the new version (11?) if you bought the disc direct from them.

    Which might have been worth while if it was not just a generic as hell redhat with a graphical installer (ohhh)

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      I switched from Mandrake when I wanted a package manager like apt-get and my attempt to retrofit it on to Mandrake failed miserably. At that point I just made the jump to Debian.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Did you try urpmi? That's the equivalent to apt-get for Mandriva and Mageia.

      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        at the time I had never used a debian based system, and was unaware of stuff like dpkg and apt-get, after mandrake I went to ubuntu and years later pretty much wont install something if it does not have the weight of debian's repositories behind it

  • With Mandriva dying, they will probably take Scalix down with them.

  • One big (should I say HUGE) reason what cause someone drop out from markets is that someone else enters to same market and is not depending sale income like the others already on market.

    Example. Canonical would not exist if Mark Shuttleworth would not be spending his personal money to artificially maintain Canonical up.

    The situation is exactly the same as someone is selling handmade product A on corner of street and every penny what is gained, is needed so the production can be maintained. Then one rich guy

  • by stevenfuzz ( 2510476 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:53PM (#38884159)
    And every major version update still fucks up all my video card configurations (not to mention a bunch of other stuff). Try explaining to your wife over the phone: "Sorry baby, you shouldn't have hit update while I was at work. It's simple, just open up the terminal on the desktop, SSH to the laptop and replace xorg.conf with xorg.conf-backup". Her responding being, "This computer is stupid. Why can't we use windows like normal people?".
  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @07:56PM (#38884223) Homepage

    The whole premise of this article is wrong. During the time when Mandriva was Mandrake, the Linux OS part of Mandrake was profitable. However, they diversified into Educational Products, that were going to be sold to European schools. That business lost a ton of money. They went bankrupt and reformed as Mandriva.

    Ubuntu sort of took the power user desktop niche away and I don't know if Mandriva could have been successful with Ubuntu there. But Mandrake did exactly what the article suggests.

  • No. People universally distrust penguins. They are too cocky and pretentious in their little tux's. If only penguins were sweet and juicy like an apple and translucent like a window. Instead we get these little bone and blood filled over-dressed pests that you can't see through at all.
  • by quixote9 ( 999874 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2012 @08:33PM (#38884679) Homepage
    It's called user control and privacy. 99.95% of people don't care about that too much, but every Megaupload that happens inches people a bit closer to realizing that no control is maybe not all that free.

    It's interesting that the Department of Defense in the US is using more and more open source software, even while lots of people are saying "My data? Who cares?" Once control is worth something to you, there's no real alternative, ultimately, to FOSS. Or writing your own custom software.
  • Google, Amazon, the majority of servers, the list could go on forever, all wouldn't exist without linux. Apple strapped on the rocket engine known as BSD, but I'd be surprised if BSD is being paid by them. That doesn't seem like Apple's style.

    Linux is adding unmeasurable value. All it needs is a different model of how creativity is rewarded.

    We should be censusing usage and paying creators. The more your product was used or enjoyed, the more you'd get paid. In that world, linux wouldn't have a thing to
  • because sooner or later the government at the behest of their bankster & corporate overlords are going to pull the rug out from under internet freedom and the internet will be reduced to online shopping at your government/bankster/corporate approved websites, forums like your beloved slashdot will be a thing of the past since these evil overlord dont want to be bothered with filtering and approving all the comments, so the internet will resemble an interactive version of the "shopping channel" much like
  • Mandriva was also selling Mandriva Directory Server - which was a good product IMO. Isn't providing management/services products making them "more than just an OS vendor"?. Novell was doing exactly the same thing with eDirectory/Zenworks.
  • Mandriva is a very good platform for headless applications such as remotely monitored CCTV systems (I speak from experience, having deployed Zoneminder several times). Perhaps the vendor ought to be considering specified hardware solutions (not just Mandriva, all of the major distributions)? I can certainly help there with a spec for a multi-source CCTV system (32 cameras!)

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?