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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop 1091

New submitter VoyagerRadio writes "Recently I found myself struggling with a question I should easily have been able to answer: Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system? It's a fair question, and asked often of Linux, but I'm finding it to be a question I can no longer answer with the conviction necessary to 'sell' the platform. In fact, I kind of feel like a car salesman who realizes he no longer believes in the product he's been pitching. It's not that I don't find Linux worthy; I simply don't understand how it's ever going to succeed on the desktop with voluntary marketing efforts. What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? To me, it seems you don't sell Linux at all because there isn't supposed to be one dominant distribution that stands out from the rest. Without a specific product to put on the shelf to sell, what in the world do you focus your efforts on selling? An idea?"
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Why Linux Can't 'Sell' On the Desktop

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  • Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dokc ( 1562391 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:32AM (#39424859) Journal

    Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system?

    Why not? It simply works, I can do whatever I want.

  • by pbjones ( 315127 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:35AM (#39424875)

    ask not what OS is for you, ask what your OS can do. After the shine wears off it's about what you use a computer for. I play 1 on-line game, read the news, and catch up with a few people on FB. And I have have a diffrent machine for eMail. If Linux does what you want, use it, you don't have to sell it to anyone.

  • by lattyware ( 934246 ) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:36AM (#39424879) Homepage Journal

    Really, why? If you can't think of a good reason for someone to use it - it's probably not for them. I've been a Linux desktop user for ages, and I'd find Windows horrible to go back to now, but I get that it's not the same for everyone.

    Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't let people know Linux exists and show them how it could help them, but don't get obsessive about it.

  • 'cause it's better (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rastos1 ( 601318 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:36AM (#39424885)

    Why would anyone want to use Linux as their everyday desktop (or laptop) operating system?

    In no particular order:

    • no viruses
    • no forced upgrades
    • better functionality (stuff like kioslaves, etc ...)
    • customization
    • price
    • the system does what I tell it to do. Not more, not less, and not what some DRM/*AA/SW vendors wants.
    • less demanding on HW
  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:38AM (#39424891) Journal

    I don't think the answer here is about Linux, I think it's about Windows. Simply put, there isn't enough "wrong" with Windows these days.

    There was, I felt, a moment where Linux had a chance to make a breakthrough onto the mainstream desktop. It was around the point where Windows ME was failing horribly and Windows 2000 had yet to get much public acceptance. At that point, there was a lot wrong with Windows. The technology underpinning 95/98/ME was creaking horribly. It's hard to believe now, but if you were a heavy PC user (particularly a gamer) back then, your Win98 machine would need daily reboots just to maintain basic performance and stability. Over on 2000, until it got a service pack or two, there were horrible compatibility issues with many applications, particularly those that required directx.

    And then the moment passed. Windows 2000 got patched up and then Windows XP went on, after a rocky start, to become a stable, pleasant to use OS. Even the debacle of the Vista launch couldn't undermine the general dominance of Windows - because the major competition to Vista was coming from XP, not from Linux.

    If you want to unseat the dominant market player, you have to not just be better than them, but be a lot better. It's not just that you have to have a few killer features; you have to be able to at least match the dominant player in every other significant respect as well. Linux is nowhere near that kind of position in respect of Windows these days (take gaming support as a case in point, but there are plenty of other examples).

  • by dejanc ( 1528235 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:43AM (#39424927)

    I make my living on Linux I spend and for the last 12 years I've been using it on desktop. I am very happy with Linux - I spend better part of my day in Linux consoles on various servers. However, 6 months ago I switched to Mac OS X for my desktop needs and I'm not going back. Why?

    Firstly, now I have a sane desktop environment which doesn't change often. It took some time to adjust to it's workflow, but with 27'' screen it wasn't that hard (just keep everything open).

    Secondly, I get access to all applications I need - ranging from Adobe products to MS Office to various ingenious applications from independent developers. I can still access all console utilities that I had under linux, so nothing is lost but a lot is gained.

    Finally, I get a better software selection than I had with any distribution I tried. The foundation is solid, I don't have to worry kernel upgrade will break binary graphic drivers (which I also get from e.g. Debian Stable), but I can keep Firefox, Virtualbox, etc. up-to-date with a click of a button (which I would get from a rolling release distribution).

    Simply put: Linux is great, and there are many excellent distributions out there. But until they settle on a DE (including broken DE's like early versions of Gnome 3 or KDE 4 is just not acceptable) and until Adobe, Microsoft et al. start selling their software for Linux, many people will simply not be satisfied with Linux desktop - which has very little to do with Linux itself.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:44AM (#39424937)

    Really, why? If you can't think of a good reason for someone to use it - it's probably not for them. I've been a Linux desktop user for ages, and I'd find Windows horrible to go back to now, but I get that it's not the same for everyone.

    Look, I'm not saying you shouldn't let people know Linux exists and show them how it could help them, but don't get obsessive about it.

    Yeah, I'm always amused at the notion that we "should" market Linux. So long as there are enough participants to support a well-rounded free software environment, Linux will have its niche.

    It's not competing with OSes sold for other niches.

    Also, its purpose is to let geeks do stuff they want to do, not to saturate the consumer market or pump up someone's stock portfolio.

    There's no reason for its creators, users, or proponents to do anything other than what they've always done.

  • Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:47AM (#39424951)

    Did you really have to post this?

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:48AM (#39424953)

    What do Linux users need to do to replicate the marketing efforts of Apple and Microsoft and other corporate operating system vendors? Spend millions of dollars on advertising and even more in subsidies to hardware manufacturers (or like Apple make your own hardware.)

    Don't forget the smear campaigns and FUD about other operating systems, threats to sue end users over patent infringement, etc.

  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vanderhoth ( 1582661 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:53AM (#39424995)
    I think that's probably one of the biggest problems. A lot of people a use to doing what they're told, not what they want. When confronted with too much choice a lot of people just curl up into little balls and cry. Figuratively speaking of course.
  • Re:heh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb ( 229885 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:55AM (#39425007)

    I'm glad I'm not dependent on winning over people that are willing pay extra for devices that are locked down physically and ideologically

    unfortunately this applies to Linux more than any other OS. Which graphics card drivers do you use? If you don't care and use the proprietary ones from the card maker, fine. If you get all panty-bunched about they have to be open, then you're just as bad as Apple is with their locked-down-only stuff.

  • by F69631 ( 2421974 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:56AM (#39425027)

    It's important that we have a free (both meanings of the word) alternative for an operating system for those who want it. However, as long as the existence of that alternative is relatively safe it just comes down to competition. You need to invest something (money, time, etc.) to a system and you gain something from it (be it the knowledge that your system is "free", more stability or the UI and applications you prefer) and if most people say that they'd rather go with Windows... why is that "wrong"?

    I guess you can make the point "They might not say that if they KNEW more about Linux" but at that point you are no longer asking "How to increase Linux market share" but rather "How to educate people about Linux so we get more competition" which should be approached with an entirely different mindset. I find it difficult to even think "We should boycott MS because it's EVIL"... Maybe it still is so, but there are so many even more horrible corporations around that I feel a bit apathetic about that.

    Summa summarum... If you know that someone would benefit from Linux, it should be easy to sell. If you don't know, why should you even try to?

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@Nospam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:58AM (#39425037) Homepage

    General populace is not interested in ideas. That's the whole crux of the thing; they want something concrete, they do not care about the ideas behind the product as long as they can feel they got what they wanted.

  • Re:Why not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:15AM (#39425161)
    Simple for Slashdoters != Simple for everyone

    Most Slashdoters belong to a extremely small minority of the market for computers, tablets and smartphones.

    I'm not saying Linux is too hard for most people to use, but the perception that Linux is "for geeks" is a serious obstacle. Letting the masses know that "Linux is preferred by geeks rather than Linux is only for geeks" would be a great first step.
  • by metacell ( 523607 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:22AM (#39425201)

    No, it's not the same. Until Windows Vista, the vast majority of users were logged in on accounts with full Administrator priveleges on their local computers. That made it much easier for small security loopholes to escalate into big security loopholes when a user ran a program or visited a web site they shouldn't have. Even on Windows Vista, users tended to turn off the security features because they were badly designed and too cumbersome. And remember that the decade-old Windows XP is still the most widely used Microsoft OS (unless it's been overtaken in the last year).

    Also, until around the turn of the millenium, Microsoft didn't believe in the Internet. It may sound ludicrous today, but Microsoft claimed the Internet's popularity wouldn't last, and instead pushed their own proprietary online service, Microsoft Network, which, back then, was similar to America Online. Microsoft products were adapted to a LAN environment, not an Internet environment, so their security was seriously lagging behind, and it took many years for them to catch up.

    Internet Explorer has also historically had much more security problems than the most popular browsers on competing operating systems (Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc).

    Saying that Windows OSes get more viruses because they're more widely used is only part of the answer.

  • by Lorien_the_first_one ( 1178397 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:24AM (#39425219)

    I use Linux because I find it very attractive. Sure, there are problems I encounter but I'm committed to working through them. That's how I learn how computers work and I have learned more about how computers work with Linux than I ever have with Windows. I simply cannot imagine myself going back to jail with Windows or Mac. For me, Linux is the Swiss Army Knife of computing. Anything I want to do, I can do it with Linux faster than I can with Mac or Windows.

    For those who want to use Windows or Mac? They're not attracted to Linux for their own reasons so I let them be. They're paying for the subsidy I got on my computer, which has a Windows license. Since they're spending their own money, they have a right to their choice and I support that. I even offer support to fix their computer when they need help, for a reasonable fee. But if they want to convert to Linux with a little boost to get them started, I do that for free.

    When i got my last computer, I imaged the hard drive, and put the image away (making Windows installation CDs is very slow compared to a quick image of the drive). Then I proceeded to install the distribution of my choice and I've been happy ever since. I've been on Linux exclusively at home for almost 5 years and I have no plans to go back to Windows, nor do I see a need to sell Linux. If people want what I have, I help them get it. If not, they always have Windows or Mac to use. It's their choice.

    I would prefer the use of Linux to grow by attraction rather than promotion.

  • by F69631 ( 2421974 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:28AM (#39425241)

    OS/2 has gone away; Linux hasn't. But, even today, Windows 7 is no particular match for Linux. Does Windows run on Z-series mainframes? Sparc? Anything other than x86? Big-endian? Embedded? With how much compatibility?

    The discussion is about desktops so pretty much none of that is relevant... Or maybe there is relevance that you didn't elaborate enough and I'm just not getting? I don't think that anyone here denies that Linux is superior to Windows in that kind of specialized systems but that's just not important in this context.

  • There are as many or more Linux desktops than Mac ones

    I really doubt that.

    then Apache would be the most virus laden product in the world, as opposed to Windows with that "honour".

    You're comparing apples and oranges; Apache is a web server, Windows is an OS. Compare Linux to Windows and Apache to IIS.

    But you can STILL get a drive-by virus even with the latest, most secure, most up-to-date Windows OS. You don't have to do anything other than connect to the internet.

    Don't try to spread lies, that hasn't been true for a good while now. That was true with XP, yes, not now. And heck, even with XP that was no longer true after SP2 which enabled firewall by default.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@Nospam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:30AM (#39425251) Homepage

    I chose Windows because Linux couldn't do what I wanted.

  • RMS said it best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brad-x ( 566807 ) <brad@brad-x.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:30AM (#39425253) Homepage

    In a recent interview with an Iranian Linux publication, RMS had this to say about the very issue addressed here - it's an opinion I share.

    "LR: What's the best way to advocate Free Software? Some Free Software users engage in technical debates with Microsoft and Apple fans, trying to convince them GNU/Linux is more powerful. Another group focus on philosophical and cultural aspects of Free Software and try to make people care about their freedom. Which of the two mentioned approaches are more effective?

    RMS: They are both "effective" but they lead to different results.

    If you convince people that some free software is technically superior, they might run some free software, but they will remain ready to use nonfree software in the areas where that is technically superior. They will continue to judge an important question based on superficial issues. This is just a partial success.

    However, if you convince people that they deserve freedom, they will start rejecting nonfree software whether it is technically inferior or technically superior, because they will see that free software is ethically superior. They will understand the important question and judge it right. This is a full, deep success.

    Another weakness of technical arguments is that nontechnical people probably won't care about them at all. But they can understand ethical arguments. Ethical arguments are the only way we can convince nontechnical people to become free software supporters.

    I figure that users can judge for themselves whether program A is more convenient than program B. So I don't try to convince them about that sort of question, except when someone has preconceptions about free software and has not tried it. I focus on talking about freedom. "

  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:48AM (#39425371) Homepage

    What Linux needs isn't marketing, what it needs is to become the better product. Back in the Windows98 days one could make some good arguments for Linux in terms of stability, security and such, but those days are long gone and Microsoft and Apples OS offerings are just as stable as your Linux box these days, if not even more so. Which doesn't leave much arguments for Linux on the desktop. In terms of usability it's a complete clusterfuck, the user interfaces are an inconsistent non-backward compatible mess (we used to complain about QT looking different then GTK, now GTK3 apps don't even look like GTK2 apps), the packaging formats are all incompatible (even if everything uses .deb, it's still all incompatible) and there still isn't a standard way to ship third party applications on Linux. The fact that it is all Free Software is essentially irrelevant as it rarely povides the user with any pratical benefits over a proprietary alternative (data formats from one app can't be handled by another, etc.). Security is also rather terrible for a desktop OS, as it provides little to no sandboxing for applications, thus making it risky to try third party applications.

    In essence, stop complaining about lack of games, hardware suport or third party support. While those are holding Linux back, they are in large part simply the result of the underlying framework being rather shit. If it would be trivial to build and distribute Linux software, a lot more people might actually do so, but it's not, so the support overhead is rarely worth the effort.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smpoole7 ( 1467717 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @07:52AM (#39425411) Homepage

    > If you get all panty-bunched about they have to be open ...

    Haven't checked further down in the thread, but I confidently predict that I'll hit a flame war over this very thing, once I scroll down far enough. Call me a prophet. :)

    Free Software purists require that Linux must Make A Statement(tm) and Prove A Point(sm). If it also happens to work just as well, hey, that's a bonus. But to some of us, that's actually kinda-sorta important.

    Related topic: when I switched to Linux (c. 2000), I always installed Acrobat because most of my equipment manuals are in PDF form. The folks in Linux fora online would scold me, but at the time, all free alternatives STUNK. They were AWFUL. They could display a page and, if you held your mouth just right, they might even print them correctly. But only Acrobat would allow me to zoom, search, print the zoomed portion, bookmark sections and do the other things I needed to do.

    So ... I used Acrobat. The Bearded Priests of the Free Software Revolution(tm) hated me for it, and accused me of "enabling" continued bad behavior from closed source companies. I tuned them out as background noise. Hey, I was using Linux -- on purpose -- and whenever I could reasonably do so, I chose FOSS alternatives -- on purpose. If I didn't meet their standards of ideological purity, well, too bad.

    Now, thank the Lord, there are alternatives that work well enough (I use Okular). But for years, that wasn't the case.

    Go ask the software and hardware vendors why they don't target Linux and they'll give you plenty of reasons. Hint: it's NOT market share. There are small software shops that LOVE writing apps for niche markets. But one of the biggest reasons they don't target Linux is that it's a moving target.

    They'll release a package, only to have the next update kill it, and they'll get a flood of support calls (which cost them money). The answer from the Free Software Purists(tm) will inevitably be, "well, if you'd release everything and let us build from source, you wouldn't have that problem."

    They're not going to do that. Whether it's right or wrong, that's just a fact and it's time to accept it. They're NOT GOING TO DO THAT. Instead, they'll just continue to target Windows or Mac or (nowadays) Android.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:14AM (#39425583)

    Get real. So what if it's free? Support is terrible and most products aren't accessible if you're not familiar with the programming environment enough to compile source code. People want to USE their computers, not tinker and brag about them.

    Also, as if it hasn't been said a thousand times, no gaming worth talking about.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:15AM (#39425587) Homepage Journal

    I've said it above - but more directly to your point about Linux being difficult - we could argue that all day. I have had a real bear trying to do some rather straightforward things on MS and Apple. The fact that so many friends are calling on me to help fix their problems on such a regular basis (and none of them are running Linux) proves to me that they are not so easy.

    So I think it goes well beyond that - to marketing and business practices.

      But in my mind, this discussion about if Linux is as 'easy' as MS and Apple is a waste of time as we'll be throwing around anecdotes and such without really settling anything. So I'd rather avoid that and ask, "Is Windows the dominant OS based purely on usability?" If you really believe that, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

  • My 80-yr-old mother uses Linux.


    I have my parents on Linux. They used to use Windows, but I got them on Firefox and Thunderbird, and then switching them over was easy. Now when we come over for dinner, I'm not spending half an hour or more cleaning out malware and untangling registry cruft and so on. If they have a problem when I'm not around, I can SSH in and tweak it.

    In the real world, most people don't know how to administer a computer, be it Windows or Linux or even Mac. So they get their brother or sister or kids or their friend who's "good with computers" to support them. (My wife got me a t-shirt to wear to family reunions that says, "No, I will not fix your computer.") So if you're going to be supporting someone's computer, shouldn't it be a system that's easier to support?

  • by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:32AM (#39425749)

    For example, I can't figure out how to have the clock on the taskbar also list today's date.

    Win 7 ... My taskbar clock also lists today's date.

    It's interesting that many have complained over the years that Windows is too complex because MS gives users too much flexibility.

  • Re:Why not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ProppaT ( 557551 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:38AM (#39425805) Homepage

    But, let's be real. If Open Office doesn't cut it for you, you're going to want MS Office. If Gimp isn't cutting it, you're going to want Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator. I recognize that there are commercial software packages for Linux, some of them very good, but few of them for mainstream users.

    And, of course, you can dual boot or even use Wine to run some Windows programs on Linux, but this isn't what we're talking about. We're talking about Linux for the mainstream. And, to my original point, most of these free ware Linux packages are open source and are available on Windows. I know because I use a lot of them on Windows on a daily basis.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:40AM (#39425833)

    As are as the users are concerned:

    • Photoshop
    • Acrobat
    • Sharepoint
    • Call of Duty
    • Quicken
    • Turbotax
    • Support for their lousy $50 printer/copier
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:44AM (#39425863) Homepage Journal

    Linux us NOT missing features. This is the same B.S. we heard constantly with MacOS in the days before OS X came out. There wasn't features (or software) missing then and there isn't now for either MacOS or Linux.

    What it is missing is simply the user base to get past the tipping point where the even the worst and laziest developers and companies have to take notice because enough people squeal when you do something idiotic like put PHP code in your web page that blocks a non-Windows browser. As a Linux desktop user I still have to deal with this (though not nearly as much as I used to) when all that has to be done is to make the site work with WebKit and/or Firefox. Simple.

    The second biggest category are just companies that are haters, and I have to believe Adobe falls into this area. They have the expertise in house to port the Adobe suite to Linux and Unix but they just won't do it. You can see by their other offerings that they have the ability to do it but they just won't, whether it is because of bean counting or because of OS religious hate. I also think MS probably bends their ear about it because there are plenty of developers that would leave MS behind forever (those that can't afford to go the Macintosh already) if Adobe ported their various tools to Linux.

    Having said that there is a legitimate OS alternative for just about every Adobe tool now except for the super-high-end items (and yes, if you get off your butt and learn it Gimp will do just about everything PS will do save some of the newest of the new items Adobe has come up with. PS is in its place because it made itself the standard and that is what people learned. It's a great application, but 99% of the users won't use the power embedded in it).

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by VolciMaster ( 821873 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @08:57AM (#39425989) Homepage

    My experience is that Windows is missing lots of features. No SSH support; no support for filesystems other than NTFS and FAT; no low level disk tools (dd); poor NFS support; doesn't come with a decent text editor.... I could carry on, but you get the idea.

    fwiw, most people just do not care about what filesystem they run on. It doesn't matter to the vast majority of end-users. For that matter, it doesn't matter to an awful lot of the server world, either - if it really did, Window Server would not have the footprint in enterprise computing that it does.

    While I'd love to have something like ssh for Windows standard, the fact of the matter is that Windows is a GUI environment, and ssh access to that just doesn't make sense - especially when compared to RDP (which, btw, is quite secure).

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:02AM (#39426043) Homepage Journal

    As a former Linux or BSD on desktop user, I gave up a few years ago. I'll still check out Linux or FreeBSD on the desktop from time to time (PC-BSD looks pretty good actually), but it's just too inconvenient.

    Why? At work, we're a windows shop, by necessity. We have a large number of custom applications that will cost multiple millions of dollars, and significant risk to migrate. So work is out. At home? Well, most PC hardware sucks, i'm mostly a laptop user now and Apple make the nicest portable machines.

    Given that I'm going to run a Macbook, well, OS X just works fine for me for the vast majority of what I do. In fact, I can't think of anything I want to do at home that I can't do quicker and easier on the mac than I can with Linux - I have bash, csh, or whatever other shell there if I need it. I have Python, Perl, Java and a C compiler. I also have some awesome development frameworks.

    Essentially, OS X can do anything for me on the desktop, better than Linux, so I see no need to ditch OS X. in fact, there are apps on OS X that I vastly prefer to anything I've seen on Linux. Such as time machine and mission control. There are apps that are not available at all for Linux, such as Ableton Live. And if I really, desperately need Linux, I can virtualize it anyway. Linux can't legally virtualize OS X.

    The "win" from running Linux just isn't there any more. Windows got stable, and OS X is Unix with commercial support and a nice UI. Also, despite what many would have you believe, if you ignore paper spec and just want a decent machine that works, apple is not super expensive. I'm old enough and have been around long enough to not CARE if some other machine is .2ghz faster or has RAM that runs at 1600mhz instead of 1333 or whatever. In real life practical use it makes very little difference - the major gains are when you step from one generation of CPU/bus to another, within a generation its much of a muchness. More important to me is the quality of the display and user input devices/software - and OS X multi-touch is the best interface out there, IMHO.

    Sure, I can customize the shit out of a Unix desktop environment, but you know what? Since KDE3 bit the dust, I haven't seen one I actually like. No matter how pretty it is, compared to the OS X GUI, which is at least stable and fairly consistent, the Unix desktop is lacking. It is too disjointed, too clunky and lately, too fucking unstable. I like Windowmaker, but the rest of the apps to turn it into a proper implementation of OpenSTEP just aren't there, and are too much fucking around to get working anyway, as no distribution seems to give a shit about GNUSTEP, and are all fawning over Gnome or KDE and their latest hair-brained idea of the month.

    So, in short: home desktop = OS X. Work = Windows (with a few BSD machines doing stuff I REALLY don't trust windows to handle). Home servers = FreeBSD. Desktop Linux just doesn't offer me anything significant, given that I'm already buying apple hardware because they make nice laptop hardware (even Linus thinks so). And because it doesn't offer me anything significant, and I already have an OS X license, I can't be bothered putting up with the shit you need to go through (drivers, lack of software like Ableton, etc) to use it.

    And that's before I even get into the political games being played over stuff like h.264, linking to binary drivers, etc. As an end user with money, I don't care about your political ideals. I want an OS that works, and am prepared to pay for it. This is why I run free Unix (FreeBSD or Linux) where it works well, and don't run it on my desktop :)

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:05AM (#39426079)
    Linux is great if your are compiling from source or installing from rpm/deb, but everything is so heavily versioned that writing apps that 'just work' is nearly impossible across any significant range of versions. Developing binary packages for Linux is an exercise in frustration and I can not blame companies from not wanting to invest in doing it. The distribution and kernel developers have stated many times that they do not really think backward compatibility of binaries is something that should be focused on so they don't.

    I use and love linux, but I have no delusions about its deficicines from a developer/user standpoint.
  • Re:heh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:06AM (#39426087) Homepage
    Bingo. I've just put Mint on the wife's machine, and it nearly worked out of the box. But from her point of that, that means that it doesn't work, it doesn't get a free pass just for trying so hard.

    Granted, it is all sorted and working now, but she needed Geek support.

  • Re:Wait wait wait (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:09AM (#39426123)
    The person has a point. Both cases are attempting to force a manufacturer to play by the OS developer's rules rather then their own. People tend to forget that forcing people to open up is still forcing, the fact that it benefits them personally does not change this.
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:11AM (#39426155) Journal
    How does this translate for most people? I've not used Windows for some years, but this is what I remember:

    No SSH support;

    PuTTY seems to work fine. It's not bundled, but it is free.

    no support for filesystems other than NTFS and FAT;

    Except exFAT, UDF and ISO9660. You know, the filesystems that people are actually likely to find on removable media. I love ZFS as much as the next FreeBSD user and cheap snapshots do make a huge difference, but most of the time people only care about filesystems when they come across a disk or flash card with that filesystem. Here, the most likely ones are the ones I listed and of these Windows and OS X are the only ones that support exFAT, which is the standard format for SDHC cards (even though it's patented and not publicly documented), although there is a vaguely-working FUSE exFAT implementation.

    no low level disk tools (dd);

    How often do you actually need to use dd as a typical user?

    poor NFS support;

    But great CIFS support, and I've seen a lot more CIFS deployments than NFS.

    doesn't come with a decent text editor

    Gvim works fine on Windows, and there's a port of EMACS too - both are free. Most users, however, are more likely to care about MS Word, which does run on Windows.

  • by echusarcana ( 832151 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:16AM (#39426241)
    Ten years ago, applications might have mattered. However, OpenOffice (or whatever it is called today) is IMHO superior to Microsoft Office. Gimp and Inkscape are great drawing programs. Casual games tend to be cross-platform while hard-core games don't universally work on Windows anyway - this is what a game platform is for. The printer "just works" without any need for the user to fuss with drivers. The good tax programs are all web-based now. Sharepoint - seriously? - does anyone use that pile of crap? Most importantly, videos and music plays without a fuss. NFS networking actually works all the time, unlike tempermental CIFS. There are no virus worries. And Linux is so much simpler to use than Windows.

    We have 5 computers in the house. My household was purged of Windows about 3 years ago and it was the best move I've made. Maintenance is low. No one is complaining, except the Windows users I know that want me to fix their computers.

    Windows is still dominant because Microsoft uses its monopoly to force manufacturers to charge for it and preinstall it. End of story.
  • by fisted ( 2295862 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:23AM (#39426319)
    >> I chose Windows because I couldn't do what I wanted w/ Linux.
  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:32AM (#39426439)

    You just demonstrated why almost nobody wants Linux: linux advocates are assholes like you who tell everyone not using Linux that they are "clueless." Or "too stupid to own a computer." Or some other sort of put-down.

    The reality is that to get people to switch to Linux, most of the common arguments of the Linux crowd are fucking retarded themselves. Such as the first two:
    #1 - " Free yourself from the Microsoft Tax!!! Build your own Machine!!! " - Most of the the buying public DOES NOT WANT to "build their own machine. They see the computer (inaccurately, but it's how they see it) as a fucking appliance. They think of computers as "I plug it in and it just runs and I get my stuff." This is why Apple's "it just works" campaign was so successful and Microsoft's ads tout "ease of use" as well.

    #2 - " But Linux can do so much more... " - Actually, the problem is that out of the initial install it does so much less of what your average user wants it to do. Sure, there's plenty of "free software" out there, but someone a few comments above pointed out a list of software that Linux simply does not have a port for. The list of software not ported to Linux is pretty fucking long, and trying to get Wine/Cedega running and then run the software under that is just as much a pain in the ass. "Setting up Linux and getting comfy in it" takes a new user a hell of a long while. Which leads into my final point...

    #3 - You don't understand the actual cost of switching. You say "hey we are giving away this thing and it's all FREE YAY." Fine and dandy. You dismiss the "total cost" idea as FUD. I dismiss your accusations of FUD as Fucking Retarded because I can quantify all the things involved in actually convincing someone to switch. Here is what you are convincing someone to do in order to switch:

    1 - Learn how to interact with a new OS. And let's be honest here, most of the programmers in the Linux world are NOT professional GUI designers. Linux desktops, KDE/Gnome, are NOT nice on the eyes and they are not very happy to play around in. Here's one area I have to give Apple some props in: their OSX interface puts some damn pretty and friendly makeup on the pig that was the old FreeBSD interface.

    2 - Learn how to interact with all the new programs they will have to use to "replace" the ones from their old Windows environment. This includes figuring out what the fuck they are called, in which of many disparate distribution groups or online package managers they're held with incredibly poorly written Engrish package descriptions, and then learning the interface for each of them because the last thing Linux programmers ever want to do is use a standard, consistent interface experience.

    3 - Learn how to navigate an entirely new file structure. This is not trivial by any means. Windows and OSX both at least treat logical drives in a sane manner and clearly delineate what is housed where; /dev/sda1/sdb2/ and so on and so forth are a fucking travesty and confuse the ever-loving fuck out of new Linux users.

    4 - Accept that a lot of old, favorite programs just don't exist and don't have substitutes on Linux. Ouch.

    5 - Find out what of their hardware is "supported but not really" under Linux. Such as a perfectly good, perfectly working HDTV tuner card that I had in a windows-based HTPC a few years back. Had a friend who's a linux-head insist I should switch it over to Mythbuntu because it "works so much better" and "supports everything" and "uses so much less resources." Whoops. No support for my HDTV tuner card, no support for my stock ATi graphics board in the unit. Now imagine that for the non-techie you are trying to convince to switch that it's their sound card that won't work, or their joystick, or their printer. They're not going to buy new hardware, they're going to say "fuck you" and go back to Windows or OSX.

    None of this is a trivial issue or a non-cost. And that's the real "cost of switching" you have to overcome to convince people to switch to Linux.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:43AM (#39426567)

    We could use that exact logic to attract the hipster crowd.

    "OSX? Windows? Nah, those are too mainstream for me. Oh, what do I use? Linux. You've probably never heard of it before, though. It's really underground."

    And thus, by hitting the hipster buzz word trifecta ("mainstream", "you've never heard of it", and "underground"), we will get millions of trendy Starbucks loiterers to use it out of spite.

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:49AM (#39426659) Journal

    but everything is so heavily versioned that writing apps that 'just work' is nearly impossible across any significant range of versions.

    So, you should do what the other operating systems do.

    If the library isn't exceptionally stable (e.g. libc, libm), then you ship all the .so dependencies with your program, or statically link.

    It's not hard. It's why you can download firefox or chrome or opera or libreoffice or a whole bunch of other OSS and commercial software for generic linux and have them work with no dependency issues.

    You have to do exactly the same on Windows and OSX, but since those systems are rather sparse in terms of having anything of any use installed, you have no expectation that useful things will be installed on the target machines, so you already know that you have to carry round all dependencies with you.

    It's only an exercise in frustration on Linux because the normal case is so easy compared to the other systems (oh hey, everything I want is already installed! woohoo!). On the other systems, you have already have to put up with the pain and suffering so you don't think about it.

  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @09:51AM (#39426681)

    However, OpenOffice (or whatever it is called today) is IMHO superior to Microsoft Office.

    OO (and the much better LibreOffice, which is what they're calling the good one these days) are very solid but lacking in more than a few features compared to Office. They're not necessarily essential features, but a lot of it is useful stuff. I would strongly disagree with them being called "superior" - I'd say they're more "adequate" than anything else.

    Gimp and Inkscape are great drawing programs.

    But neither of them stack up to Photoshop in features, speed, or usability.

    Casual games tend to be cross-platform


    while hard-core games don't universally work on Windows anyway - this is what a game platform is for.

    No. That stopped being the case years ago. A low to medium end PC will be able to run most games nowadays pretty decently, barring extreme stuff like Crysis.

  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @10:00AM (#39426769)

    Well: 1) You can do anything you want with Windows, and it's equally "free" in the eyes of the consumer, so what's your point?

    And of course 2) no you can't. Can I play Skyrim in Linux? (Yes, yes, WINE, whatever, the answer is: no, no I can't.)

  • Re:heh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @10:08AM (#39426867) Journal

    I'm sure I'll get cursed for pointing out the emperor's winkie is flapping in the breeze but I'll be happy to answer that, its the "busted shitters" that frankly ruin Linux. oh Linux is a nice IDEA, kinda like how communism with everyone taking care of everyone else for the betterment of all is a nice idea, it just doesn't really work in practice.

    For examples there is the docs that are at best an arcane list of CLI commands with fuck all explanation of what they are or at worst a "to do" placeholder, there is Pulseaudio which even the strongest Linux advocate will get the shivers just thinking about, there is the broken driver model which causes things that don't SEEM to be connected to seriously fuck each other up, which seems to hit pulse worse than most but wireless gets shat on frequently as well, there is the insane release schedule which obviously gives the developers ZERO time for regression testing or QA, not that they are gonna do that shit for free anyway, there are the bugs that have been around for years and will obviously NEVER be fixed, please see any distro bug trackers for quite a few, there is the badly inconsistent UI which I would argue is caused by developers just being itch scratchers since they aren't getting paid and therefor don't have to give a fuck what you think, therefor some programs behave like Windows, with Win hotkeys and Win layouts, many rip off Mac horribly which is fucking sad because OSX is a APPLICATION BASED NOT WINDOWS BASED therefor ripping it off for an OS based on Windows (the document format not the OS) makes no fucking sense, and finally there is the old school Unix conventions just to throw the occasional curveball, and finally there is the leaning on CLI as a crutch, whereas in OSX or Win 7 one could remove the CLI completely and have a 100% functional OS that I would argue more than 95% of the population would never even notice CLI was removed with Linux thanks to its actually being a server OS and NOT a desktop OS at heart if you remove CLI you've completely destroyed the OS and many distros won't even boot.

    Now cue the nutjobs who will swear I'm secretly a M$ Ninja robot built by Cyberdyne and plugged into a computer under Redmond, coming off as nothing more than total losers [penny-arcade.com] when the simple fact is you can't change reality and numbers don't lie. To get Linux up to the same level as OSX and Windows will require north of 100 million dollars because NOBODY and I do mean NOBODY is gonna take on the above problems i named, because it will take years of boring as fuck lousy shitty work that nobody willl do for free which is the essence of the busted shitter dilemma. You see you can get humans to create for free, because we like to do this, what you can NOT get humans to do is come fix that turd filled busted overflowing crapper stinking up the joint for nothing and for every creative job that needs doing you have 100 that are the equivalent of the guy that cleans up the puke at the Chuck E Cheese.

    Apple and MSFT have to pay millions upon millions of dollars to get their own busted shitters fixed, which is why you can take a bog standard desktop, install XP/Vista/7 RTM, update it through all those patches and service packs and have ALL the drivers 100% functional. Its not magic, its millions of dollars spent on regression testing and working with OEMs and first party drivers and a shitload of hard nasty thankless work that ends up with something people take for granted. With Linux because of all those busted shitters the support costs will bankrupt you which is why we retailers won't carry your product. I have several XP machines that have been in the field for over 8 years bug free, in fact the machine I'm typing this on is a circa 2004 AMD Sempron still running the default XP install that I kept when a customer traded it in because it was so low powered and quiet it made for a great nettop. Compare this to Linux where I've tried LTS to LTS, LTS to regular, and regular to regular and have YET to

  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @10:13AM (#39426935)

    Ten years ago, applications might have mattered.
    They still do.

    However, OpenOffice (or whatever it is called today) is IMHO superior to Microsoft Office.
    That's fine for your opinion. Unfortunately, your opinion is solidly in the minority and you need to do more than just scream "IMHO THIS IS SUPERIOR" to get people to switch. WHY is it superior? WHAT makes it a better, more user-friendly program? WHAT can it do that MS Office can't?

    Gimp and Inkscape are great drawing programs.
    Great. I can run GIMP on Windows just fine. I can also use Paint.Net. Or any of a number of other programs. Including, if I care to shell out $50, Adobe Photoshop Elements.

    Casual games tend to be cross-platform while hard-core games don't universally work on Windows anyway - this is what a game platform is for.
    Actually, Windows is the platform to target for hardcore games, they don't target OSX.

    The printer "just works" without any need for the user to fuss with drivers.
    Until it doesn't, and then you're up shit creek without a paddle, likely to find some Linuxite telling you "STFU Noob, ur printerz not supprted, go buy a diffrent printer nstead."

    The good tax programs are all web-based now.
    Sure, until you get into filing anything more than the 1040EZ.

    Sharepoint - seriously? - does anyone use that pile of crap?
    You're not going to get people to switch to your alternative - wait, what was your alternative anyways? - just by calling their current solution a "pile of crap."

    Most importantly, videos and music plays without a fuss.
    Some of the time, other times not. Which is a lot like OSX and Windows come to think of it. Best experience I've had with video is running Windows with VLC 2.0.1 installed.

    NFS networking actually works all the time, unlike tempermental CIFS.
    Right until you try to interact with OSX or Windows boxes.

    There are no virus worries.
    Because so few people on the planet use Linux as their desktop that no sane virus writer would even bother. Get yourself any appreciable market share and watch that change in a nanosecond.

    And Linux is so much simpler to use than Windows.

  • Re:heh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 ( 138196 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @10:18AM (#39427013)

    Acrobat != Adobe Reader

    but who does that?

    Whoever created all of the PDFs out there. It was not the PDF fairy.

  • Re:heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @10:24AM (#39427105)

    #1 - OSX acquired a built-in base. They converted existing Mac (OS7, OS8, OS9) users, which depending on how you measured were somewhere between 6 and 8 percent of the market, over to OSX. This included the "Classic Mode" backwards compatibility environment for OS9->OSX conversion, and the Rosetta conversion interface when the PPC->x86 conversion happened. Apple running FreeBSD, unlike most Linux projects, understood that backwards compatibility is fucking important, at least for a long enough period that most users would upgrade/update the applications that otherwise would just break on an OS update.

    #2 - They made their interface look goddamn pretty. This is something Microsoft's been struggling to achieve - though Win7 is actually damn good. This is also something Linux distributions have been fucking goddamn terrible at over the years. Admittedly, because Apple controls their own hardware spec, they have a leg up in that they charged a premium price for extremely high-res monitors (Cinema Display, etc) whereas most people experience Windows on much less high-resolution displays from manufacturers like Dell or HP where the "jaggies" can be a lot more noticeable.

    #3 - Slick marketing campaigning around the "It Just Works" theme, combined with cross-marketing of other fad devices (iPod, iPhone, and the newest line of iFad tablets) to build a whole brand. Again, Linux has completely fucking failed to build itself as a true BRAND - most phone users with an Android phone don't even realize it's Linux-based, they think Google developed Android entirely on their own thanks to the Android marketing campaign.

  • Works for me (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OhHellWithIt ( 756826 ) * on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @11:34AM (#39427977) Journal

    Linux works for me. I've been using it exclusively for home use for about 8 years now. I don't try to "sell" it to other people beyond an occasional nudge because it would be obnoxious in the way that pushing one's religion on others is obnoxious. If someone is interested enough to ask, I'll tell him/her about the benefits I get from it, the same way I would if asked about my religion. But it's a personal choice.

    I frankly am tired of these "Linux desktop is dead" trolls. The user base seems to be growing, and aside from the travesty that occurred with the introduction of Gnome 3, it's getting better and better.

  • by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Wednesday March 21, 2012 @06:28PM (#39434127)

    The fundemental problem with drivers on linux (which I do use at home as a desktop) is that there is a decided conflict between hardware vendors and the linux kernel developers.

    The linux kernel philosphy is that you are open, straight forward about what your hardware does, what resources it needs, and how to access it.

    The hardware vendor philosophy is that you keep all of that secret, create a potentially encrypted or obfuscated blob driver that hooks documented interfaces, loads special proprietary magic code into itself on init, or some other "clever" thing to frustrate people emulating or counterfieting their product, and refusing to budge from it.

    The linux devs say "we won't let you make binary blobs, damnit! Not only is that against our project's development model, it is also a violation of our software license! Doing this makes it so we cannot distribute our software legally if you don't comply! To frustrate you and keep you from doing that shit, we will PURPOSEFULLY change our binary ABI for kernel mode drivers on every release, to force you to work yourself to death trying to catch up, until you see the light and just fucking release the driver source already!

    The hardware vendors say "if that's the way you want to play, we will go over to microsoft's place. They know the value of a good stable ABI, and the importance of keeping secrets. They also have the lion's share of users, so you linux dweebs can go fuck yourselves. You will take binary blobs and like it, or you can go play somehwere else!"

    A small handfull of hardware OEMs "get it", and see how opening their surce code for the linux market, especially in server hardware circles, can firmly cement them as a desirable brand name for hardware that "just fucking works!", like IBM and pals, but for the most part, it is the former, which causes the linux user community (since the line between linux developer and linux user is purposefully blurred by design) have to reverse engineer all the behaviors, quirks, requirements, and secrets of the "oh so secret!" Mainstream devices in order for them to work. Since the users doing this are basically trying to reinvent the wheel with that hardware, they can and often do get things wrong in their reversed driver implementations, and screwy things happen as a result.

    Sometimes hardware makers purposefully try to thwart such reverse engineering, like fucking broadcomm. Their wireless chipsets have to pull a secret binary INTO special memory inside themselves from the driver stack in order to turn on. These binaries are signed, and copyrighted. The card won't accept binaries that aren't blessed with the magic number. As such, you have to cheat and use fwcutter to rip the magic blob out of a windows driver, or load the windows driver fully using ndiswrapper.

    Either that, or spend a few centuries trying to derive the magic key, by which time nobody will care anyway.

    Unless linux reniggs on the open driver requirements (at which point, how is linux different from any other kernel again?), or the hardware companies stop being little bridge trolls (there are some signs on the horizon that show that they might be slowly coming around. A major offender, nvidia, recently said they would start contributing to nouveau, the reverse engineered community driver for their cards. High profile OEMs changing policies and embracing the linux model will only improve adoption, and we can hope more follow nvidia's lead on that), then linux will never have the same direct to market hardware compatibility as windows boxes do.

    It's just the sad truth.

Love may laugh at locksmiths, but he has a profound respect for money bags. -- Sidney Paternoster, "The Folly of the Wise"