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Operating Systems Software Windows Linux

Torvalds Hasn't Given Up On Linux Desktop Domination, Will 'Wear Them Down' (cio.com) 565

Reader itwbennett writes: Linus Torvalds told attendees at the Embedded Linux Conference that although Linux hasn't dominated the desktop like it 'has in many other areas,' he isn't particularly disappointed and also hasn't given up on that goal. "I actually am very happy with the Linux desktop, and I started the project for my own needs, and my needs are very much fulfilled," Torvalds said. "That's why, to me, it's not a failure. I would obviously love for Linux to take over that world too, but it turns out it's a really hard area to enter. I'm still working on it. It's been 25 years. I can do this for another 25. I'll wear them down."
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Torvalds Hasn't Given Up On Linux Desktop Domination, Will 'Wear Them Down'

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  • by sciengin ( 4278027 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @12:46PM (#51860841)

    Miscreations like the Unity and Gnome 3 desktop aside, the Linux desktop has been comparable if not better in user friendliness than Windows since the late 90s.
    What it lacks is a team of rabid marketing people ready to cram it down the throats of unsuspecting users who do not yet know that they need it.
    Now of course there is the temptation of pandering to the masses by trying to be more like OS X or Metro, but this leads to power users leaving and average users still not using it because they do not even know that it exists.

    • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:01PM (#51860973)

      What it lacks is a team of rabid marketing people ready to cram it down the throats of unsuspecting users who do not yet know that they need it.

      I think you misspelled "... to strong-arm OEMs into installing it by default, to the exclusion of all other OSs."

    • I think comparing Linux Desktop to Windows (an MAC) is a mistake. The fact is, we have Linux desktops today, and many of us are already using it. It is called Android. Just because it isn't "Traditional" doesn't mean it isn't so. Change the definition, and you change the answer. I know plenty of people who use Linux desktops, for most of their computing needs. Windows(and even MAC) is becoming less relevant every day.

    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:10PM (#51861077) Homepage

      Sometimes what it lacks is functionality.

      Not so long ago, on an Ubuntu VM (I think), I was trying to change some system configuration or another.

      There simply was no interface to edit whatever it was I was trying to do. You just sort of ran off the end of the earth, and then you were on your own.

      Sometimes what Linux (or even FreeBSD) desktops lack is the actual ability to fully control the machine from the GUI, and then you rely on someone being able to drop to the command line and do the real magic -- which is fine if you can do it, and useless if you can't.

      What is still needs is to have all of the functionality, instead of most of the functionality. It needs to stop being something you build in a kit or have to endless search the interwebs for trying to solve how to do it.

      And, like it or not, it needs better support from software vendors ... I've used the same tax program for over a decade, I rely on that ... don't tell me to use Penguin Tax 0.1 because it's kind almost the same thing and doesn't work in my country and hasn't been updated in 4 years ... don't tell me I can use a web interface, I'm not submitting my fucking tax information on a web interface to a company I don't trust.

      The photo editing software which came with my Canon camera ... I want to use that. Not some abandoned piece of crap which kinda sorta does some of what I need. The software to control my TomTom and do updates? Or update the GPS I use for golf? I need all of those things. There is no Linux version.

      Computers are tools, not toys. I have some tasks I need to do, and either the platform does them, using the tools I want, or it doesn't. And I don't wish to spend hours trying to re-discover some arcanum I knew in the late 90s about UNIX.

      For a good chunk of ordinary desktop stuff, sure, Linux has most of that covered. But as soon as you go off the path, or into something which requires commercial software (which exists and gets used no matter what your ideology tells you) ... then it becomes a largely useless thing.

      I still keep VMs around to play with, or because I can shred through some data better with a UNIX command line than with anything else.

      But I have yet to be able to rid myself of Windows entirely, which means my Windows machine is more likely to be where I run my Linux VMs

      • by dabadab ( 126782 )

        Not so long ago, on an Ubuntu VM (I think), I was trying to change some system configuration or another.

        There simply was no interface to edit whatever it was I was trying to do. You just sort of ran off the end of the earth, and then you were on your own.

        The same also applies to Windows, nothing new here.

      • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @05:35PM (#51863397) Journal

        Sometimes what Linux (or even FreeBSD) desktops lack is the actual ability to fully control the machine from the GUI

        Out of interest, why are you holding Linux to a higher standard than Windows or OSX. I dont't think that for example registry hacks of which there are still plenty are functionally any different from dropping to a commandline interface. There are plenty of websites out there documenting registry tweaks for Windows 10.

    • The only thing holding me back from linux is the gaming portion. That's what pulled everyone into windows instead of apple back in the 90's.

      When linux gaming is mainline, with most if not all titles ported to or written for, windows will vanish from most home pcs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No. What it lacks is a team of people who will answer what the Linux community considers moronic questions. When I install an OS and my sound doesn't work out of the box, I don't need to be told to just google it. Especially when google answers 20 different ways for 12 different distributions, none of which work on the distribution that I actually installed. Microsoft and Apple are popular because they pay a bunch of people to sit around and answer questions to newbies and non-technical people, instead

      • none of which work on the distribution that I actually installed

        That's why I have ubuntu, the most popular linux distro, because somebody always has asked the question I have. If you are on devuan + musl + something else, then you should expect to not find an answer, just as you wouldn't get an answer in a forum if you used haiku.

    • by zieroh ( 307208 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:26PM (#51861227)

      What it lacks is a team of rabid marketing people ready to cram it down the throats of unsuspecting users who do not yet know that they need it.

      I think you fundamentally lack any understanding of why people buy computers, and what mechanisms drive those choices.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @02:44PM (#51861845)

      For some value of "user-friendliness", I guess.

      I've been using Linux since the late 90's and in no way have I found a Linux desktop to be user-friendly in the manner in which I believe that is actually being discussed.

      Yes, it can be relatively user friendly to people who have specific needs that don't require much exploration aside from the immediate browsing or mail or word processing features. That's why everyone seems to have the anecdote that they got it working for their 99 year old great-grandmother.

      Realistically, though, the desktop and UX as a whole has always been a bastard child subordinated to other interests and even outright turf wars. It seems to be able to get to the point where it is skin-deep usable, and then the usability curve suddenly drops off like a cliff if you are not a power user and want to do something slightly odd.

      And someone is always fucking with it. Gnome 2 not good enough for you? Well, let's just fuck it up with Gnome 3. Let's all hate on Unity, now. Et cetera.

      Don't get me wrong, not a Metro fan, but as much as the 8.1 Start menu and all of that is kind of annoying, once I got used to it, it was basically Windows 7 only better or worse in a few small ways. It's still basically Windows.

      That's why for as long as I remember, my Linux development environment has been a VM running on Windows, which is what I actually use when I want a Desktop. My current VM is actually an Ubuntu 15.10 with Gnome 3. I kind of like it for some specific things. I know, however, that as soon as I want to get the least bit clever with it, I'm going to be opening a Terminal session to try to get it to do what I want. And I have the skills and experience to do it, but after going-on 20 years of this crap, I can't be arsed to do so anymore.

      I just don't understand why someone can't just take what is, by all accounts, a superior kernel, on top of superior userland, and not take the lessons of Windows and MacOS and actually make a superior desktop UX out of it. Sadly, I suspect that there may be some things that a dictator is going to get done a lot more easily than a community, and user experience is one of them.

    • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @03:18PM (#51862083) Homepage

      I find my Ubuntu desktop (and laptops) perfectly fine except for one thing: The GC drivers / X Windows sucks like nothing I've seen before. I've tried all three vendors (nVidia, AMD, Intel) and while Intel is the best by a wide margin, I sometimes find myself having to reboot because the whole thing is just frozen. I can even generate it. Just play 2h of Minecraft (I have kids) and ALL GC will crash down in flames. Not to mention the CPU it uses to just look at a video on YouTube.

      Well, maybe it's me. But I'd love to hear another story (A successful one)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Linux on the desktop continues to become more, more friendly towards inexperienced users and more well-supported by drivers and software.

    MS continues to shoot both of its own feet repeatedly with a 12 gauge shotgun with things like malicious and obfuscated Windows updates, dishonest practices in trying to force people onto Windows 10 and embedding legitimate spyware into their OS.

    I think Linux will be doing great if both these trends continue.

  • More distros! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Moof123 ( 1292134 )

    Clearly the problem is that there aren't enough oddly named distros and mash-ups. If only those pieces of spaghetti would stick. Eventually... Sure...

    As a mostly non-linux guy (only at work) who has installed and tried to use a few variants, I just find the experience to be bad. The jargon of the names alone is off putting, I am not installing Hypoxic Ringworm 14.1RC5 3.14.4. Get Mint! No, use Cinnamon Mint!

    Let's face it, Linux on the desktop has too much of a resemblance to HAM radio 20-30 years ago.

  • by flanksteak ( 69032 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @12:57PM (#51860933) Homepage
    I used Linux for my desktop for about five or six years. I got tired of the perpetual beta aspect, especially when it came to always being a step behind on new hardware integration. I learned a ton, though. It seems that Linux's best chance to take over the desktop is Android. As tablets gradually morph into laptop equivalents, Linux may very well become a top desktop OS, only nobody will focus on the Linux part.
    • 8 years Linux and I totally forgot there are other operating systems. Oh well more money and freedom for me.

    • I got tired of the perpetual beta aspect, especially when it came to always being a step behind on new hardware integration.

      When was this? Feels to me like the exact opposite has been true for the past 5-10 years. For example, Linux got USB 3.0 before _anyone_ else did.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @12:58PM (#51860939)

    When GNOME or KDE declare themselves to be a "Linux-based OS" and act accordingly. That means drop official BSD support, stop working with the distros and start competing directly with them. My prediction is that whichever desktop does that would take more ground in one year than they have in the last 5-10 years. It would not only give them focus and tighter integration, but would give them a powerful rallying point and cry for others to join them.

    In some respects, this is why I am bullish on the long term prospects of Ubuntu. My only gripe is that they used GTK instead of Qt.

    • you might be right, two major competing distros could be Gnome/Linux and KDE/Linux battling for the desktop, it wont kill off the other distros but it could wake them up and consider collaborating for a more user friendly desktop for the average joe and jane sixpack PC user
    • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:26PM (#51861225)

      Sorry, it's when all the OEMs jump out of bed with microsoft. Nothing short of that will pave the way. 99.5% of people don't care about the desktop. Any of them are good enough. They take what comes in the box, no muss, no fuss. There isn't a desktop platform design possible that would make today's computer consumer base a purchasing decision or go to the trouble of reloading the OS.

      In the meantime, chasing the hopeless, non-technical goal of 'displacing windows' leads to all sorts of mischief and degradation of the desktop experience.

  • by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @12:59PM (#51860949)
    Linux on the desktop is almost perfect now, and certainly leagues ahead of Windows and macOS. Unfortunately, as long as Microsoft has the power to coerce OEMs, there will be very few good Linux pre-installed boxes for sale.
    • " Unfortunately, as long as Microsoft has the power to coerce OEMs, there will be very few good Linux pre-installed boxes for sale."

      Keep telling yourself that and maybe it will come true... MS doesn't really care enough anymore (and has no need) to coerce anyone these days. OEM's look at the cost to support a novice Linux user and run the other way. "What do you mean my |old device| won't work??". Migrating to desktop Linux is only effective when the novice is being migrated by an experienced Linux us
  • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:00PM (#51860957)
    Any chance of adoption is killed the first time new user gets RTFMed. Until this changes, there won't be desktop linux.
  • by Foxhoundz ( 2015516 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:00PM (#51860967)
    Except a tattered community full of distros that aim high but accomplish nothing.
    • I get my work done perfectly well with MATE, and so it's saved me hundreds of dollars and my private information that would've been sacrificed to Apple or Microsoft. Also, if the figure is right that 1% of desktop users are on Linux, does that not mean something like 70 million people are enjoying similar benefits to myself?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sbaker ( 47485 )

      Hardly nothing!

      What about Android & ChromeOS...BeagleBone and Raspberry Pi...most of the Internet runs on Linux servers...I own a drone that runs Linux, a TV that runs Linux, a Roku box that connects to my TV that runs Linux, so does my home theater system, my laser cutter, my 3D printer...all Linux devices!

      Just about the only place that Linux DOESN'T dominate the world of computing is on the desktop. Admittedly, this isn't the result that most of us expected - or (arguably) desired - but it's one hell

      • I was referring to the article in hand, Linux on the desktop.
    • For any mass appeal there needs to be one face of Linux for the masses. The completely splintered and complex web of distros is great for technofiles who want to geek out to get their jollies, but sucks for anyone who does not want to adopt a new religion just to run a spreadsheet, and write a report.

      Look what OS X has done for BSD. I know a thousand fanboys just threw up on their overgrown beards ("Mom, I need a mop for the basement!"), but by shear number it has put BSD on orders of magnitude more home

  • As he said, it is definitely now possible. I have been using a Linux desktop at work for about 2 years now. It's integrated with our corporate Active Directory, Exchange, windows file shares, etc. The printers work, all my peripherals work, everything I need works. That being said, the process isn't for the faint of heart and is nowhere near stable enough that I'd deploy it to my users. So the next steps are clear: more automation, ease of configuration, and stability. Basically quality control and interfac
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      I think it boils down to a bit more focus on the common use cases.

      For example, look at Active Directory. In the most common usage scenario, it's super dead easy to set up. If you start needing to do advanced things, it's a royal pain in the ass. This is the pattern for much of MS software, super simplified most-common use case, hell on earth advanced usage. The open source ecosystem tends to be easier for advanced users, but frequently never sees the 90+% use case receive adequate special treatment/opti

  • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:02PM (#51860991) Homepage

    The "year of the Linux Desktop" has already come and gone, it was 2008 with ASUS' EEE PC popularity. Even for a while after Windows XP EEE PCs were being sold people would still opt for the Linux one (as it gave you 20GB vs 12GB for the same price) and at least give it a try. I had a 900/20GB model and the Xandros desktop was not bad, especially for beginners, but for the rest of us you really had to enable the "advanced mode" which was a full KDE 3 desktop (yay!). I am not sure why it did not catch on more after so many people where exposed to it, I guess the lack of something that is a *real* replacement for MS Office might have been a factor and possibly the fact that it was not easy to switch to the full KDE 3 desktop (KDE at its finest - made a great replacement for windows) if you were not a beginner computer user, just a Linux newbie and the default tab interface was too restrictive but you wouldn't know how to switch from it.
    Anyway, I don't think there will be another chance like that.

  • I started the project for my own needs, and my needs are very much fulfilled," Torvalds said. "That's why, to me, it's not a failure.

    This is so Linus.

    it's a really hard area to enter. .... I'll wear them down.

    Who is Linus "wearing down" here?

    This speaks to the inherent mistake core Linux developers make that keeps them from accomplishing their (25 year) goal.

    **Users want to use the Linux desktop**...but it's not designed well enough to meet their ongoing needs like an M$ or iOS OS does.

    Even if they don't kn

  • I've been told for years by Indian recruiters with thick accents that I need to know the "Red Hat GUI thing" to qualify for a Linux system admin position. I've always responded that I'm not a GUI but I know the command line quite well. Because they couldn't check off the "Red Hat GUI thing" item on their checklist, I never got an interview. So I finally built a spare system, installed the current version of Red Hat Linux, and discovered... Gnome. KDE was also available. But no "Red Hat GUI thing" that the r

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Note when a recruiter uses such weird vague language, just assume you know better than they do to get to interview the technical team. If the technical team speaks in the same way, run like hell and do not look back (unless you are interviewing to take over leadership of the group, then depends on your personality).

      There used to be RH branded GUI utilities that have been phased out as they basically took over GNOME and free desktop project and injected everything they wanted into those instead, for better

  • Desktop vs Server ?

    MOBILE.. CLOUD..

    Now where does Linux need to conquer??

  • by Sir_Eptishous ( 873977 ) on Thursday April 07, 2016 @01:08PM (#51861061) Homepage
    I have setup Mint for relatives.
    It works great for what they need.

    No problems with drivers, compliling, etc;
    This isn't 2000... or 2004... or 2009...

    The issue consistently turns out to be Office.
    Basic computer users who take classes for such things inevitably have to use MS Office or get trained on it.
  • Well, if Linux on the desktop developers can get their act together before Windows 7 expires, they may well get all the computers that I personally administrate. I have decided Linux is going to be in competition even with Apple for my patronage, but I'm definitely not doing anything with Microsoft so long as the terms of their agreement dictate that they own everything done through their OS. I just won't have any part of it.
  • When talking about the 'linux compatibility' they described it as 'it feels like linux because it is Linux!'

    So either the person writing didn't know specifically what Linux was, or Windows 10 is secretly a Linux distro. I assume the latter.

  • Well, Ubuntu, specifically... in Windows 10.

    I think the numbers do say that Windows 10 dominates the desktop already, so Bash is going to sneak right in on the next major update.

  • It's been 25 years. I can do this for another 25.

    Arlo Guthrie would be proud.

  • I'll be almost dead, but I can hardly wait.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato

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