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Who really killed the Linux desktop?

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) writes | more than 2 years ago

User Journal 8

Steve Jobs and Apple, not Microsoft, killed the Linux desktop.

Think about it. If Apple had never recovered from their near-death experience, Linux would have had a Vista-sized window of opportunity to gain desktop share and interest from commercial software houses.

Also, there would have been no Android phones - they'd all be running a stripped-down Linux instead, since there would have already been a viable commercial software-for-profit ecosystem.

Steve Jobs and Apple, not Microsoft, killed the Linux desktop.

Think about it. If Apple had never recovered from their near-death experience, Linux would have had a Vista-sized window of opportunity to gain desktop share and interest from commercial software houses.

Also, there would have been no Android phones - they'd all be running a stripped-down Linux instead, since there would have already been a viable commercial software-for-profit ecosystem.

And there would be no App store with one company dominating a platform.

cancel ×

8 comments

No (1)

graphius (907855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39144175)

No, Microsoft would have made things so proprietary that nothing else would work. The Internet would be closed, OpenOffice and later LibreOffice would not have had the traction.
I use Mint, and have used a bunch of other distros over the years, but without Apple to keep some pressure on Microsoft, MS would have been able to crush Linux on the desktop years ago.....

Re:No (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39151891)

Apple didn't pressure Microsoft to open up - the EU forced them to over Linux, SAMBA, and file formats. Apple is BFF with Microsoft when it comes to software - they're both partners in patent pools, and more telling, Microsoft sells Microsoft Office for the Mac.

Also keep in mind that Apple came out with their XServes to compete - not with Microsoft - but with Linux, then quietly dropped them when they didn't gain traction.

"He's dead, Jim." (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39146473)

"No he isn't. Look at him, sitting on my computer with his buddy Samba busily getting around Microsoft's insistance that he not interact with the Windows box unless you pay more money for the 'professional' Windows!

"The Windows desktop is alrady on its death bed, and you can't revive him. You have to spend money on another one when he dies. And the new one will need a whole new computer and won't run half your programs. Meanwhile, upgrading Mr. Linux is free, easy, and all your old software still works!"

You can't kill Linux.

Re:"He's dead, Jim." (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39152771)

Well, I'm posting this from Fedora 16, so when I say dead, I don't mean that absolutely nobody uses it - but home users using it exclusively? It's a rounding error.

And you certainly didn't need samba to interact with a Windows box - It's easier to just install Uniform Server on it and let people access what they need to via their browser (or curl or wget). This way, they could be anywhere, and as long as they gave you their router's external IP, it was all good (even for music streaming from home). Sure, you'd have to write a small php file to allow uploads but that's far better than letting $J_RANDOM_USER read and write to any other part of the rest of the file system ... but that's just me.

Meanwhile, upgrading Mr. Linux is free, easy, and all your old software still works!

KDE 4.0 was a real blast, yes sir!

And the latest OpenSuse upgrades broke, not just on my machine, but on several friends machines as well. Clean installs? Still broken. Maybe it's the $100 million that Microsoft agreed to pay Attachmate for more Suse licenses between now and 2015 had them drinking too much schnapps or something ...

And it took me a while to get rid of all that "boot mount disks by UUID" garbage - the absolute WORST idea when you want to be able to swap two drives or more drives mirrored using dd (which you would want to do when making sure an upgrade doesn't barf all over everything, and that a quick jumper setting is all you need to do to swap drives to recover).

I'm not saying that Windows is better - just that the Linux desktop is no further ahead than it was a decade ago in terms of market penetration. When you can't even give it away, and people are willing to pay extra to avoid it, there's a problem. We're obviously not addressing that problem, or people would use it more.

It's not like the bad old days when the excuse was "nobody's heard of Linux." Pretty much everybody has, they just don't want it. They want printers that work, wifi that works, scanners that work, cameras that work, camcorders that work, their games to work, their current software to work, and Linux simply doesn't offer all that.

They don't want "failed to upgrade package foo-bar-az.192.0.17.whatever - required dependencey lib-bin.279.so unavailable". They don't want to do "download, untar, su root, ./config, ./make, ./make install, ./make clean" and then go "how come the new one is not in the menu? I get to old, broken one." Theydon't want to have to hunt through /etc/alternatives (whose stupid idea was THAT???) and follow 8 symlinks to find out what one they have to adjust.

There are so many good ideas in linux, and in the various desktops, but overall, it's getting to be more and more, just one big kludge. Nobody is fixing the real issues because nobody is willing to pay people to fix them, since they will never get their investment back. THAT is the real problem - everyone scratching their own itch, nobody doing the dirty work.

Re:"He's dead, Jim." (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39158979)

Open Server would be great if I needed to access the files from elsewhere, but I don't, so I feel safer with everything behind a firewall.

The reason so few use Linux is because it's hard to buy a PC without Windows preinstalled. Most people have never heard of Linux, or have any idea what an OS is. At least the people I know don't. Hell, I had the notebook that got stolen last year in the bar and one woman asked "what version of Windows is that?"

I'd still be on Windows if it didn't suck.

They don't want "failed to upgrade package foo-bar-az.192.0.17.whatever - required dependencey lib-bin.279.so unavailable". They don't want to do "download, untar, su root, ./config, ./make, ./make install, ./make clean" and then go "how come the new one is not in the menu? I get to old, broken one." Theydon't want to have to hunt through /etc/alternatives (whose stupid idea was THAT???) and follow 8 symlinks to find out what one they have to adjust.

Hmm, I never had any of those problems, but then I haven't tried Suse in over 5 years. My video card didn't like Suse, but Mandrake had no trouble (using kubuntu now). I've been at the command line exactly once in the last year, and that was to reset the root password.

Re:"He's dead, Jim." (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39159923)

With todays huge hard drives, there's no real reason people couldn't install linux alongside windows on a new machine - and yet 99% don't. They try the live dvd, and "yeah, it's nice, but it's not what I need because it doesn't run $abc", where $abc is something different for each person.

Look at how quickly Linux went from dominating netbooks to being an also-ran when Microsoft extended XP's lifetime. Compatibility is a huge factor.

Do I like it that it's that way? No - I paid extra for a second hard drive for my laptop so I could run linux pretty much exclusively on it - except when I needed to do flash stuff, or hardware-related printing, or to access my camcorder, or wireless (because all 3 either never worked properly, or broke every upgrade). Most people would look at that and say "why bother"? I can't really fault them on their logic. Their video player just works, they can seamlessly connect to their other hardware, sound isn't hit or miss, dual or triple monitors need no voodoo, their programs and games just work ...

You'll never see photoshop for linux because there's no market for it. Just like any other company, having to decide "do we try to release a closed-source linux version, with all the hassles between all the different distros, and all the screaming that the freetards are going to do that we're 'evil', or do we devote the same resources to making the next version for Windows that much better?" The financial equation is against Linux, except for a few corner cases.

Novell found that out the hard way - they never made a profit from their linux operations, even after the $465 million "agreement" with Microsoft, Suse is still dependent on Microsoft (Microsoft just committed to another $100 million of SLED and SLES certificates to 2015), Canonical is now further from profitability than ever and it's only a matter of time before Ubuntu joins Kubuntu and Xubuntu as "community supported", Mandriva is fighting to avoid a second bankruptcy, and too many distros have the "Note that these DVD ISOs are made of Free Software exclusively. As a consequence, proprietary Wi-Fi and video drivers are not included." (copied from mageia.org) mentality that is a show-stopper for most users.

Even slackware is dead - while you can download the latest release (April of last year), there are only a couple dozen patches available, for things like firefox and thunderbir, and the package browser has been dead for almost a year http://dannagle.com/2011/01/slackware-linux-is-dead/ [dannagle.com]

Re:"He's dead, Jim." (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39163449)

I could run linux pretty much exclusively on it - except when I needed to do flash stuff, or hardware-related printing, or to access my camcorder, or wireless (because all 3 either never worked properly, or broke every upgrade).

Maybe it's the distro, or maybe it's because I run older hardware, only upgrading when necessary, but I never had any of those problems. Win 7 seems not to have native bluetooth support, since the dongle comes with an install CD for Windows. It's flaky on the Win7 notebook, just works on the kubuntu tower. The only installation needed was plugging in the dongle. Likewise wifi, it just works.

Of course if you need PhotoShop you can't run it in Linux, but really, you only need that for professional work.

It may be dying for big corporations, but it will never die for users. "Market share" is meaningless for anything free.

Re:"He's dead, Jim." (1)

Barbara, not Barbie (721478) | more than 2 years ago | (#39164367)

"Market share" is meaningless for anything free.

I think Gmail, Hotmail, Google docs, Microsoft 365, Facebook, Mozilla (wrt firefox) and a whole slew of others would disagree with you on that.

Market share, even in F/LOSS, attracts volunteers, donations, users for other services, etc. Without that, it either dies or becomes irrelevant (the whole "if an open source project fails in the noosphere and nobody hears it, did it make a noise? thing :-)

Look at Mint - because of the increase in market share, it was able to attract donations of rack space and bandwidth, and enough cash to hire two full-time devs, in the same time frame as Canonical dropped support for Kubuntu. And unlike Canonical, they're open about their finances [linuxmint.com] .

This, of course, is one of the advantages of F/LOSS - someone treats their existing users like cannon fodder, someone else makes a fork that responds better to users desires ... and that's the way it should be.

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