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Should Being Competitive With Windows Matter For Linux?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the reply-hazy-ask-again dept.

Operating Systems 645

An anonymous reader writes "Is Linux being held back by distributions bent on competing with Microsoft Windows? This article argues that it's a real possibility. Quoting: '... what was apparent early on during my Linux adoption was my motivation for making the switch in the first place — no longer wanting to use Windows. This is where I think the confusion begins for most new Linux adopters. As we make the switch, we must fight the inherent urge to automatically begin comparing the new desktop experience to our previous experiences with Windows. It's a completely different set of circumstances, folks. ... The fact that one platform can support a specific device while the other platform cannot (and so on) doesn't really solve the problem of getting said device working. You can see where this dysfunction of thought can become a big problem, fast."

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False dichotomy (1)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169540)

Just because some distros try to act like windows doesn't mean others can't or that it's going to cause others to not try something new. How else would we have 4000 of them?

Re:False dichotomy (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169590)

It isn't just the distros. It is the desktop environments and all the plumbing underneath trying to shovel in the Fail as fast as they can.

Remove manual configuration. Remove features in general. Allow people who openly hate the UNIX Way to redesign core subsystems, losing important things like network transparency and human readable/understandable settings. Microsoft is ditching the registry because in the end users hated so much they finally had to listen to them while we are still chasing those taillights.

End users hate the registry? (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169686)

Who are these mythical registry-hating end users? Nobody in my family has ever run regedit. If I asked my mom to tell me what the registry is she'd tell me that's where she renews her license.

Normal end users don't hate the registry. Half-wits who think they're power users and screw things up tweaking shit are usually the ones that hate the registry.

Re:End users hate the registry? (4, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169706)

People who care about security hate it too. As does anyone trying to fully uninstall an uncooperative program. Things can stay hidden there essentially forever.

Besides, it's a bunch of settings that is completely unorganized, does not exist as a single file anywhere on the hard drive, and is essentially hidden from normal users. It should be hated on principle.

Re:End users hate the registry? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169772)

"Besides, it's a bunch of settings that is completely unorganized, does not exist as a single file anywhere on the hard drive, and is essentially hidden from normal users. It should be hated on principle."
Obviously you are one of the wannabe power users that hates the registry because quite frankly you don't understand what your doing.

1) it is actually a highly organised structure of settings that if you took the time to understand it actually makes finding stuff very easy.
2) it most definitely DOES exist on the harddrive as a file.
3) all settings files SHOULD be hidden from normal users, be it the registry files, config files or whatever other settings files, if a NORMAL user has need of these to be exposed then the developers have FAILED.

Re:End users hate the registry? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169846)

1) In theory. In practice, it's a fucking chaotic mess.
2) No it doesn't. User and system hives live in different files, and then there are a few other hives that are also mounted separately.
3) It's the ABILITY to clear those settings that is the problem. Users don't necessarily need to be exposed to every last setting, but they SHOULD have the ability to wipe all settings related to an application. With the registry, this is nigh impossible.

Re:End users hate the registry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170018)

1) Yes in theory its an organized system. A centralized repository rather than a distributed clusterfuck of files. In theory replacing the registry with config files is no better IF the developer chooses to put settings in random files all over your disk.
2) I'm pretty sure the point still stands - the hive is in a file/files. Your counter point that its more than 1 file makes little sense. Especially considering the Linux standard is many many config files.
3) So your issue has nothing to do with the registry per-se. The issue is poorly written apps leaving breadcrumbs all over your system. Thus the application model and controls are lacking. Simply replacing the registry with config files or even a database is insufficient. The desire to atomically and cleanly install/uninstall software extends past just the registry.

Re:End users hate the registry? (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170168)

1) Yes in theory its an organized system. A centralized repository rather than a distributed clusterfuck of files. In theory replacing the registry with config files is no better IF the developer chooses to put settings in random files all over your disk.

Ah, I still have fond memories of the day some time in the 90s that NT ran scandisk after a reboot, and then put up a message along the lines of 'Ooops, I just deleted your registry. Guess you're fucked, mate'.

And in the traditional unix world there were no 'settings in random files all over your disk'; system-wide files went in /etc and user-specific config in $HOME, all in nice text files that could easily be read, modified and backed up. The registry is an utter abomination in comparison (and the Gnome's registry turds are little better).

Re:End users hate the registry? (0)

Kaboom13 (235759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170050)

Huh? The system hives live in %systemroot%\system32\config and the user hives live in the root of their profile. The system hive is split into like 5 different files, each named for the section they are. I'm not sure why you would want to look at the files, If you want to back them up there are better ways then a flat file copy, and if you want to delete them you aren't going to be able to because they will be in use.

Splitting the hives between the system directory and the user directory makes a lot of sense from a permissions perspective, to consolidate them would mean giving non-admins (able to write to their hive but not the systems) access to directory of files they can't edit and able to see the hives of other users. Putting it in the profile also firmly attaches it to the user it belongs to in a logical way. Either way other then data recovery or forensics, I've never needed to manual access the registry files, and no normal user ever would.

As for the lack of ability to clear settings, the cause is also a part of the solution. The cause is because admins running programs as admins can do whatever they want with the registry, because they are admins. Run a shitty installer, it spews shit everywhere, because it has admin rights and you ran it. The solution to shit in places it doesn't belong is to give an admin user the ability to use a program to modify the registry and change entries that don't belong. The registry cruft problem is entirely one of developer laziness, and you could have the same thing with config files just as easily. If MS forbade admins from modifying the registry in unapproved ways, people would scream murder, and actual admins (as opposed to retards running as admin) would have a legitimate point. A shitty program is a shitty program, nothing stops you from tracking the changes you make to the registry and undoing them 100% later, you could even store that info in the registry!. The registry also fully supports permissions, so you can fully control who can change what, put of course if someone runs a program as an user who has full access rights to everything, and that program writes all over everything, whose fault is that? MS gave you the tools, but you hung yourself. Don't like it, complain to whoever wrote the program, the OS did what it was told by an user with the access rights to do it, a situation could just as easily have happened with config files (and in the pre-registry days, it happened all the fucking time, which is why the registry was invented in the first place).

If you want to actually understand the reasoning behind the implementation of the registry, instead of blindly railing at it because you don't like the result when you let programs you don't trust do thing you dont want to it with wild abandon, look here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/oldnewthing/archive/2007/11/26/6523907.aspx [msdn.com]

The reality is there's nothing wrong with the registry as a design decision, and everything wrong with the security model of run everything as admins, but the reality is even though Windows gives you all the tools to run things NOT as admin, everyone does anyways, even people who should know better, and when they try to do anything to fix it, everyone calls them retarded and annoying because it gets in the way of running everything as admin.

Re:End users hate the registry? (3, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170140)

Your defense of the registry shows how you don't understand application and user behavior. The registry is a foul design decision, and up to XP SP2, was accessible by anything for the worst of reasons. Because of its relationship to the kernel, user space, and hardware, it was ridiculously simple to screw it up, or make it the crux of bad behavior in strange, unusual, and bizarre ways. After XP SP2 when user-space was 'redefined', it continued to be the garbage pail for every bad programming mistake ever made in Windows. It's been bad for fifteen years. It's bad now. Its predecessor config files were evil. It turned into a monster that Microsoft couldn't control-- but every bad hack in the book could.

Hello, Mr. Ballmer! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169960)

Excuse me, sir, but please let us at marketing do this stuff. You at the upper levels of management have no clue of how to properly defend this sorry mess that's the windows registry.

Re:End users hate the registry? (2, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170052)

1) it is actually a highly organised structure of settings that if you took the time to understand it actually makes finding stuff very easy.

The real problem is that the registry's organization is that it:

  1. Has too much hierarchy (what the hell is CurrentControlSet and why is it separate from the configuration for Windows?)
  2. Leads to very, very long registry paths that are impossible to speak or write, and that make everyone's eyes glaze over.
  3. Is inconsistent between system-wide and user-specific hierarchies
  4. Not documented or explained very well.

In short, the registry's ontology is massively overengineered, which makes it imposing, opaque, and inconvenient. In practice, a shallow hierarchy with shorter paths would have worked much better; gconf is better in this respect.

Re:End users hate the registry? (5, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170066)

3) all settings files SHOULD be hidden from normal users, be it the registry files, config files or whatever other settings files, if a NORMAL user has need of these to be exposed then the developers have FAILED.

Wrong, or at least I hope to the powers that be that this is wrong.

It is FAR EASIER to open a config file (with comments if it's complicated) and change what I need than to dig through a maze of tabs and menus looking for the magic option I want.

Re:End users hate the registry? (2, Funny)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169808)

That plus it makes running a backup into black magic. And we have that going for us now as well, only not because of the registry (otherwise known as GConf). Tried to backup a machine that has someone logged in lately? I use rsnapshot, gotta add in special exceptions lest GNOME hose you because they just have to use features that almost no backup program is going to be expecting to find, files that you can't stat... even as root. Only the owning user can enter that directory, all others lose and go mad. Like meeting Cthulu or something. Totally breaking every assumption about how a file system on UNIX is supposed to behave.

Re:End users hate the registry? (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170012)

Only the owning user can enter that directory, all others lose and go mad.

Erm, what's wrong with "chmod og-rwx somedir/"? Any decent backup program should be able to deal with directories with unfriendly permissions.

Re:End users hate the registry? (3, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170160)

> Erm, what's wrong with "chmod og-rwx somedir/"? Any decent backup
> program should be able to deal with directories with unfriendly
> permissions.

Root is immune to normal permissions. Thus backup programs running with root privileges assume they may read any file on the system. Taking a complete backup of a filesystem is otherwise impossible unless you go the dump2fs route and manually frob the raw device file. ~/.gvfs doesn't actually need to be backed up, but having to manually exclude it is a PITA and is certain to grow more exceptions over time.

The breakage of the UNIX API is in the fact it blows chunks just asking what sort of thing that name is and what it's permissions are. As a separate filesystem my configuration of rsnapshot wouldn't try to back it up anyway, but it gets into trouble just trying to determine that it is a mount point.

Re:End users hate the registry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169986)

Besides, it's a bunch of settings that is completely unorganized, does not exist as a single file anywhere on the hard drive, and is essentially hidden from normal users. It should be hated on principle.

You do realize that you just described your average Linux distribution's configurations, right?

Your second point is VERY much true, your first is true by default, and your third tends to apply, though the hidden nature is trivial to escape.

Re:End users hate the registry? (3, Informative)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170020)

People who care about security hate it too.

I do? The security model makes sense, you have coarse-grained user oriented controls (like UNIX has) and also fine-grained NTLM permissions. Kind of like a file system for keeping small pieces of data.

As does anyone trying to fully uninstall an uncooperative program. Things can stay hidden there essentially forever.

How is that exclusive to the registry? You can at least search through it all pretty easily. If a program doesn't want to be uninstalled there are better ways to stick around than using the registry.

Besides, it's a bunch of settings that is completely unorganized, does not exist as a single file anywhere on the hard drive, and is essentially hidden from normal users. It should be hated on principle.

It's in C:\Windows\System32\config\ .. Yes it is hidden from normal users, because it should be. If it's unorganized that's down to the applications which use it (like the filesystem itself). For the most part applications use interfaces which automatically write only to their designated areas, and it's well organized. Either way the important thing is that it can still exist while being unorganized.
Anyway is /etc, /usr/local/etc, ~/.appname, ~/.gconf/, /var/db, etc really more organized/logical?

If you think it's hidden and want access to it you can use regedit, or better yet use powershell, and you can navigate the registry like a filesystem:
> ls -Recurse HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft | where { $_ -match 'Explorer' }

Mainly though it's just a remake of a non-distributed, integrated LDAP. If Linux used OpenLDAP for configuration instead of config files it would look pretty similar.

As is often the case it's the people who misuse the platform that deserve most of the criticism that the platform gets..

Re:End users hate the registry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169732)

No time to log in...must post...


Registry is bad, but not for the reasons you think (5, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169880)

The registry isn't bad because it's stored in binary form, or because it's heirarchical, or because it supports transactions, or because it has ACLs. These are good (or at least acceptable) things.

The registry is bad because it's global and forces a lot of configuration to be global as well. For example, COM components are registered globally, so only one DLL can be associatded with a class ID at a time. That's why you can only have one version of Internet Explorer installed on the same machine. Yes, users have their own registry subtress, but not every key can be configured under the user-specific heirarchy. Even a user-specific key can only have one value at a time for a given user. Unix systems, on the other hand, use environment variables to hold (or point to) configuration information, which results in a lot more flexibility.

Because registry values are global, application developers only consider the case of running one program at a time. If you want, say, two copies of Outlook, each with different settings, you'll need two separate users. A lot of programs don't even support multiple concurrent instances, which is maddening.

Another maddening side effect of the registry being global is that it's not possible to have the equivalent of NFS-mounted home directories under Windows. Say you have a domain user foo\bar on machines A and B. It's natural to want them to have the same %USERPROFILE% (read $HOME) on a fileserver somewhere, and on Unix, that works just fine. But under Windows, when the user logs into machine A, the system will lock ntuser.dat (the file containing the registry), which prevents the user logging in under machine B. Application-specific configuration files that are locked only during actual changes don't have this problem.

The global nature of the registry also makes it difficult to maintain application configuration: if you want to isolate the configuration information used by a program, you're essentially reduced to looking at procmon output and seeing what registry keys it touches. While in principle programs should limit themselves to storing information under HKLU\Software\Blah\..., in practice, they scatter stuff all over the registry, especially when they register COM stuff. You can't keep just, say, Word's configuration under version control.

When people say they hate the registry, what they mean is that they hate that Windows is not very well-modularized. Isolating one application's registry configuration is like removing one egg from an omelet.

A better model would have been to have application-specific registries, searched according to a PATH-like environment variable. In this scheme, when the system needed to, say, look up a COM class ID, it would just search each registry in sequence until it found the right one. Applications would simply store their configuration and registration information in their own registry, making management easy.

But like most Windows brain damage, this scheme wouldn't have worked on a 386SX with 4MB of RAM [msdn.com] in 1995, which means it can't possibly be changed in 2010. As we all know, design decisions are irrevecorable and eternal (and I'm only half-joking).

Re:Registry is bad, but not for the reasons you th (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169984)

Oh, lest I forget: making registry typed was a bad decision. Plain text is a lot easier to manipulate and a lot more consistent for developers and administrators. Is storing "1" really much worse than storing (DWORD)1? (The former is actually smaller if it's NULL-terminated!)

I really don't think storing simple strings in the registry would have hurt performance much either: the registry is explicitly intended for small, infrequently changing pieces of information. The serialization and unserialization aren't really much of a problem, and Microsoft could have provided convenience functions. If the registry were loosely typed, it'd be lot easier to expose it as an ordinary writeable and mountable* filesystem. As it is, the best you can do is read-only because there's no way to tell what type a key should have when it's written. You have to provide special juju for writing keys because of the typing nonsense.

I've seen a lot of configuration bugs in both the Windows and Unix worlds. I've never seen one caused by loose typing of Unix configuration information, and I've seen a lot of pain caused by strong typing of Windows configuration information.

* Yes, Windows can mount arbitrary filesystems in arbitrary places in its name heirarchy. Few people use this facility; personally, I keep everything under C:\ just like a Unix system.

Re:Registry is bad, but not for the reasons you th (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170006)

The registry is bad because it's global and forces a lot of configuration to be global as well. For example, COM components are registered globally, so only one DLL can be associatded with a class ID at a time. That's why you can only have one version of Internet Explorer installed on the same machine.

Is the registry really the reason you can only have one version of IE installed?

Firefox uses the registry and I have more than one version of Firefox installed on a machine.

Re:Registry is bad, but not for the reasons you th (2, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170088)

Firefox stores the vast majority of its configuration information in user profiles, not in the registry. It also uses its own COM system internally, not the one provided by Windows.

Re:Registry is bad, but not for the reasons you th (0)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170130)

The registry is possibly the way it is to make it harder to pirate software and clone Windows accurately. It's security through obscurity, or chaos. Sure, it doesn't outright prevent such, but being a mess slows down copying software by casual hackers or the making of an accurate Windows emulator. It's usually easier to reverse engineer and/or emulate something that's clean and logical than something only a (profitable) mother could love.

Windows is the only place left for Linux to expand (5, Insightful)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169564)

Linux has a 90% share in supercomputers, a 50% share in servers (+/- 10%), and a pretty good share of cell phones and other mobiles, if you include Android and other semi-proprietary systems. The only place to expand into it the desktop, where the market share is at most 5%. So, why not?

Re:Windows is the only place left for Linux to exp (2, Interesting)

falckon (1015637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169598)

I half agree. Linux does not have to be "like Windows" to be suitable as a Desktop OS. It does however help people make the transition, and it could certainly use the market share in order to influence driver developers and video game developers to think of Linux. There is something to be said for keeping the things that make Linux lovers love it, but this is the beauty of having hundreds of distributions.

Re:Windows is the only place left for Linux to exp (5, Interesting)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169862)

While I am more techy than most of the people I worky with (Hence I am sitting here reading this at work) most of the folks around me look at PCs simply as a tool. Can't teach them new tricks? Bollocks. A lot of my time is spent working with business teams who are looking to improve their way of doing business and teaching them about how different programs can be used to get the information they want.

Want to find your current sales trends in a way that you haven't been able to before? Okay, well, we have the data in this thing called Datawarehouse. Our reporting team will be able to provide you a set of reports, but they take a long time to develop and check. If you want to do some quick nasty analysis to fend off a crisis, there is a program called TOAD that will let you directly query your data. Look difficult? Lets go through how it works and how you write a SQL query.

Result: In the last Two years, I have introduced around 100 users who are NOT tech savvy at all to the wonders of SQL queries. They are now in various stages of competence, but they are using new things.

My (belated) point here is that while something like Toad (or now replace with Linux) isn't something that they can just pick up and run with, if people see a benefit to it, they WILL make the effort to learn how to use it.

In my mind, Linux really needs to advertise the benefits it has to the ordinary person so that they are enticed to make the effort to learn how to use it. Having said that, the easier it makes this learning process, the less advertising it has to do.

Re:Windows is the only place left for Linux to exp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170164)

does it really? OS X isn't caught up in pure windows competition and were it not for the insane price that's a barrier to entry for a lot of people would probably be doing even better. OS X, being X based at it's core, it a great example of a viable alternative that is incredibly easy to use but also powerful to customize and tweak as needed. Linux needs to try to be more like OS X, not Windows.

Why not? (3, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169798)

"The only place to expand into it the desktop, where the market share is at most 5%. So, why not?"

Because it requires linux development to embrace the following:

- Interface design that specifically and completely bars programmers from participating
- Abandonment of 99% of the distros
- Acceptance of proprietary drivers when offered (normal people don't give a damn about open source philosophy)
- Provision of real, available, phone-based technical support
- Real, complete documentation

I have seen someone mocked for buying one package when some pinhead thought another would be more appropriate for the application. It was something like, "Well, what did you expect picking that? It's like you wanted to fail." Most people here have seen PLENTY of derision of new users.

Why not? Because a lot of the community is poison for end users. That's why not.

Consolidate, standardize, and corporatize. Staff and support. Advertise. Court developers. In other words, build a better Microsoft.

Or, remain "pure", disjointed, and niche on the desktop. Rule the world from the server. Personally I think linux should abandon the desktop. By the time they get there, technology will have made the point moot.

Re:Why not? (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169840)

It sounds like you're looking for Ubuntu: http://www.ubuntu.com/ [ubuntu.com]

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169942)

"It sounds like you're looking for Ubuntu"

I had to run a control panel from the command line using sudo in order to make it keep my dual monitor preferences as recently as last year. Of course it didn't tell me that... it just reset to single monitor mode each reboot.

I'd say more (lots of fun with that distro - gave up after 6 weeks), but that's enough. It's working as designed, and broken for end users.

Re:Why not? (3, Informative)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170116)

I had to run a control panel from the command line using sudo in order to make it keep my dual monitor preferences as recently as last year.

As recently as last year.... So one year ago (it's November). That's at least two versions back, maybe three. You should try it again. I am especially impressed with latest 10.10. I wasn't sure if I would like it, but I do. There are always a few bugs...sound in particular was annoying while all the Pulseaudio nonsense was being sorted out. But I haven't had a problem yet with the latest version. I don't have dual monitors, so can't vouch for that.

Also, "has a few rough spots" does not equate to "broken for end users." I've installed Ubuntu for plenty of people, and yes there have been occasional hiccups that I've had to help them fix, but completely usable. They're not going to delete their Windows partition any time soon, but they are happy booting into and using Ubuntu for various things.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169948)

Wait, so a distro should do things your way, and everyone else should shut up shop?

I think you'll find that's the beauty of open source, everyone can do it the way they want to. If you can persuade people that your way is the best way then some may join you.

Abandoning 99% of the distros would piss off a large portion of users. Why abandon any of them? If you come up with the perfect interface (TM) then they can all ship it, if it's right for them?

Or are you trying on that old argument that the very concept of a distro is confusing to people who just want the linux on their computers?

Well good luck with that.

Re:Why not? (0, Troll)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170010)

"I think you'll find that's the beauty of open source, everyone can do it the way they want to. If you can persuade people that your way is the best way then some may join you."

This is exactly what's wrong. Normal people - end users - don't want to search for the magic combination and then evangelize it. They just... don't... care.

"Or are you trying on that old argument that the very concept of a distro is confusing to people who just want the linux on their computers?"

Again, they just... don't... care. And if you ask them to wade that sea of ridiculousness they'll swiftly be lured back to the comort of the tried and true.

Talk all you want about the beauty of being able to do it each in our own way but linux is still stuck in the single digits for desktop acceptance, and it's not all application lock. Lots of people jumped ship to Mac. Why not linux? Why not indeed.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170078)

"This is exactly what's wrong."

No, it's exactly what's right. Linux is not ever going to have a "one-true distro", no matter how much you demand it.

If that means that 'ordinary' people aren't going to use it then I can't say it bothers me, not in the slightest.

Hell, 'normal' people aren't even going to install a new OS on their computer, ever. In a lot of ways that makes this discussion completely irrelevant as the people who need to be persuaded are manufacturers and distributors, not users. If the likes of Dell started to offer something like Ubuntu as a Windows alternative across a decent proportion of its range (instead of offering only a few, generally pretty poor machines) then that would help adoption I suppose.

But as I say, it's kind of irrelevant. Desktop linux is awesome for my needs and somehow development has struggled on and improved for 15 or so years.

So what if it's not the year of the linux desktop?

Re:Why not? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169970)

Canonical offers desktop support, as do a few OEMs. I don't think end-user support is a huge issue though. Most computers sold nowadays come with a 90 day warranty. After that, people are for the most part on their own. So they go to "that kid across the street" for help. If said kid knows how to use Linux, the end user gets just as help as they would with Windows.

Conceded (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170054)

I see that Ubuntu offers "installation, application and desktop configuration support" for Ubuntu Desktop Edition at £88.42 / year.

I concede that point.

Re:Windows is the only place left for Linux to exp (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169938)

Yup, as more businesses install Linux desktops it will become more widespread in that market segment. It will be a slow process, but each time MS stumbles, Linux will be there.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169566)

Just make a good OS. If you must copy something, at least go with something that is nice to use, like say Mac OS X.

linux (5, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169578)

can be anything we want it to be. It is, after all, open source and can be modified to suit many different purposes. Should Linux compete directly with Windows? That's a stupid question. Linux should do what the user wants and if that happens to put it on a collision course with Windows then so be it.

Re:linux (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169754)

Agreed, but not every user has the time to spend customizing every aspect of the OS and each application. I share the author's frustration at a "Linux experience" that keeps trying to be Windows-like and ends up feeling like a cheap knockoff. Windows sucks, and most applications written for Windows suck, and everyone knows it; it's the search for a better alternative that drives most users away from Microsoft's smothering embrace out into the wild world of F/OSS in the first place. So why is it so damned hard to find a distro with a UI that doesn't try to look like Windows, or a word processor that doesn't try to look like Word, or what-have-you?

Re:linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169870)

Most Windows users like the general experience, but hate certain aspects - security for one, cleanly removing programs for another. Imitating the most popular interface and its support of legacy applications is not a bad thing.

Re:linux (2, Insightful)

ewieling (90662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169930)

"not every user has the time to spend customizing every aspect of the OS and each application."

You have just described one of the primary reasons I've not switched to Windows 7. I am an XP user with all the stupid eye candy turned off so it has a mostly Win2k UI.

I don't want to spend a week learning a new OS. At some point I'm sure that I will have to, but not yet.

Re:linux (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170002)

"I share the author's frustration at a "Linux experience" that keeps trying to be Windows-like and ends up feeling like a cheap knockoff."

Funny, I haven't noticed that since the early days of fvwm95 and really early KDE versions.

If anything Ubuntu is trying very hard to emulate the MacOS look and feel, and other distros are doing their own thing.

Linux is everywhere. (4, Insightful)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169592)

There is hardly a soul on this planet who's life is not touched by linux in some fashion every single day. Windows has another chunk taken out of it every day it is death by a thousand cuts. If things continue on the path they currently are nearly everyone is going to be running around with linux in their pocket and soon. I saw a guy today with a droid in one hand and a kindle in the other, now that brought a smile to my face.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169698)

There is hardly a soul on this planet who's life is not touched by linux in some fashion every single day. Windows has another chunk taken out of it every day it is death by a thousand cuts. If things continue on the path they currently are nearly everyone is going to be running around with linux in their pocket and soon.

Jesus. Every time I start to think that the Linux userbase isn't as bad as its reputation, someone like you comes along and proves me wrong. What you wrote there looks like it was copied and pasted from a KCNA [kcna.co.jp] post after a search-and-replace to get "Linux" and "Windows" in there...

Re:Linux is everywhere. (0, Troll)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169740)

Uhh.. what? I know lots of people who's lives are not touched by Linux in any way whatsoever. They don't own smartphones or tivo's or even flat screen tv's. They don't own ebook readers, or even surf the internet. Exagerate much?

Re:Linux is everywhere. (3, Funny)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169814)

Yes ok, amazon jungle tribal members probably do not use linux very much.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169866)

Don't forget the Amish.

Amish people hate Linux. mr man is probably Amish posting from Win 3.1.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (2, Informative)

codepunk (167897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170024)

Actually I know a Amish dude that runs Linux on his desktop, there goes the Amish theory.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170036)

Yes ok, amazon jungle tribal members probably do not use linux very much.

Neither does the half of the world population who live on less than $3 per day.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170070)

It's pretty rare to live in some way in the West that doesn't involve some level of internet use. Google, Wikipedia, & Facebook, & email amount for a very large portion of internet traffic. Google, Wikipedia, & Facebook all use Linux heavily for their webservers. Large portions of e-mail servers either run on Linux or rely on Linux servers to route the mail.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (1)

slinches (1540051) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170096)

I think the GP may have been using a little known literary device called hyperbole.

Besides, Linux is so pervasive now that many people who have never used a computer benefit from Linux indirectly. If they've ever hooked up to the electric grid, or used a phone, or bought anything that wasn't produced locally, they have likely used services that rely on Linux. I think it would be difficult at this point to avoid being "touched by Linux" in some way without being completely isolated from the global economy.

Also, it's exaggerate.

Re:Linux is everywhere. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170114)

Do they drive? They've been affected by traffic light control systems, which may be running Linux. Have they ever made use of a medical advancement? Linux is popular in scientific research.

It's not very hard. You don't even have to push a button to receive bacon. Uh, I mean, be affected by Linux.

Windows is so yesterday (1)

Yergle143 (848772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169996)

You're so right. The desktop is moving towards being obsolete -- a work thing. Why should Linux care with the juggernaut Android crushing MS in the real world? Developers, don't even think about the desktop, focus on the phone and the coming andro-pad.

If Linux wants to have broader adoption... (5, Interesting)

RocketRabbit (830691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169606)

Linux must compete with Windows if there is ever going to be a "year of Linux on the desktop."

That would force manufacturers to release more compatible products, perhaps even contributing drivers to the kernel. It would spur the release of more commercial software, and gather more interest in the open source software that already exists as well as fostering new growth there.

Computers would be cheaper, as there wouldn't be a Windows tax, and additionally there would be more form factors available. How about ARM laptops with 30-40 hour battery life? Oh, sorry, that's not really happening now because manufacturers are afraid their customers will be confused, and they are afraid of losing their partnering bribes - I mean "incentives" with Microsoft.

Linux on the desktop, from the store, for average people, with first-party support, is extremely desirable for the future of computing. One thing that would be nice is to see some Linux games. Oh sure, you can run Wine or one of the commercial variants of Wine, but most people are just going to stick with Windows.

Re:If Linux wants to have broader adoption... (2, Funny)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169690)

@manufacturers contributing drivers to the kernel

OK, why then Linux doesn't provide the same driver interface as Windows? I believe similar goal has that ReactOS Windows clone.

Re:If Linux wants to have broader adoption... (2, Interesting)

phek (791955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169782)

you do realize that switching to ARM laptops would fuck up a lot more software than the OS right? also the laptop would be fucking expensive because the ARM architecture doesn't have a shitload of manufacturers developing pc peripherals for it (there's a reason apple switch away from ppc).

also a good majority of manufacturers are contributing to linux drivers, whether it's actual drivers or just specs so someone else can write the drivers.

Re:If Linux wants to have broader adoption... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169890)

Why would an ARM laptop be that much different from an ARM smartphone? Those seem to work okay. They are expensive because they are tiny.

Re:If Linux wants to have broader adoption... (4, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169992)

You do realise you're talking bullshit, right?

You can already get the Toshiba AC100, and ARM laptop/netbook thing based on nVidia's Tegra platform. It ships with Android but Ubuntu apparently runs nicely already. It's pretty cheap.

ARM have PCI and PCIE bus available as well as a lot of other standard stuff like USB.

Inherrant dissasembly (0, Troll)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169608)

When one continues to think of "Windows Interface" as sub-par, less intimate, less romantic, or beneath them one does not think outside the box. Windows, in its simplest form, is a way to present options to someone, that would otherwise have to look up KB, help, manuals, etc. to find. Some feel that this is a better way to "get to know your software", but the reality is that it leaves open holes and unknown potential for software. Our world is fast paced and crazy, sure taking the time to read up on something and discovery can be fun and exciting, but there are other things to do in life.. like explore that backyard you have.

So, in my world, competitive is a matter of ease of use, security, and cost. Linux can solve a problem that Windows cannot without programming, and Windows may be a better option due to integration and ease of use for my users.

Competition? PPFFFTTTT, not at small to mid-level business range.

The answer is no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169610)

Linux is not being held back by distros trying to compete with Windows.

The desktop is not where the majority of computers are. Almost certainly, we have more Linux in embedded devices and cell phones than the total number of desktop computers (Windows or otherwise).

The majority of Linux users aren't aware that they are using Linux.

Uhhh... Well... Ya (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169658)

If the objective is to be a desktop OS that everyone can use then yes you are defacto competing with Windows. That doesn't mean doing everything just like Windows does but it does mean competing.

Also if you want to compete EFFECTIVELY it does mean trying to do the things that Windows can do. That doesn't mean looking or acting precisely the same, but it means being able to handle the same kinds of tasks with the same (or better yet less) effort.

Remember that to most people computers are tools. They have various things they want to accomplish with them, and they want the tool to be easy and helpful in doing that. As such, to win them over you need to be able to accomplish their tasks, and to do so with a minimum of fuss.

Expecting people to be willing to troubleshoot and learn more about Linux is complete bullshit. It is effectively being lazy, it is saying "We can't make our shit work right or be easy to use, so we expect you to pick up the slack and learn to deal with it." That is NOT an acceptable solution, because the response from people will be "Fuck you, I'm not using it then." They don't want to become experts in computers, they just want to use them to accomplish whatever it is they are after.

It is no coincidence that as computers have gotten easier to use, more people use them. Back when computers were first invented not only were they expensive, but you practically needed an advanced degree to operate them. You had to program them in raw machine code, every program was something newly created, you had to solve electrical problems, etc, etc. There were just few people that could deal with that. As things got successively easier, more friendly, the world of computing was opened to more people.

Now it is fine to feel Linux shouldn't go the desktop route, that it should be a server/embedded OS and desktop use should be primarily incidental. However if you want it to flourish in the desktop market then that means it does have to compete with Windows and it does have to get easy to use. "Recompile your kernel," are words that must utterly vanish from any normal kind of support, source code is something a user can't be aware of needing, the command line should be for experts only, and so on.

To try and think otherwise is not only arrogant, but myopic. You only have to look at the world to realize the vast complexities of things out there, and how much we must all specialize. To decide that computers are the one special thing that everyone should want to become interested and expert in is silly.

Re:Uhhh... Well... Ya (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169822)

Also if you want to compete EFFECTIVELY it does mean trying to do the things that Windows can do.

"The things Windows can do" are things that pretty much every OS+UI been able to do for damn near twenty years. There's nothing magical there, and yes, obviously any desktop OS needs to be able to do those things. The problem is that a lot of people working on Linux distros and software seem to have the idea that "competing effectively" means copying, rather than trying to find a better way to do things.

Look, nobody will ever be as good (or bad) at being Microsoft as Microsoft is. Try to make your UI look like Windows, or your word processor look like Word, and you're not going to fool anyone. Most users aren't going to be impressed at what a great job you've done reverse-engineering Microsoft's crappy standards. They're just going to say, "Why should I go with a knockoff when the original comes free* with my computer?" Chasing anyone's tail, in any industry, is usually a losing proposition. Chasing the tail of a lame, half-blind, diarrhetic horse just means you don't get anywhere very fast and end up covered in shit.

*Yeah, I know. From a marketing perspective, the "Windows tax" makes no difference at all to the vast majority of computer buyers. Deal with it.

one recent new Linux user experience I saw (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169660)

Someone I know was fed up with viruses so tried to install Ubuntu on her laptop.

Somewhere along the line it said her wireless networking card was not supported and pointed her to a big page of very cryptic instructions. There's no way she was going to manage what the page was telling her to do. Hell, even though I probably could have done it, I probably wouldn't have bothered either.

She went back to Windows (out of no other choice really). So there's one potential new Linux user who didn't get past square one.

Anyway, I don't want to see Linux become Windows. We have a Windows already, it's called Windows. But Linux *would* get more adoption if it could do things like play Netflix streams. I know, I know, "it isn't Linux's fault". But it's Linux's *problem*, no matters who is at fault. Users don't really care about fault, they just want it to work.

My thoughts on Linux (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169678)

Linux didn't kill Windows, it killed commercial unix.

windows does not WORK for me, linux does... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169702)

i recently had to resurrect a computer that had been running winXP and then the hdd died... i went out and got win7 (32bit) figuring id just upgrade to the latest/greatest... when the first post-install boot did not recognize anything useful on my mobo (ethernet, sound, video) and i was running in 1024x768 (i think) mode, i went online to see if i could find updated drivers (particularly for the ethernet)...

guess what ? my mobo (asus p5rd1-vm) was one of the ones that did NOT make the cut to be supported in win7... uhm, hello ? there were drivers for vista, but they didnt really load up or work for me (unsupported windows version msgs)...

finally, i gave up - grabbed a local copy of ubuntu-10.10 and sure enough - everything just-worked !!! ethernet, sound, video - it was all good...

this is the first time in my many years of reinstalling os systems that id EVER had this reverse-issue.... usually i was trying some latest/greatest linux version and struggling to get my sound-card-drivers working, whereas windows was always ok...

windows-7 is the final straw (i remember the horrible forced-transition from dos to 16-bit windows, then 32-bit, and now basically 64-bit)... linux is the way to go - and ive been installing it on several friends machines - and theyve all been doing fine...

Re:windows does not WORK for me, linux does... (0)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169916)


you're description of Windows 7 sounds like every Windows install ever.

Install, and hunt for drivers one at a time. Thankfully the network would usually work if I had an old add in card lying around.

With Linux (for a long time now, since Red Hat 5.x) boot off CD, and everything worked, or it didn't, but very little futzing around. Of course this meant things like 3-D acceleration didn't work (later NVIDIA drivers fixed this, and they are pretty much an equivelent install as a Windows graphics driver). Sound wouldn't always work, but it was rare that it would ever work, if it didn't right off the bat). Network pretty much always worked, except for Win Modems for a while.

But Windows almost always needed a sound driver, a graphics driver, and sometimes a network driver (which is a real pain, and was also quite likely with a Win Modem).

Also, when running without a graphics driver, the graphic on Windows was abysmal (800 x 600 low color).

Just look at Google for your answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169716)

It doesn't take a windows replica to we wildly successful. Android and Google Chrome OS will enlighten everyone to this fact in the next 12-18 months.

Nobody needs to compete with Windows for customers (3, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169736)

Competing with Windows for customers ranges somewhere between silly and stupid. If you want more Linux on the desktop, you need to court developers and software vendors.

Linux works great as an OS. It has penetrated servers well because the server software (both new and inherited from other Unixes) is great. It has penetrated the embedded market largely because new apps were written for it and the new devices. It has penetrated embedded markets because they write everything they need anyway, except the kernel and maybe the C libraries give them a head start.

What you need to break into the desktop market with established applications from established application providers is applications as good or better. If you give gamers the chance to install games from EA, Valve, Blizzard, Bioware, and id on launch day, they will come. If you get Photoshop or some absolutely full-featured replacement for it on Linux, you'll get many of those users from Windows or Mac. If you get a true replacement for Peachtree and Quickbooks, you'll get more small businesses using Linux as their accounting desktops.

People who seem to understand network effects when it comes to social networking sites, instant messengers, P2P, etc. seem to forget all about them when it comes to desktop platforms. The more classes of application in which your platform is the leading installation target for the best apps, the more valuable your platform is. Linux has this for servers, embedded devices, and to some degree mobiles. If you want it to be a major desktop player, it needs this for desktops, too.

Personally, I use Linux on the desktop far more than Windows and I have for years. I still need some Windows or Mac systems around for the applications I just can't run well on Linux. I say "Windows or Mac" because most of the applications I can't run on Linux properly have versions for both of those platforms.

Linux doesn't even need to take developers from Windows to become much bigger on the desktop. It could become a third platform for companies supporting Win and OS X. It could become a second platform for companies doing Win or Mac. It could even replace OS X as the second platform for some software companies that do windows and Mac now. Adobe comes to mind, as they are practically at war with Apple right now anyway.

Re:Nobody needs to compete with Windows for custom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169842)

Wrong. Developers who write for profit won't write for Linux unless there is a large enough market.

Re:Nobody needs to compete with Windows for custom (4, Insightful)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169894)

> Competing with Windows for customers ranges somewhere between silly and stupid. If
> you want more Linux on the desktop, you need to court developers and software vendors.

Nope. If you want more users you need preloads. 90% of people would never survive a Windows install if it didn't come preloaded by an OEM who did all the twiddling to have the hardware mostly work out of the box. Anaconda actually does a better job compared to the Windows installer as far as leaving you a working machine when it finishes. Doesn't matter because end users can't use either one and refuse to even consider the possibility.

And that isn't a matter of techinical excellence, software availability or anything competition can address. It all about illegal monopolistic action. Microsoft signs consent decree after consent decree and over a decade after their first one you still can't buy a desktop PC without Windows proloaded except for a couple of bland Dell N series machines that are usually priced higher than the same machine preloaded with Windows.

The netbook revolution almost opened up the market but Microsoft just dumped XP into the hole until they could convince the manufactures to kill em off in favor of small notebooks running Win7. Go ahead, try to find a small flash drive based cheap netbook. All you find is three pounders with hard drives, crappy battery life and screens just a smidge smaller than a small notebook... and all running WIndows.

re being competetive with windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169742)

A few years ago being competitive with windows was the challenge. Things have changed. Linux has found it's niche (servers, virtualization, embedded devices, cellphones, etc).
The linux desktop could be a big part of the linux in the future however, with OSX is more like linux than windows. I regularly use OSX and linux desktops and rarely use Windows desktops.
OSX may be a bigger desktop challenge to linux than windows. They are actually very comparable at this time. Linux just doesn't have the support of a hardware vender like Apple.

Why does it have to be Linux? (1)

Jartan (219704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169744)

I think it's a mistake to pigeon hole Linux specifically for this type of question. A more pertinent question should be more about having an open source operating system alternative to Windows. There's no reason to use generic Linux for that specifically. There is definitely a reason to replace Windows with open source though.

Software install and update needs more work (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169788)

There are have been a lot of improvements in getting Linux working on the desktop including setup, and the update manager.

For wider adoption on the desktop, the assumption that the person installing Linux or installing software on Linux knows anything about Linux has to go away. Support online still resembles 'pwning noobs'.

Linux doesn't have the advantage of being pre-installed on most PCs.

It has to be very easy for someone who knows nothing about computers to migrate from Windows to Linux.

For someone running Windows, there should be an application for migrating to Linux that operates like 'Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor' with the addition of locating an ISO for a distribution that includes all the drivers needed for your hardware.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169832)

I completely disagree.. and it sounds more like a fanboi rationale than truly being common sense. Anybody that moves from one OS to another and doesn't compare them.. And instead resorts to illogical things like "just wanting to go to another OS no matter the coat or if it meets your needs"... You get the point.

If Linux can't be compared... If it isn't providing a superior experience, then absolutely do not us it (and the majority of the market agrees). Comparing the state of Linux on the desktop to Android in the cell market sounds good at first... Except that Android can compete and provide an increase in value to the average consumer. People aren't choosing Android hopefully because they would choose anything to get away from iOS / Apple. Hopefully it has something to do with Android being a decent product.

Linux vs Windows (2, Interesting)

jkeelsnc (1102563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169844)

Very interesting discussion. For a time I used Ubuntu 10.04 and finally I think there is a version for the average person. However, there is a problem. Myself and a bunch of other people have quite a bit of money and time sunk into windows programs. I've heard all the arguments and have used openoffice myself. It is pretty good! But it doesn't have absolutely 100% compatability with office and I don't have time to play around with that unless it works right with word, excel, etc formats perfectly every single time without a hitch. That is not a realistic expectation though. Basically, until there is an easy way to run all windows programs (or nearly all of them) under linux without a lot of hassle and configuration and to where it is a one or two click install people are not going to bother with it. We can kid ourselves all night and all day for the next 20 years that people should be using linux. But if they already have windows on the computer they bought and linux won't run the software they've already invested 100's in then I don't see it happening. I know there is crossover office which is pretty good but that is not a solution for 99%+ software compatability. WINE is impressive but is even more difficult to get working with some programs. No one has the time or the energy to D*^& around with it and then still not have it work like they need to. Add to this the fact that Win 7 is now pretty good even good and there is not much motivation to change. I like Ubuntu 10.04. It is easy to use, well designed (as a consumer grade OS), easy to install programs and many comparable programs to windows. The quality of the software is pretty good. But its gotta run windows programs. Plenty of people will be offended by that. Even with compatability it would be no guarantee. Even history shows that from the OS/2 experience in the early 90's. There was a very nice OS that ran most dos and windows programs seamlessly (or nearly) but then IBM released subsequent buggy versions of the OS in a hurry and M$ stomped them with win 95 and imcompatible Win32 libraries and API's later. So, there even with compatability there is not a guarantee that people will switch. But nearly full compatability would be a huge step toward attracting more users (myself included). I am saying this from observation, from experience, and the resistance to change which is part of human nature (for most people). Windows is not perfect but Win 7 has improved stability, security, and usability to a high level (relative to all other previous versions of windows). So it makes it even harder to convince people to switch. And people are afraid of change.

Linux is not a Windows replacement (4, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169856)

Why do people keep thinking that Linux a a cheap, or free or open or whatever replacement of Windows. It isn't.
And you can't copy Windows. That would mean that you have to wait till Windows does something.
http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm [oneandoneis2.org]

Linux should go its own way and if that takes down Windows, it is a nice plus. Competing with Windows should not be a direction, bceause that will be a fight that you can only loose.

Re:Linux is not a Windows replacement (2, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170026)

It competes with Windows. It replaced Windows for me, and for everyone in my family who wants computer "advice" from me. Whenever Linux does something really bad it's Windows I consider shifting to - then reconsider when I try Windows again. It's the only alternative to Windows in any business I've ever worked with or for (and that's a lot, all serious businesses, usually Fortune 500 or their ilk).

I agree that Linux should "go its own way". Linux has the zeitgeist, the momentum, the developers, the real world diversity of problems it must be used to solve. Meeting that demand makes Linux the more viable OS, while Windows is stuck doing what Windows has done for 20 years. Linux is actually adapting to the real growth sector, mobile and embedded, in ways Windows never could, like the Android variant. Mobile/embedded is not subject yet to the anticompetitive advantages that have kept the desktop captive to Windows, because actual performance and reliability is still necessary. So by going its own way, and by mutating (eg. Android) while remaining essentially Linux, Linux will leave Windows behind. Because the people who define the new world take it there, and don't take Windows.

That is competition. That it's not how Windows has competed to the top doesn't mean it's not competition. Since Windows' way was so anticompetitive, it means it's finally a competition again.

It's this simple: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34169924)

Ubuntu and our community are going to displace Windows, because that's why we're here at all, and what the rest of "Linux" does is their business. Android and Ubuntu market share compared to the market share of all other linux based desktop and mobile operating systems really reveals a lot about where the market is for today's kernel of choice.

Huh? (0)

junglebeast (1497399) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169952)

I'm really not sure what the point of this article is, and I apologize up front if someone is offended by what I am going to say, but it is not my intention to troll here. I'm just saying it how I honestly see it. It seems that the author is proud of himself for finally reaching inner peace with his Linux usage and is looking to show off or find affirmation in others. If you read between the lines, this is really what the author is saying:

"I switched to Linux for no particular reason other than disliking corporate giants like Microsoft. I enjoy using my problem solving skills to overcome basic user interface navigation problems, and I use my wallet to make unheard statements about my distaste for corporate giants like Microsoft by pigeonholing myself into only using specific product brands. Linux really is not so bad, you just have to stop asking yourself how to "make things work" or "be productive"...and instead ask yourself, "are you geek enough to accomplish trivial tasks in a reasonable amount of time?"

It beats me why anybody would even consider using Linux as their primary or sole desktop operating system. Don't get me wrong, Linux has it's place...it's a great cheap alternative for lab computers or servers or academic tinkering, and I hope that people continue to use it as a desktop environment simply because it gives a slight competitive pressure to all other operating systems....but seriously, who wants to be the martyr and take a stand by sacrificing their productivity to deal with an operating system that cannot natively run 99% of software products, has compatibility issues, and bugs up the wazoo due to being a mish-mash of spaghetti code written by unorganized contributors? I just don't get it.

Am I missing a "whoosh" somewhere? (2, Insightful)

Tim the Gecko (745081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169964)

When I got as far as "forcing users to go without a valuable learning experience" I began to wonder if this article is some kind of elaborate joke played on its readers.

It's hard to be more patronizing than the "Joe Sixpack", "Grandmom" or "Sh*eple" crap that pops up here, but the guy seems to be aiming to limbo under that very low bar.

yes and no ? (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169976)

Yes, since they're competing on a number of platform (desktops, servers, and in different guises mobile and embedded), so linux should definitely aim at windows.

No, since linux is competing against a bunch of other OSes/environments (iOS, QNX, even BSD, Solaris...); and also since linux should not simply play catchup/imitate, but also innovate.

Mustard. (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34169990)

I have mustard in my refrigerator. Is it competing with mayonnaise? Does it matter to mustard that ketchup is dominating?

Only Phones Matter (3, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170000)

Desktops are stuck in a "desktop" paradigm, and so are going to be whatever they are now until they totally disappear sometime decades from now: Windows for most everyone, Macs for some specialties particularly in audiovisual production, and Linux for the very few in either the narrowest range of specialties or the narrowest band of all: those who use the best tool for the job at hand, regardless of what everyone else is using.

But the desktop is disappearing. "Mobile" computing is computing you don't have to notice computing. Especially as input leaves behind keyboards, as all displays are networked and shareable, the GUI will detach from the hardware, to be put anywhere the users want it to be, including merged together. More and more people will do what they do helped by "computers", but they won't be Windows. They'll be Android, or some other Linux variant. Because Windows is like a desktop, and most work is better done without a desktop.

It won't be Linux, either. Linux will have a place in the majority of servers, and there'll be a lot of them. But the "Internet of Things" needs something smaller than Windows, smaller than Linux. It's why even the Mac ditched the old MacOS and is now closely related to Linux, in that it's mostly a (mostly) open Unix variant.

Android is closing in on a majority of smartphones. Around the time it's the majority, all phones that do more than just talk will be smartphones. It's the software and uses of smartphones, and their closely related tablets, that will be what most humans use "computers" for most of the time. Everyone in a developed economy will have their mobile device that's their key to accessing all the people, things and info in their world. Windows will be stuck on desktops, where the first small segment of humans started using them. The rest of the world, most of it, will be using the descendants of Android in ways that Windows can never approximate.

Linux Is Choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170014)

Linux provides what all others should provide but do not: choice.

A distribution can dress Linux to be just like MS Windows. That's fine, and this is the choice of many users.

For me, Linux gives me the choice of staying close to the machine and being in total control (I use Gentoo). This is my choice and I am very grateful to have it.

As long as this choice remains, there will be no problems.

Ubuntu is just fine . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34170032)

I've been an OS X guy since 2002, but if I couldn't have a Mac I'd be fine with Ubuntu (running it on a netbook and have set it up for others). Really it brings the same things to the table OS X did: simple interface when needed, but ability to get under the hood and use traditional UNIX command line tools as well.

Comparing it to Linspire just because they both use 'stores' -- which in Ubuntu is just a package manager with both open source and commercial/non-free stuff that lets people do things like play DVDs or use their wireless card isn't a bad thing. Linspire failed because it was presented as something it wasn't and could never be: a free version of Windows with binary compatibility. Ubuntu has dropped the just copy Windows and OS X paradigm to some extent; at the very least it's borrowing elements from multiple sources not just Windows.

Android, etc (1)

jkeelsnc (1102563) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170086)

Valid points were made about mobile computing. It seems to me that mobile devices are the future. For that matter, I can imagine having a computer and interface system built into a set of sunglasses or eyeglasses to where its hard to even tell they are there. That is a little way off from now. However, I can definitely see an android device in the near future that has a built in projector for video display and then another laser projection device to project a virtual keyboard and mousing/pointing/trackpad virtual device. Add on top of this the possibility of cloud services like Google Apps (which really is not yet developed anywhere to its full potential yet) and you can see that Windows 7, mac os, or whatever desktop OS will not matter (as much). Of course, they will still be around especially in school labs and in offices. But the mobile device will be king especially with a built in projector, virtual keyboard device and virtual pointing or motion based system. It will not be long before mobile devices have the computing power of a laptop (but not a good desktop). That will be enough for most people I suspect. :)

It's not windows and it's not competition (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170126)

The world outside of linux and unix a long time ago came to an understanding about the way the desktop should work. The majority of desktops are either windows or mac based. A Mac and PC user could switch computers and withing a few minutes either person could get done what they were intending to get done. Not so with Linux. You can argue all day long that Linux is better on every front... but it doesn't matter. It's unfamiliar to the majority of the public. It's like one of those screwed up chairs that chiropractors invented, no matter how comfortable it is, or how much it helps your back, the things just fucking retarded. We need one of the main distro's to just give it up, clone the windows or Mac UI, hide all the linux weirdness until you entered the root password a couple of different times and then maybe people will start to come over.

Needs of the target user (2, Interesting)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170128)

I've been using computers since the C64 as a kid. I'm geeky enough to use Slashdot. I've used Linux on and off since Slackware 7"ish" (w/ all the version # skipping). Dabbled with some CS classes. I've used MS Dos . through all versions of Windows and used OS X for 4 years. .... So I think I at least have some geek credentials to post this.

I mostly stopped playing games so I don't have much use for Windows. I've preferred to use OS X but didn't want to keep my Mac. OS X is genius it really "just" works. And I've spent far less time troubleshooting and resolving issues than I ever have with Windows or Linux. I've been trying REALLY hard to move over to a PC-based 'Nix based OS for a few years now but I'm finding it a bit hard.

I think I'm of the age, have the computer knowledge necessary and have the desire enough to switch that I'm a likely target user. You need some (somewhat)geeky people (like me :) ) for now to more readily adopt 'Nixes. Depending on what you do, Granny is probably ok to check e-mail with some KDE or Gnome based distro. I'm also finding it easier to automate and simplify some daily tasks with the command line (I use a lot of the reg-ex tools Sed, AWK and dabbling with Perl and Python - nothing fancy though. The Windows scripting and command line tools is an utterly and confusing mess, I won't touch it with a 10-foot pole. This *alone* has me as an easy convert.

Here's my beefs over the years which has prevented me from switching. I note over the years as I've not tried recently to install Slackware, Ubuntu, SUSE or FreeBSD (yes, I've tried a few) or such that it might be fixed now. Some of this might not be technically accurate. So at least, try to understand that this is a general overview. I'm not asking how to fix it, but rather these are probably some of the problems people have.

1) Drivers. Some things just don't work right out of the box. I haven't tried X.org in last year-or-so, but my ATI card has been a major PITA to get working. I've seen (too) many postings on "How do I get my trackpad working" or get this working. Recompiling the kernel is somewhat challenging if you have to get to that level. Choosing the wrong option or ommitting something can FOOBAR the kernel and you have to Google till you get it right. Every kernel is a walking target.

At times, never the same result or problem from 2.4.15 to 2.4.16. That what was working on .15 for example might not work on .16 with the same options selected.

2) Too many choices of distros. I fully agree choice tends to be a good thing. But the init scripts, directory structure, system management tools (SUSE, RH, Ubuntu) all different. On top of that, each app tends to work out of the box for only a few specific distros. If you want it to work with yours, you have to wait till someone puts it in the package manager. This is where Windows and OS X have a definite advantage.

3) When X crashes or there's some problem with the xinitrc or adding an extra mouse button or adding pretty font support, its meant spending some time reading about how to install it. OS X kinda self repairs itself, and with Windows all else fails reinstall it. If there's a problem with X to begin with, reinstalling just means the same thing will be there after you reinstall. There's been more then a few times when I've just said "Screw that" and went back to using Windows.

4) There's a bit too much Windows-like emulation with the apps in KDE, GNOME and such. Apple tends to think well .... this is ok but we should do this, this and this different. If some of the apps are 'cool' and do things just Neat enough it might entice people to think, Linux is cool, i should check this out.

5) Partitioning / File management / permissions difficult. This has gotten better I think over the years with the file managers with KDE, GNOME, Xfce and such. I just find when you do ls -la on / that you get a confusing directory structure. /home /etc /use /lib ....... with Windows its just C:\Windows c:\Program Files by default. Want some extra folders in C:\ ? ... D:\? sure go ahead add as many as you want! I don't know if there's a better way to obscure this. But I think some users might not want to put everything under /home. And then, the big question always was ..... what if I add an extra drive. With Windows and OS X with Disk Util .... this makes it easy. Any of the 'Nixes not so clear.

6) Multimedia. Music (Linux audio was a complete mess for a while and was seemingly impossible to get working on some distros and over several kernel versions as I recall. But mostly, the apps available are 'pretty' which counts for something with multimedia. iTunes, Windows media player, Quicktime, iPhoto, etc are just some examples.

I doubt I will go back to using Apple hardware again, for various reason, which would otherwise make using 'Nix supereasy.

I'll just add, if I do manage to switch over completely, I will become an advocate / help out .. documentation, bug reporting and such. This isn't a bait and hook thing. I think if more people like myself find it *easier* to use 'Nix, it should make increasing the market share much easier. Hey, I helped do this with Windows and OS X.

If Apple can do it, so can Linux (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170148)

I'm no Apple fan, but the Linux crowd could learn something from ol' Jobs.

I'm no programmer, but I've been using computers for better of 30 years. I learned BASIC in 1983. I know my way around a command prompt and a registry. Hell, I can even write some simple C++ code. Nevertheless, I've tried Linux (Ubuntu) a few times and found it wanting. One of my first chores was to find software to play video. I tried a couple and they just didn't work correctly. Firefox couldn't import my bookmarks. Set my own wallpaper? Forget it. That was enough for me.

Granted, I could go to Fry's and buy a 500-page Linux manual and learn it. I've got no problem with that and in fact, when the day comes that I've got a spare box with which I can use to experiment, I might give it another shot just to see what it can do. But today, I don't have the time to learn how to use a computer all over again.

The fact of the matter remains, if it's gonna be difficult for a seasoned user, I can't imagine an average Windows user wanting anything to do with it. but I HAVE seen Windows users migrate to a Mac quite effortlessly.

What's it going to take to make a real desktop for the masses? A venture CAPITALIST taking up the challenge. Build an OS that's both powerful enough for geeks to exploit and easy enough for my grandmother to figure out. Distro developers are only thinking about what THEY want to see and do and they forget about the little guy who's just learning how to use a mouse. It's not because the developer is evil, he just has no incentive to write the code to accommodate the average Joe because his audience is NOT the average Joe. It's another geek who read the 500-page book. There's got to be a profit motive. If you want to appeal to the masses, you have to MARKET to them. The only reason Apple is still in business is because they know how to market a product and they build their products very well, with pleasing the end-user their the top priority.

Goodbye to the circus (1)

katz (36161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34170166)

It's been a hell of a ride these past fifteen years filled with lots
of happy memories, but I'm tired of apologizing for its weaknesses
and am simplifying my life by switching to Windows.


Dear Desktop Linux:

For some time now I have lamented the fact that I cannot do things
under Linux which /everyone/ else can easily do under Windows. I
can't be bothered messing with driver stacks just so that I can
kill some time waching Youtube.

Yet another year has come and gone with perennial updates which
ostensibly should fix your fifteen thousand papercuts, but don't. So,
Until the situation on the ground changes for desktop users, adios!!!

- Roey

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