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Old Arguments May Cost Linux the Desktop

CmdrTaco posted about 3 years ago | from the water-under-the-bridge dept.

Cloud 591

itwbennett writes "The old Linux arguments that pit one tool against another — Evolution vs. Thunderbird, LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice, and GNOME3 vs. Unity vs. KDE vs. everything else — may cost Linux its shot at the desktop, opines blogger Brian Proffitt. 'We can compare LibreOffice to to Office till the cows come home,' says Proffitt. 'But what happens when Google Docs gets truly robust enough for business and high-end document production? Or Prezi gets enough mindshare to start an upwards trajectory of user numbers?' It should be the case that increasing reliance on cloud software will make it easier for businesses to choose Linux, but for that to happen, Linux communities need to stop fighting the old fights, says Proffitt."

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The op is a... The author is an idiot (1, Troll)

Alex Belits (437) | about 3 years ago | (#37045004)


Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (0)

Abreu (173023) | about 3 years ago | (#37045082)

Also: The old "Fragmentation will doom Linux, like it doomed Unix" argument??

Really, Slashdot editors?

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045258)

Also: The old "Fragmentation will doom Linux, like it doomed Unix" argument??

You're claiming that fragmentation didn't doom Unix?

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 3 years ago | (#37045328)

You call it "fragmentation". I call it "choice". Now if linux would go back to innovating and stop (badly) copying OS X and Windows I'd be a lot happier, but still.

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045428)

Nope, Linux did that.

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#37045370)

TFA doesn't claim Linus is doomed, it simply claims the opportunity to gain significant traction on the desktop is being lost to fragmentation.

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (2)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#37045396)

Crap. Linux, not Linus. Typing to type while eating lunch. Why oh why can't we have a fucking edit button.

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 3 years ago | (#37045156)

In other news this week:

Call Of Duty vs Battlefield - who could possibly choose? Certainly nobody could ever like both!
Brown bread vs white - when will the madness end?
Blondes vs brunettes vs redheads - the human race is falling apart!
Peanut butter vs jelly - the only choice at breakfast time is to cry :'(
Coffee vs tea - the hot beverage industry will implode if we don't just CHOOSE ONE gods-damn-it!

Network effects (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045364)

Apart from Call of Duty vs. Battlefield, the examples you give don't have built-in network effects that make a product more useful when everybody else is using the same product. When everybody is using the same operating system, everybody can run the same applications. Or is everybody already running the same operating system of HTML + CSS + JavaScript + CACHE MANIFEST + localStorage?

Re:Network effects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045504)

Derp. If they're all running Chrome, what's the diff.

The OS is increasingly irrelevant, so free (as in cost, nobody gives a shit about the other sort) finally matters. Which is the only reason Linux might show up on a few corporate desktops now.

Wasn't aware there was a goal (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045172)

1. This article blindly assumes that "linux on everybody's desktop" is a goal. It may be for some people, but if I had to put money on it, I'd say that 95% of linux users don't really give a damn. Linux will always be useful for them, irrespective of whether grandma can buy a desktop with linux pre-installed.

2. Linux already IS on the desktop for millions of people. It's been on my desktop for 14 years. It may not be on grandma's desktop, but again, why would I care? I use linux because it's the best tool for what I do (and also the most fun and interesting for me) not because I'm on some kind of world-domination crusade.

Nobody asked this guy to speak for them, myself included. So I kindly suggest that he piss off.

Economies of scale (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045256)

It may not be on grandma's desktop, but again, why would I care?

Developers of specialized software lack the resources to support every platform. They choose which platforms to support based on which could make the most money for them. And right now, Windows and Mac OS X have much clearer economies of scale than GNU/Linux. So if GNU/Linux isn't widespread, it won't draw a large selection of specialized software, especially in those markets that free software has historically had trouble serving [] .

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37045278)

I think part of the issue/annoyance is that the most vocal crowd tends to be the face of a group. In this case, the crowd is the "You are doing [X] with your computer and not using Linux? What's wrong with you, obviously Linux is the best choice for [X]!"

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (2)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#37045332)


Linophiles pining after the fabled "Year of Linux on the Desktop" are missing the point by 10 years. The desktop is over. The future in the consumer computing space lies in Android/iOS types of applications.

In a decade people won't have bulky desktops taking up space in their house, they'll either be using sleek and instant-fast tablets, or portable devices that they take everywhere with them, plugging up to home entertainment centers if needed, but mostly being mobile.

It's a silly argument. Linux failed in the consumer desktop space. The battle is over and it doesn't matter anymore.

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 3 years ago | (#37045358)

Ooh, I didn't even notice the slashdot meme, "It's been on MY desktop since..."

mod +1 - qualifying cliche usage

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 years ago | (#37045452)

I wish Linux (or some open unix-like system) were popular. I prefer the Unix way to the MS way, but because of the MS monopoly you can't get any good commercial software for anything except Windows, and sometimes Mac. Right now the only way to get unix and a decent proprietary software selection is to run Mac, but the hardware is very limited and the Franken-Mac thing is too much work and not a sure thing.

I have a Mac laptop and a Windows desktop (and a Mac server and FreeBSD server in the basement), but I'd drop both if I could get MS Office, Photoshop, iTunes, etc, on a Linux/FreeBSD/whatever box. I'm hoping that the recent Mac resurgence breaks the Win monopoly. That would open the door to other competition. I bet Linux or some other open kernel could be as popular on the desktop as it is on cell phones.

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (2)

couchslug (175151) | about 3 years ago | (#37045500)

The article is simply designed to get page hits. That is all.

Re:Wasn't aware there was a goal (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 3 years ago | (#37045506)

1. This article blindly assumes that "linux on everybody's desktop" is a goal. It may be for some people, but if I had to put money on it, I'd say that 95% of linux users don't really give a damn. Linux will always be useful for them, irrespective of whether grandma can buy a desktop with linux pre-installed.

The thing is that she can, but I sincerely hope that she won't.
Not only because a 112 year old zombie would scare the crap out of the poor store clerk, but because I would have to support it. I don't want to support a system I had no hands in setting up, and no control of the software that goes on it.

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

piripiri (1476949) | about 3 years ago | (#37045222)

1. Write an article about Linux
2. ???
3. Proffitt !!!

Re:The op is a... The author is an idiot (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045246)

I like how there is no mention of how the whole Firefox/IE argument has kill Microsoft on the desktop.....

Old? (4, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | about 3 years ago | (#37045018)

Is LibreOffice vs. OpenOffice an old argument? It's hardly a year old...

Re:Old? (1)

obergfellja (947995) | about 3 years ago | (#37045054)

it still falls within the "argument" and arguing over which is better is an old concept. Six in one hand, half a dozen in another, so, meh.

Re:Old? (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 3 years ago | (#37045132)

Regardless, how does arguing which is better in the presence of of online alternatives cost Linux the desktop? Google Docs and Prezi both work fine whether the user is running Linux or Windows or BDS or OSX, or has LibreOffice installed or not or whatever else. The premise here seems flawed.

Might cost Linux the laptop (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045168)

how does arguing which is better in the presence of of online alternatives cost Linux the desktop?

It might not cost Linux the desktop, but it might cost Linux the laptop. Mobile broadband to use Google Docs or Prezi while riding a bus is still priced as a luxury service.

Re:Old? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37045376)

Yes, but look at all the distributions of linux, each with their advocates. In many cases, there isn't one clearly advocated piece of software for the solution, except, maybe OpenOffice (now with LibraOffice, that may no longer be the case), and Firefox.

Users don't want to have to make that decision. It's what do I use at work, what is being recommended by a large majority? In Linux, not much.

It's a great setup for the the mobile device, where there isn't much of a comfortable choke-hold, and where Linux has been embraced by only one huge vendor, but outside of that, there are other, more "comfortable" options for the general user.

Linux is good to great for the server, good for the power user, and not so good for the desktop/notebook user.

Re:Old? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37045070)

I think he means it's a continuation of the same fight seen often enough before.

I'd rather agree. Competition is good, but too much can hurt things. A bit more cooperation would not be bad.

freedom to choose (2)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 3 years ago | (#37045024) more important than monoculture, in my humble opinion.

If only 1 percent of computer users use Linux, then I will argue they are the Top 1 percent ;)

Re:freedom to choose (3, Insightful)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37045152)

Is there anywhere in the OSS community where cutting the number of options in half would produce a monoculture?

Admittedly there is only one Linux kernel, heavily modified, but you could add the BSD Kernels and Hurd to make up for that.

With desktop environments, a dime a dozen would be highway robbery.

There are a few that stand out in any of the areas, but in general, a bit more cooperation probably would help more than hinder. Getting rid of the ideological and dick-waving flame wars of who's project is the best solution for a given problem, and seeing (and in some cases, combining) the strengths of the competition (or even, in some cases, merging products) moreso than is done now, would probably help.

Some of the issues is that there are too many choices, which most users don't want. They want what works, and on average case, does best, not three tools that do about the same thing, but only handle a small part of that "thing" the best.

Re:freedom to choose (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045200)

Some of the issues is that there are too many choices, which most users don't want. They want what works, and on average case, does best, not three tools that do about the same thing, but only handle a small part of that "thing" the best.

No they don't, they want whatever the next TV commercial tells them to want. Too many choices, is like too much money. It is a problem we should all be so lucky to have.

"May cost"?? (5, Insightful)

tigersha (151319) | about 3 years ago | (#37045030)

Linux does not have a shot at the desktop and never will. That is some /. nerd fantasy.

Re:"May cost"?? (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#37045154)

Linux does not have a shot at the desktop and never will. That is some /. nerd fantasy.

I think it had a shot years ago. And missed.

Re:"May cost"?? (1)

obergfellja (947995) | about 3 years ago | (#37045166)

would be nice, but it is not going to happen, like Java running a whole house. It is a pipe dream which will never be.

On the other hand, I can see Linux, in the kernel sense running more than just phones. I know a few linux nerds are squirming over that and want to Down Mod my comment for that, but lets face it, Yes, Linux (as we know it on Desktops) has certain standards, and the Android (with linux kernel) is technically the more successful cousin of the Desktop, so to speak, and we need to focus on how we can spread the concept of Linux (as a kernel) to all devices. The "Desktop Linux" is like Communism (on paper), Great idea, but won't take off to the full extent we would like without people looking down on it as an inferior product of our work in terms of desktop (by the populous).

In short, lets take the Java dream in running everything with one tool and use that dream for Linux. (kernel based).

what's this "desktop" you speak of English? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 years ago | (#37045180)

more like the year of linux in your pants!
errr.... pocket.... yeah, that's what I meant...

Re:"May cost"?? (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045240)

So then my desktop does not exist?

One desktop does not a market make (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045420)

So then my desktop does not exist?

In the sense of the return on investment of a commercial off-the-shelf software developer, your desktop probably doesn't exist enough to be profitable by itself.

Re:One desktop does not a market make (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045478)

Which is not what the question was at all. I don't care.

On top of that as indie game studios now often support linux, I am not sure you are correct.

Re:"May cost"?? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 3 years ago | (#37045464)

making an idiotic comment, ignoring the obvious meaning of the statement, does not make you look clever or bright. It does quite the opposite of that, in fact.

Re:"May cost"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045486)

Well i'd reply but as I just discovered that i have no desktops either at home and a couple bogged down forgotten boxes at work. As a rightful owner of four windows licenses I could have left at least one on a hd...
On a second thought... no.

Re:"May cost"?? (2, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | about 3 years ago | (#37045346)

I keep hearing this. Oddly enough, back when Linux had 1% of the desktop market, its continued to grow on desktops.

People seem extremely confused about what this all means. Will Linux every have 80% of the desktop market? Not likely. Is the current desktop count under reported? Extremely likely. Realistically, the year of the Linux desktop arrived years ago. As you said, 80% is some /. nerd, idiot, fantasy. Just the same, Linux likely has something between 5%-8% of the desktop market. And frankly, even 1% means the Linux desktop has arrived.

With the idiocy which claims the Linux desktop hasn't arrived means OSX hasn't arrived either. That's dumb and by all reasonable accounts, completely untrue.

Realistically, the lie is that the Linux desktop is a lie.

Re:"May cost"?? (1)

Gedvondur (40666) | about 3 years ago | (#37045348)

I would agree.

Useability issues, hostile support community and general lack of hardware support (desktop) all contribute to Linux being an unpopular desktop.

Really, support is the kicker, not acquisition cost. The industry has been turning PC support folks into the equivalent of data janitors for years now, both in prestige and pay. If you are dedicated enough to get *good* at supporting Linux, you are going to get a much-better paying admin job, not keep on schlepping desktops for minimal cash. Supporting Linux desktops creates more costs than it saves in Windows licenses in both ongoing issues (doing business with MS-Office using partners, etc) and cost of support personnel.

The Windows world churns out people good enough to do desktop support constantly. They are easier to find and will accept a smaller compensation package. Some of them are even lifers at desktop support, not good enough for data center admin jobs.

It's too bad really. I would have liked to see a good Linux desktop. For myself, I've always ended up removing any Linux desktops I've installed. I want to do things, not mess with the OS, which is what I end up doing every damn time. Thus, Windows and OSX for me.

Re:"May cost"?? (2, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | about 3 years ago | (#37045458)

hostile support community

That's a new one.

and general lack of hardware support (desktop)

That's just simply not true. Linux has superior hardware support than does Vista and Win 7.

Re:"May cost"?? (4, Insightful)

datajerk (63203) | about 3 years ago | (#37045416)

Linux does not have a shot at the desktop and never will.

Define desktop. If it is the principle UI that you use to communicate with the Internet and run applications, then...

There are 7 billion people. ~2 billion PCs and ~5 billion phones worldwide. The growth UI will be in phones and other low cost devices. *That*, is the new desktop and it will be Linux-based.

My TiVo and my Blu-ray player run Linux. That could be considered a media desktop. Or media UI. For some, sadly, TV is their principle app.

Linux has won the desktop OS wars. It's just that nobody knows it yet.

As for desktop UI apps, the future is HTML5.

Re:"May cost"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045436)

I think this is true now, but I don't think it was 3-4 years ago.
I remember in 2007 installing distributions on my netbook and being very impressed at having a good selection of robust and well featured software 'out of the box'. Everything was working. A bit more spit and polish, a few more features and it would have been a system anyone could use and be proud of.

And then it all seemed to go wrong. I don't know what happened, but around the time KDE4 came out everyone (well, the main distros at least) seemed to focus on rewriting everything, replacing known good apps with new, less feature packed versions.

Now I install a distro and I'm not in the least impressed. The variety of applications installed is lower, the selected applications offer far less functionality than they did in the past, except now I have lots of shiny Apple style buttons and bullshit desktop cloud semantics.

I know I could go into the repos and install different applications, but that's kind of missing the point. And they're often barely changed as development resources have been lost elsewhere.

In short, I'm pretty disappointed with the state of Linux desktop at the moment and to me it seems to have gone more backwards than forwards over the last few years.

Re:"May cost"?? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 years ago | (#37045482)

Well thanks for telling me that. I wonder what it is I am using here then? Must be my imagination running on this computer.

Yeah, that's it. I must be dreaming then, because GNU/Linux on a PC at home has no shot and is a fantasy.

Doubt It (0)

registrationssucks (2352628) | about 3 years ago | (#37045032)

Our current and sole problem - the show stopper - is not running SAP's Business One. This vs that is an entertaining sideshow that few outside the tech community are aware of.

whatever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045064)

Diversity is what makes Linux so great. It's a good thing... not a bad thing. Everyone has their preference, and if there's something you don't like, then good because there's 10 other options out there.

Re:whatever (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 3 years ago | (#37045112)

Unless you are a developer.

Re:whatever (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045288)

Why is that an issue? Does all this linux software not come from developers?

Re:whatever (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045488)

One can support all mainstream versions of desktop Windows with one binary. How easy is it to support all popular distributions of desktop Linux with one binary? Can you recommend a HOWTO for building a binary that will run correctly on Fedora, Ubuntu, SuSE, and everywhere else? (I'd use Google, but Google often turns up years-outdated guides, poor practice that isn't marked as such, and forum questions that have gone years without an answer.)

Umm, what? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 years ago | (#37045072)

So, let me get this straight: "Linux On the Desktop" is doomed because, when 'cloud applications' come into the fore, there will still be nerds with strong opinions about native applications?

Isn't that exactly backward?

If "The Cloud" rises up and devours natives software, nobody will give a fuck about any application on the Linux desktop, except for the browser(the state of which is fine) and none of the suits will care about the raging emacs/vi crusades, so long as they can get their almost-thin-clients booted into gmail as cheaply as possible...

The hypothetical rise of in-browser stuff renders battles about the relative value of assorted linux-native applications irrelevant, that's sort of the whole point.

Re:Umm, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045226)

EMACS.. get it right. No crusade here.

*trolling trolling trolling.. keep them messages rolling*

Re:Umm, what? (2)

tverbeek (457094) | about 3 years ago | (#37045244)

When the Cloud takes over, Linux will "win" the desktop because the desktop won't matter, and Linux will be the cheapest one.

Which will be a bit like "winning" a war in which the territory conquered turns out to be a worthless expanse of sand (and no oil).

Re:Umm, what? (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 3 years ago | (#37045262)

If "The Cloud" rises up and devours natives software, nobody will give a fuck about any application on the Linux desktop, except for the browser(the state of which is fine) and none of the suits will care about the raging emacs/vi crusades, so long as they can get their almost-thin-clients booted into gmail as cheaply as possible...

Considering that Windows can't really be stripped down to bare essentials, atleast not yet, and used just as a thin-client but Linux can be stripped down to fit in under 200 megabytes, INCLUDING browser... well, I'd say that actually makes it darn interesting for someone solely focused on "cloud" software.

Re:Umm, what? (1)

PantherX (23953) | about 3 years ago | (#37045272)

I think the point is that the downfall of Office will be the downfall of all of this software. You pick your battles. If you pick the battle of Libre vs. Star vs. Open you've picked the wrong battle (Linux vs GNU/Linux anyone?).

No point (3, Insightful)

nyctopterus (717502) | about 3 years ago | (#37045086)

Once people shift to using cloud-based software, the very reason for people to use Linux on the desktop (software freedom) is lost in any case. It will be a case of getting past the post after the race is over.

Re:No point (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37045196)

Once people shift to using cloud-based software, the very reason for people to use Linux on the desktop (software freedom) is lost in any case.

Cloud-based software might take over the desktop, but I've described in another post [] why it won't take over the laptop as quickly.

Re:No point (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 3 years ago | (#37045234)

Once people shift to using cloud-based software, the very reason for people to use Linux on the desktop (software freedom) is lost in any case. It will be a case of getting past the post after the race is over.

While that may be a reason why *some* people use Linux, those users won't suddenly stop using Linux because LibreOffice and Openoffice are fighting. For companies, however, its issues like cost, manageability, security that are important. Companies don't care how free and open LibreOffice is compared to Openoffice, they just know that users want MS Office.

Let companies ditch MS Office for online alternatives, and suddenly companies won't find MS Windows on the desktop so neccessary. And along with it goes a large and expensive MS infrastructure (Active Directory, Exchange, windows file servers, and a whole host of other MS applications that companies run because they already have a Windows infrastructure so they may as well stay on Windows).

So I say -- bring on the cloud! I don't care about the desktop applications, let me give user's a thin workstation that runs only a web browser to get to all of their applications.

Re:No point (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | about 3 years ago | (#37045300)

Software freedom may be the reason you use Linux. It isn't my reason.

Re:No point (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 3 years ago | (#37045510)

I disagree. What keeps people using Windows is applications. There always seems to be that one app that there is no good FOSS replacement for. In the enterprise space it will be some mission critical app written in VB or a web app that requires IE6.
Once those have been migrated to the cloud then you are free to move to a different OS and this is already happening. A lot of people are moving to the Mac because they can do everything they need to do on a Mac. In large part that is because so much of what we do is now on the Web.
With Linux you still have an iffy UI situation and the driver and hardware problem. I know that if I get a web cam, printer, scanner, or what ever device I want at the store and it says "Works with Windows and Mac" that it will work with windows an Mac.
Even if a webcam company writes a FOSS driver they can not easily make that promise because they can not package a binary driver with their device and be sure that it will work! Even if they submit it to the Kernnel they have to wait for it to be put in, for the distros to package it, and then if they want to fix it they have to hope that the patch they put in gets to the distros!
The lack of a stable binary device driver interface makes Linux more trouble than it is worth for a lot of companies
So people will us what comes on their computers. But then remember every Android and WebOS users is a Linux user.

Software competition is actually good for you (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 3 years ago | (#37045102)

When software models compete against each other, new features are created, if there was no competition in the Linux world, progress would come to a halt. Oh, and... cloud computing will never be used for anything serious. Trying going to bed with a picture of your SSN in the cloud and what that means for your bank account next breach, night OP.

you would be surprised t what and who (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 3 years ago | (#37045292)

is putting important info into the cloud. I was recently with a document management company and we started cloud based solutions a few months before I left. We had large companies small companies, banks, schools all going cloud... it scares me to be perfectly honest

Prezi FTW (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#37045118)

Only because it has the "it's different.... WOW!" factor. after that it will be a meh moment.

Prezi is a PITA to use compared to Keynote or Libre Impress. I have given the info to some of the marketing people here and they give up after 10 minutes and go back to Libre Office and their dancing gif's and stupid looking presentations.

Now Google Docs, if they come in FTW and have linux,Windows,OSX native apps that work when not connected to the intarwebs.... I'm all for it.

Google Docs is a godsend to Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045120)

What itwbennett writes (or quoted?) is utterly stupid: Google Docs, if anything, made Linux much, much more viable on the desktop.

Oh and btw: Google Docs is already truly robust enough for businesses: more than 50% of a country's GDP come from SMEs and individuals, not from big corps (even in the U.S.). And honestly for 99% of the SMEs out there Google Docs does everything they'll ever need.

Google Docs, today, is already allowing individuals and people working in SMEs to not care anymore about version issues nor about backuping nor about synching. While, at the same time, allowing people to work at work on Windows machines and on their Mac Laptops at home / during the week-end.

If GMail + Google Docs become ubiquitous, it means you can use Linux as a desktop much, much more easily than in the OpenOffice/Thunderbird days.

Btw last I checked the strong Chromebook sales figures were kinda a case in point for it seemed like Google Docs on Chromebooks weren't exactly using neither Windows nor OS X as the underlying OS.

Re:Google Docs is a godsend to Linux (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | about 3 years ago | (#37045158)

Google Docs is only useful if it is a native application. Otherwise, it is mostly worthless and a pain in the ass(sorry, running an application within a browser is not optimal, particularly when free variants exist already).

Re:Google Docs is a godsend to Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045350)

And honestly for 99% of the SMEs out there Google Docs does everything they'll ever need.

Really? Can Google Docs make sure that my sensitive company correspondence doesn't get data mined by an advertising company?

For any company run by someone with at least 2 digits in their IQ, that's a show stopper right there.

Re:Google Docs is a godsend to Linux (1)

kiwimate (458274) | about 3 years ago | (#37045384)

Google Docs is already truly robust enough for businesses

Really? It may be getting there, but it's taking way too long. Their spreadsheet app didn't have filtering until March of this year. Sorry, but that's not professional grade, no matter how small your company is.

Re:Google Docs is a godsend to Linux (1)

arth1 (260657) | about 3 years ago | (#37045402)

And honestly for 99% of the SMEs out there Google Docs does everything they'll ever need.

Have you seen a study? Or does "honestly" really mean "guessing wildly"?
If nothing else, many companies have privacy concerns (or should have them if they don't).
Then there are all the small businesses that don't have broadband Internet access, and in many cases can't even get it (in many rural areas of the US, POTS is all you can get) or reliably use it (like in transportation and fishing).
My wild guess is that the sum of these are far more than 1%, but you honestly know better?

Meh (3, Insightful)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 3 years ago | (#37045138)

I'm done caring about the "year of the desktop debate". I use Windows 7 for gaming and I use Linux for everything else. If that puts me in a 1% camp, then so be it.

Re:Meh (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37045282)

That is exactly what I do, but even I grow tired of linux desktop

its fine as a workspace, its fine as a server, its fine for everything that linux is fine for, but desktop use is like a yo-yo, oh its getting really oh fuck it three projects forked and what the hell is kde doing?

Re:Meh (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37045354)

To reduce the number of reboots you might want to look into wine or the commercial option crossover. I know, I know, it might not be as fast, and it might not support every game ever, but if it works for you it could be an option.

I use it less and less as I start to become more interested in playing only games that are released for linux, but I still use it for AAA games.

Re:Meh (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | about 3 years ago | (#37045460)

Been there, done that with Wine. When I want to play games, I just want to play them, not bug test and troubleshoot them. So for any sane person, that just wants to make the most out of their hardware, and play any current game of their choosing, then Win7 is the way to go. For me personally, it's what I prefer. I'd rather reboot the machine once in awhile, as opposed to spending more time trying to make the game work, than playing it.

But isn't this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045148)

the year of the linux desktop?!

The desktop as it is today is done (1, Redundant)

Flipao (903929) | about 3 years ago | (#37045162)

Gamers and computer enthusiasts might stick with it, but regular users will use specialized devices as they become more compact, power efficient and above all, cheap.

Arguments May Cost Linux the Desktop? (2)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 3 years ago | (#37045186)

That all the arguing in the community is what is holding Linux back is itself a tired old argument.

already lost (1)

aahpandasrun (948239) | about 3 years ago | (#37045188)

Linux had its shot at the desktop when Netbooks first appeared. It lost that battle. I doubt it will have another one.

Why would the community care... (1)

pulse2600 (625694) | about 3 years ago | (#37045190)

...about porting Linux apps to the Cloud? TFA talks about how OpenOffice/LibreOffice will never make it to the cloud in time to be competitive vs Google Docs/Office Live...but if the Linux/FOSS crowd wants their software to remain open, why would they use such applications in the cloud? Would providing the app via the cloud into a browser be considered "distribution" of the application or binary, and if so would the cloud provider be required to provide their modified source to interested parties? If not, I see no reason why OSS advocates would even want to use such applications in the cloud...and without those who are most feverishly supportive of Open Source, what real market would "Cloud LibreOffice" or "GIMPCloud" have?

Contradictory... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 3 years ago | (#37045204)


The old arguments about desktops and application superiority aren't going to matter if all the other platforms have moved on.


Old Arguments May Cost Linux the Desktop

Make up your mind. If everyone moves to the cloud as their new platform, as noted, it simply won't matter, but that doesn't cost Linux anything, it just makes the local platform irrelevant. That happens regardless of whether people are arguing about desktop apps or not. The article gives no compelling reason why such arguments are actually harmful, or cost Linux anything, just points out how they become irrelevant. The author seems to want to argue both ways -- that someone the platform has to remain relevant when people move on to the new platform... to what end, I don't know, since the point seems to be people are inevitably move to the cloud, and the author mistakenly portrays that as "other platforms moving on" rather than "other platforms being moved away from as well in favor of the new, cloud platform".

desktop itself is doomed (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#37045220)

Lets be honest here, soon we wont have desktops like we have had for the last 20. We are right back to the micro, mini and mainframe paradigm, but now the micro-comps will be MIDs (consumption), mini-comps will be dedicated workstations (production), mainframes are the cloud (storage, processing). Linux is never going to be loved by the masses. People love marketing, Linux is pretty much the opposite of sexy marketing.

correct me if i'm wrong (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 3 years ago | (#37045228)

But if google docs gets so good that everyone is using it, isn't that one more thing that makes what desktop os you run irrelevant? That would be good for the linux desktop, right?

LInux kills the Linux Desktop (1, Informative)

Osgeld (1900440) | about 3 years ago | (#37045230)

last night I visited mod archive, and wanted to use its web player, which uses java and I didnt have it installed

Firefox pops up "you need a plug in" do its little search thing cant find shit, goto java's site there is source and RPM but no deb and I really dont feel like compiling software to listen to chiptunes

BUT thank god it was in the software manager thingie! fired it up let it install, restarted firefox "you need a plug in"

so now its a half hour later and I am digging around in a fucking ubuntu forum trying to figure out the magical cryptic command to get fucking java working in a browser, I finally found

sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jre sun-java6-plugin sun-java6-fonts

restarted firefox and OMG it works but now I have to go to bed. WTF, you seriously want people like my parents using this garbage as a mainstream OS? I don't even want to deal with it anymore, cause every single little nitpicky thing turns into a pain in the ass, and there are a trillion variations so it never seems to ever be "fixed" it just moves around distros

Linux = Servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045248)

I know people will disagree, since this is freetard-land and all, but you need to accept it.

groan (1)

tero (39203) | about 3 years ago | (#37045264) maybe the article author should try to figure out just what "linux" or "linux community" means.

Because they certainly don't mean what he thinks they mean. And therefore his reasoning is flawed from the start.

Linux is just the kernel.

There is no monolithic "community" who can make up their collective hive-minds about OpenOffice vs whatever.

There's plenty of companies, pushing out dists - and some of them might have some sort of ambition to get their particular dist on someones desktop, but it's hardly representative for the entire "community" (which doesn't even exist).

New plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045290)

1. Write pointless article rehashing what everybody's been saying for a decade about fragmentation and the Linux Desktop
2. Submit to Slashdot
3. ?????
4. Proffitt!

"Linux on the desktop" (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | about 3 years ago | (#37045296)

It's like expecting hobbyist ham radio operators to take over the broadcasting industry

Nonsense (2)

DaleGlass (1068434) | about 3 years ago | (#37045304)

It won't cost Linux the desktop for the same reason why having to choose between Google Talk, AIM and MSN doesn't do that to the Windows desktop: those things aren't really significant and not new either.

Evolution vs Thunderbird doesn't matter, as they're pretty much equivalent for most purposes. Besides, a lot of people use gmail and don't really care about either. Then it's not like Thunderbird doesn't run on Windows, creating exactly the same choice.

Libre Office vs OpenOffice doesn't really matter at this point in time either, as the differences are tiny, and the file format is standard anyway. Long term there'll probably be a clear winner. I'm betting for Libre Office because that's what Ubuntu is shipping right now, and Oracle is a hulking behemoth.

But, there's a bigger thing here, and it's that all such discussions are ultimately pointless. The OSS world is fluid and distributed. No matter how much somebody might pontificate at great length about the need for unity, nobody is obligated to care.

Libre Office for instance, appeared for a good reason, and I doubt very much the developers that work on it will suddenly "see the light" and go back to trying to submit patches to Oracle, just because some guy wrote an article saying it "might cost Linux the desktop". I'd say that most developers don't really care. At least when I contribute patches to Linux software I don't do it because of some world domination long term goal.

I think what is needed is open standards. So long I can use whatever I like to do my work, why would I need to care about what the rest of the world uses?

Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045306)

But /. told me OSX but unix on the desktop and killed Linux chances.

In all seriousness though, no OS can recreate what MS did to acheive
that kind of penetration (pun intended). It was a case of right place/right time
combined with a ruthless business sense.
And lastly: Much of Windows suckitude had to do with it's dominance. Notice how it got better
as the market was disrupted with alternatives. (Make no mistake, going from " we're in the drivers seat" to
"here is a force we cannot disrupt with SOP" is significant). Why aspire to recreating a bad situation?

Hold it (1)

notemaker (2434532) | about 3 years ago | (#37045338)

Doesn't the cloud make the host OS less significant? I'd think that'd be an argument *for* Linux on the desktop. What's that Windows license bringing you again?

Never 'gonna happen (5, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 3 years ago | (#37045352)

Linux, and open source in general, will never be that popular, simply because of cognitive load. It's software designed by engineers, with no clear understanding of style or ergonomics.

To use a car example, it's like a car with high torque and excellent gas mileage, but ugly to look at and the instruments are labelled differently and in the back seat.

Many companies hire artists and usability experts to look at the final product and make tweaks and recommendations. Some even take the trouble to engage focus groups of customers to find out what features are confusing, what aspects are uncomfortable, what looks ugly. They take this information and change their product for the better.

For the most part, the success of Apple products is for this reason: the iPod was not the first MP3 player on the market, but it's usability and aesthetic appeal and robustness made it highly popular.

Open source, on the other hand, is usually done by a single engineer putting in most of the effort. The results usually have the following pattern:

1) Documentation: Writing documentation is boring. Put up a wiki and let the users fill in the details.
2) Aesthetic looks: This is not important. Give the user a panel to change the environment to suit their tastes.
3) Compatibility: Not important. "Search for text" is different in every application, it's impossible for your fingers to memorize the action.
4) Simplicity: More features is better! Try viewing the man page for "ls" some time. Or preferences in VLC.
5) Descriptives: Don't choose descriptive names for anything. Instead of "Internet Explorer", "Paint Shop Pro" and "Media Player", use terms like "Gimp, Firefox, and VLC".

This last is one reason why old folks have a tough time using the new technology. They have to learn a completely new language: Every random word that they *thought* they knew ("pidgin", "handbrake", "calibre") means something different in the new system.

Gimme a break.

The top five or so open source projects try to deal with these issues, but the overwhelming majority are robust, strong, functional, and totally enigmatic.

Where are the open source tech writers? The ones who take that part of the problem and work alongside the engineers to ensure quality documentation? Where are the open source ergonomic experts, the usability analysts, the aesthetic artists? Who ever does usability studies, or consistency between apps?

Until the engineers get a clue, open source projects will never be more than a closet of hobbyist projects.

Making good software is more than robust coding.

Linux lost the battle for the desktop... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045356)

About eight years ago, when Red Hat pulled their desktop distro from the shelves. They were the only vendor that would have had the credibility and financial resources to stand up to Microsoft and Apple.

Assembling and maintaining the desktop operating system stack is perhaps best done on a single campus by a company that can afford to hire UI designers, usability folks, localization staff, product marketers, project managers, customer support specialists, and QA testers (as well as developers) in droves, and keep them on the payroll for release after release.

Cost it's shot? (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 3 years ago | (#37045368)

What shot at the desktop? That battle was fought and is pretty much over. There are new battles ahead, and the desktop is evolving into something else. You can see both Microsoft and Apple are taking their desktop operating systems in decidedly non-desktop directions. What is the open source world doing? Well if Ubuntu Unity and Gnome 3 are any indication it doesn't look good in my opinion.

Here we go... (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 3 years ago | (#37045380)

1. Write inflammatory blog post about Linux on desktop.
2. ???
3. Proffitt

Summary, translated (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045382)

"Some dude I've never heard of writes idiotic opinion on blog."

I think one of the problems with people who make statements like this is they have their thinking about Linux and free/open software all wrong. In particular, they see the world as defined by its conflicts. So immediately they jump into "Linux vs. Everything else". Linux vs. Windows. Linux vs. Mac. If you're stubborn and think in a box perhaps this mentality makes a lot of sense.

I don't see it that way. First, I don't think Linux ever set out to deliberately take over the world. But to me, Linux is more like a tool that I use. I am very glad to have it, but do I care how it does relative to others? Only insomuch as it's good to have a vibrant community of developers and users. If that can be said (and I think that statement has been true for most of Linux's existence), then great. Beyond that, I'm not very interested in the horse race.

When Ubuntu started (2)

drolli (522659) | about 3 years ago | (#37045400)

to gradually improve things in gnome, i was happy because that was actually the first time i have seen that things - even small things where continuously getting better (talking about 2007-2009). In the end they really had me stopping using the terminal, something which was absurd a few years back.

But now that they decided to go the (steep) way of pushing gnome in one direction which keeps and makes it usable, but rolling out their own shit (Yes, i mean it - 11.04 made me think about switching back) and weirdly enough did not adress the obviously missing parts (e.g. pdf commenting is possible only in okular, openoffice would need a closer look by somebody who integrates it), i am extremely pessimistic.

Why is this a bad thing? (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | about 3 years ago | (#37045410)

We have 'arguments' for who gets to come with the system. Why is this a bad thing?

Whenever your position is shaky, you are driven to do more. When IE locked down the market, it stagnated. Now there are so much different competitors, you need to innovate.

This is a GOOD THING. If I'm developing something and I want to get default, I need to be better than the current one. So I innovate.

Plus you can still get the other choices, so there's no loss.

Do you have a solution? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 3 years ago | (#37045422)

Others have covered why this is not actually a problem or why it was never going to happen in the first place, but my issue with this is no solutions are proposed. It's easy to come up with potential problems, but kind of pointless if there's no solution. What would a solution even look like?

Wait until one of the options is clearly far and away better in all aspects than everything else and go with that one?
Declare by consenus that "this one" is the way to go?
Agree to elect a decision maker to decide all those old arguments?

It seems like the timescale for the first one is infinity. The second one won't happen on it's own either. The third one would be absurd and would only work until the first decision is made, at which time most people who were on the losing side of the argument would still go with gnome or unity or open office, or whatever.

This guy is right (1)

fudoniten (918077) | about 3 years ago | (#37045430)

This guy is totally right. All this choice is just too confusing. There are too many competing options, and it's ruining things for everybody.

So I'm going to start listing alternatives, and we'll get a simple, fair show of hands. I hope the losing projects have the good grace to step down, disband, wipe their code base, and instruct their users to migrate to the winning project. Oh, I'm sure it'll be hard, but it's the only way to get to the Year of the Linux Desktop.

Okay, let's start at the basics:

vi, or emacs?

Religious wars (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 3 years ago | (#37045462)

The only thing bloodier than the Windows / Mac / Linux religious wars are the internal Linux wars.

Obligatory XKCD (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 3 years ago | (#37045468) []

But you know, there are a lot of people who are disagreeing with the article, but I generally agree. At first the "fighting" was productive. It served a purpose as it created a competitive environment in which various projects could mature. I don't think that's the case any longer. Now we are seeing different drives behind projects and now we are seeing a lot of "change for the sake of change" and version number escalation clearly meant to make people think there's a huge difference between (for example) Firefox 4.x and Firefox 5.x.

And if various projects can't manage to work together for a common cause or goal, then it is highly unlikely there will be much acceptance of Linux in the Enterprise for desktop use. Why should they when there are so many flavors and styles out there? We're not just talking about theming, but also various internals as well.

One thing that is horribly wrong with Linux today is that a useful software package is nearly impossible to create which works on ALL of the current distributions. That's a tremendous and obvious block right there.

The last time I spoke words like these, someone use the word "shill" to describe me. I am a hard-core Linux user. I favor RedHat based Linuxes (though I'm not pleased with F15 at all... mostly GNOME3's fault) and the only Windows anything I use are in VMs that are called up on an as-needed basis. So it's not like I don't love or use Linux and definitely not like I'm not a user and don't know what I'm talking about. I've been at this since the beginning of RedHat 4.0 and have watched it grow and improve since that time. I'm no shill. But I can definitely see where things are going wrong and they are. The community must change and especially mature.

Cloud == New Mainframe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37045476)

The rest is bickering over your favorite terminal.

No worries the desktops killed themselves (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 3 years ago | (#37045484)

Really? Unity vs Gnome 3 vs KDE 4 whatever? There is no difference, they ALL suck. I have used Linux for a LONG time but the recent changes to the basic desktops have me ready to throw in the towel. Yesterday I accidently let Sabayon upgrade... instant problems as gnome 3 greeted me with its "fuck you". As simple a thing as opening a samba share requires killing a runaway browser process every single time.

The odd thing is that I had just helped some people migrate to Gnome 2 to get rid of constant virus infections when all they wanted to do is browse the net and play flash games when this shit hit. First Ubuntu and now everyone else.

I am now considering going for a Ubuntu LTE and just not updating it at least Ubuntu makes it bloody clear you are about to destroy your productivity.

The author claims Linux people should work together. Well they have. KDE/Gnome/Unity bundled forces and ruined the desktop. And for what? Tons of bugs, lots of disgruntled users and still not going to be adopted mainstream.

I had to check if Smedley hadn't finally led off by SOE and started working for opensource. Gnome 3 and the NGE have a LOT in common. Wonder if any of the three desktops will ever admit they were wrong.

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