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How Apple Killed the Linux Desktop

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the linux-mobile-seeking-vengeance dept.

OS X 933

An anonymous reader writes "Klint Finley discusses Miguel de Icaza's thoughts on how OS X killed Linux on the desktop: 'de Icaza says the desktop wars were already lost to OS X by the time the latest shakeups started happening. And he thinks the real reason Linux lost is that developers started defecting to OS X because the developers behind the toolkits used to build graphical Linux applications didn’t do a good enough job ensuring backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. "For many years, we broke people’s code," he says. "OS X did a much better job of ensuring backward compatibility."' This, he says, led developers to use OS X as a desktop for server programming. It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline."

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I am... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164553)

One of the first. You cannot deny it.

It's too bad (5, Insightful)

gravyface (592485) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164561)

Because nothing beats Linux for package management. Miss not having a repo of open source at my disposal; the App Store will never touch it.

Re:It's too bad (5, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164589)

Because nothing beats Linux for package management. Miss not having a repo of open source at my disposal; the App Store will never touch it.

You mean you miss something like MacPorts [] ?

Re:It's too bad (2, Insightful)

gravyface (592485) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164653)

Never found MacPorts to be nearly as friendly/comprehensive as a good ol' Ubuntu apt repository. It's also 3rd-party and at the mercy of Apple and requires a bunch of prerequisites.

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164849)

well, on ubuntu you write "apt-get ", on mac ports you write "port ". Big difference, huh?
The only prerequisite is to have a compiler, you can start with the one shipped with xcode and then switch to the gnu one "ported" from ports, if you really want to.
Last but not least, what means "at mercy of Apple"? it isn't something that you remove or that can be blocked by the apple security features in mountain lion.

Re:It's too bad (5, Informative)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165073)

It's also 3rd-party and at the mercy of Apple and requires a bunch of prerequisites.

At the mercy of Apple? It's amazing how much anti-Apple bullshit gets modded as "insightful".

Let's not forget Homebrew. Homebrew does a nice job of packaging programs that coexist with the versions of prerequisite programs that are included in the OS X system files.

Re:It's too bad (2)

wisty (1335733) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165071)

I've always found getting the right version of gcc to be a little ... difficult.

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164631)

if you want "a repo of open source at my disposal" you can just use mac ports ( It works exceptionally well.

Re:It's too bad (3, Informative)

Kergan (780543) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164655)

You can use macports or homebrew on OS X. Both have all of the key OSS packages, and the latter additionally allows to manage your own private packages. What else would you need? OS X is FreeBSD with a fancy UI (and Obj-C)... You can shell script the daylights out of your box all you want if that's your thing.

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165027)

Except that both solutions you mention barely work. I have lost hours and hours trying to set-up my macbook for development, whereas with ubuntu would be simply a one-liner with apt-get.

Re:It's too bad (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164697)

witch one?

That is the problem

Re:It's too bad (5, Insightful)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164703)

^ This

Running on Linux fulltime for 3 years and counting... I find it funny how in so many people's measure the non-commercial linux offering with commercial metrics. Linux fills my niche pretty well, employees at Google would agree with me too. The desktop is a viable alternative, I say it suceeded where it counts, to computer literate people like me and many many other slashdotters.

Market domination is not the only way to succeed.

Re:It's too bad (5, Interesting)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164877)

Agreed. I've been begging my IT department to let me run Linux on my laptop, and run our corporate Windows image in a desktop VM, but they won't let me. When I had more direct admin rights, I was running a dual boot system on my laptop, and was using the Linux side for about 80% of my work. The only time I'd head over to the Windows side was when I needed to get into Sharepoint or something like that.

Re:It's too bad (5, Insightful)

Alan Shutko (5101) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165111)

FWIW, I ran Linux full-time from 1994 through 2008. What finally did it for me was power management and the hassle it took to get laptops to work well under Linux. Linux worked well if you picked up a 1-2 year old laptop, because by then you could find support for most of the hardware, but you were in for a world of hurt if you wanted anything new.

Anecdotally, I know a bunch of people who switched to Mac for the same reason. Get a MacBook, and you had a laptop that could suspend and resume reliably... And you had your shell underneath.

Re:It's too bad (0, Troll)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164771)

Package management is part of the problem. You can smear as much lipstick as you want on that pig, it has no place on a desktop OS. The only reason Linux needs it at all is because every developer out there is absolutely determined to include the most obscure libraries he can find and include them in his app (incidentally also negating the reuse advantage libraries were originally built for.) When installing a simple app requires you to download hundreds of megs worth of libraries and upgrade half your GUI environment something's amiss.

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164939)

this. oh, the irony of having the cleanest design for decoupling clients from the running x server environment and then having everything linked up with the environment manager because each implementor decided to make one and the same of the wm and the libraries.

and now, if you want that old game compiled more than a year ago, you need to install a old x11/gnome version in a chroot. yay!

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165015)

Did you read yesterday's Dilbert comic [] and decide to talk like an idiot?

Re:It's too bad (2)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165021)

You are an idiot. Are you saying it belongs on the server, and practically speaking, the smartphone (app stores are essentially package managers, just generally less powerful), but not on the desktop? Also, while sometimes an app may have a large amount of dependencies, on average, the install is less than the minimal install of other operating systems, and on average, it's a significantly smaller download when you want a single program. You could probably install 2 or 3 DEs with a smaller install size than Windows.

Re:It's too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165109)

At the low level I like Linux's package management, but the implementations suck.

The last time I used Unbuntu (say 2010, maybe the first 2011 release), there were still items that appeared in the "Add/Remove" application that couldn't actually be removed. You'd click the Remove button and get some non-sensible error message. The package manager app available in the Settings group of applications, which was nice in that it showed dependencies, could maybe remove it after an amount of manual hunting down of things. And you had to know what it is you wanted, due to the way packages are named.

The actual Add/Remove had a variety of worthless descriptions of applications. There are dozens of time tracking apps, for instance, and most all of them have the dectriptions "time tracking app" or something similar. Search sucked unless you already knew what you wanted. Categorization wasn't bad but wasn't good either. The popularity scores were all screwed up because apps included in the default build, all billion of them, dominated the top of the sort to an extent I always became bored trying to scroll past them.

A check at the Ubuntu site shows me they've changed, yet again, the way users install applications and it is now called "Ubuntu Software Center" and looks thoroughly Apple App Store like. Tree on the left, icon grid on the right, with star ratings and reviews and cost. I think that is a good improvement that I'd like to check out, but I also doubt they've solved other problems.

And there is the issue of how to install anything not in the repo. For casual users, Linux is garbage for that. On Windows you download an exe and follow a wizard. OSX, it is a dmg and then usually some kind of drag and drop. On Linux you first have to figure out what kind of package your distro can use, which users are less likely to know the more dumbed down the front end gets. You download that and maybe it works or maybe you have to go manually hunt down various libraries. Or maybe you already have them, but their version won't work with your new app. Or maybe you have to untar the tarball. Or gunzip it, or make. Or maybe you make and make doesn't make. Or any of a variety of other stupidities. This happens for software that isn't in the repo at all, or the version that is is well behind. I recall TrueCrypt specifically recommending downloading from the web site rather than using repos, and my crypto software isn't something I want missing patches.

But the article's assertion that Apple killed the Linux desktop is silly. Geeks still use it at the same rate they always have, and normal people never used it to begin with.

In other Words (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164563)

Linux killed Linux on the Desktop. "I would be on the Desktop, if it wasn't for those pesky Operating Systems with their fancy backward compatibility!"

The real reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164583)

OSX killed Linux on the desktop indirectly only because the most popular (to the layman) distro is Ubuntu and Ubuntu thought it would be cute to revamp their desktop into a wannabe OSX desktop, pissing many like me off in the process. A Relix is not a Rolex. A Coby is not a Sony. Ubuntu was doing just fine in making a name for itself, now it's a watered-down sissy distro which threw itself at Steve Jobs' feet rather than continue manning the fuck up.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:The real reason (3, Informative)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164729)

Try Xubuntu, one thing Linux is good at is providing enough flexibility for you to escape those dumbed down distro. Failure to recognize this will get your nerd licence revoked!

Re:The real reason (2)

wed128 (722152) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165059)

or um....debian? Why all the love for the *buntu distros? Head for the source!

Re:The real reason (2, Insightful)

StefanWiesendanger (687733) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164833)

OS X had already killed Linux on the desktop when Ubuntu didn't even exist yet.

Not another Slashdot Troll post! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164585)

Sheesh not another fucktard slashdot troll if we say it enough times it must be true post.

When did slashdot get so fucked up?

Posted from my perfectly working LINUX Desktop thank you very much.

bleat bleat linux must be dead OSX, bleat bleat Linux destroyed by Windows 8, bleat bleat APIs will eat you babies and Linux, bleat bleat TUX is a stoopid logo, Apples are better, Linux must be dead bleat bleat.

Apple didn't kill it, Microsoft did. (5, Insightful)

iCEBaLM (34905) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164593)

Windows 7 was the nail in the coffin, if Windows 7 wasn't as good as it is, and another Vista stinker was pooped out of Redmond then Linux possibly may have had a chance.

Re:Apple didn't kill it, Microsoft did. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164685)

Don't speak too soon, Windows 8 is a-comin'.

Re:Apple didn't kill it, Microsoft did. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164777)

Why didn't Linux Desktop take off when Vista hit the market? The fact is that there's no big company pushing Linux desktop and running expensive ads for it on American TV. It will never be more than a niche player.

Re:Apple didn't kill it, Microsoft did. (4, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164871)

For consumers, Linux has never been an option because OEMs don't push it. Enterprises have now accepted Linux as servers and in some cases prefer it over Windows and Unix. Win 8 may or may bot change things. Unlike Vista, OEMs can offer Win 7 as a viable alternative as it is not near EOL that XP was. But MS didn't compete against the partners with Vista as they will with Win 8.

Re:Apple didn't kill it, Microsoft did. (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164933)

I doubt that. As bad as Vista was, it drove approximately no one to Linux. If anything, OSX would be the one to pick up the exodus, not Linux. But neither really benefited that much from Vista's blunders, because most users just stayed where they were: on XP, and if Windows 7 turned out to suck, they'd probably still be there today.

Shift to the web (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164595)

Yes, focus did shift to the web. How many web apps are run by OS X? How many web apps are run by Windows? How many web apps are run by Linux?

If the browser is the desktop, it's hard to make the argument that Linux 'lost'.

De Icasa, (5, Insightful)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164603)

I can't manage to notice that Ubuntu or Mageia or Fedora stopped shipping because bam, Linux Desktop is killed by MacOS X. Can you tell us why exactly is Linux dead? (And why would we trust Icasa anyway? It's not like he actually did anything of note or made the right choices in the last 4 years or so.)

Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (5, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164615)

So, the way I see it, there are 3 competing families of OSs. That is Windows, Linux and Apple. With Linux traditionally installed on about 1% of desktops, I would think that Windows is the big loser here. If OS X is nowadays installed on 6 -7% of desktops (see: TFA), then it's Windows that lost marketshare.

Sure, it could have been Linux to steal that marketshare. Linux might still benefit from it though... once the market realizes that you can switch without turning your PC into a smoking pile of rubble, they also might try Linux. I still think that Ubuntu is a very decent option.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164665)

Ubuntu used to be a decent option. These days, Mint is far better. What with the working codec and lack of Unity.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (1)

cgt (1976654) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165075)

You don't have to use Unity just because you use Ubuntu, it doesn't even have to be installed (ever). Just use the alternative CD and Unity won't bug you, and the codecs can be installed easily in Ubuntu. Linux Mint is Ubuntu for people who don't understand how Linux works.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164831)

Windows is losing marketshare, not Linux. Go to a college campus or local coffee shop and look around at those using their computers to do work. Count how many PCs you see and how many Macs you see. I was honestly shocked to see Macs beating PCs every time at many different study locations I was using.

Those people using laptops are probably not going to be using Linux to do their work and are either going to choose Mac or Windows. While I continue to use Linux on the server and have solely for the last 10 years (I used it on the desktop prior to 2002), I chose Mac over Windows for my laptop and I know many others who went that direction as well.

In another thread someone said if Win7 wasn't as good as it is, Linux may have had a chance. I disagree. In fact, using Win7 on my work desktop and hating the quirks it has was what really helped push me to the Mac.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165061)

Not at my institution. They are largely premed and pharmacy students, and I barely ever see an apple machine. I see more of those funky laptops with the swivel touch display than I see macbooks or ipads.

Windows isn't losing marketshare on those Macs (3, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165113)

I work at a university and what I see nearly universally is that people who get Macs get VMWare or Parallels and Windows. They aren't getting a Mac because it does everything they need, they are getting a Mac because it is fashionable, and they can get Windows on it as well. While Dell may not like that, it doesn't hurt MS as long as Windows keeps getting sold.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164895)

Except that OSX "stole" a large part of Linux' target audience (on the desktop side of things) and has thus stunted its potential growth. Mac laptops are quite popular in the developer and sysadmin world.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165103)

There's a reason that Mac laptops are popular with developers. In a business setting, one may need commercial software like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. it can't be done on Linux unless one thinks foolishly a user would depend on WINE for this. A Mac is a great platform for web development with Java, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.

Macs give you a UNIX OS with commercial and open source apps. Macs also just work. There's no screwing with changing settings so you can actually see your display because the new kernel decided that ACPI video should have the backlight turned off on your POS Toshiba laptop. The sound card works. Crazy stuff like hardware just works on a Mac. Linux could be great and it could get real marketshare if people could only learn to work together. There's so much competition and reinventing ideas in the Linux community. By the time a sound system or video drivers are polished, a new API is out to replace it. It's often not even the kernel that's the problem. There is a benefit to the Linux model, but also a cost. Compatibility isn't all bad. That's why I use BSD and Mac OS X.

There are some really good, mature Linux developers, but there's also some immature folks working on key projects like Gnome, Ubuntu, etc. that think they can change everything overnight and everyone will follow. It doesn't work like that.

Re:Linux marketshare going down? Or OS X going up? (4, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164971)

With Linux traditionally installed on about 1% of desktops, I would think that Windows is the big loser here. If OS X is nowadays installed on 6 -7% of desktops (see: TFA), then it's Windows that lost marketshare.

On that you are correct. It's not that Linux has lost much in the way of market share - it's kind of difficult to lose what you don't have much of in the first place - but rather it's Mac OS X that has been eating up Microsoft's market share.

However the story isn't really about who lost market share, but rather who gained it and why. Linux could have been; it could have been right up to the point in time where Apple introduced the x86 version of Mac OS X. Once they did that many geeks lost their desire to run Linux. Mac OS X could bring all the wonderful things about *nix to the desktop in a far more refined form while offering the kind of retail software and media ecosystem that most desktop users take for granted.

Desktop Linux is still important as a new technology testbed, and of course as the only true free OS (both as in speech and as in beer), but that's about all it has going for it. I for one stopped keeping a desktop Linux installation around after 2008 once I realized that Mac OS X did all of the things I needed (or liked) Linux for. And that's the story TFA is telling: why Mac OS X has drawn away many desktop *nix users, and how the rise of OS-agnostic Web applications has drawn away a lot of the rest.

Actually Miguel... (5, Insightful)

Onymous Hero (910664) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164617)

Gnome3 has killed the Linux Desktop. Thanks.

Re:Actually Miguel... (5, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164809)

Gnome3 has killed the Linux Desktop. Thanks.

Gnome 3 and Unity collaborated on it (did some MS/Apple plant steer them into uselessness?). A pox on both of them, anyway.
All of our home PCs have migrated to Xubuntu, because xfce gives an actual working desktop. And with compiz, it's snazzier than OSX or Win7.

Miguel is a scumbag (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164627)

Miguel is a Microsoft cheerleader, a corporate tool and a genuinely nasty human being. Take nothing he says as anything but sour grapes over his failure to contaminate and destroy gnu-linux with that turdbomb called Mono, which has mercifully been a total failure.

Not so (4, Informative)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164635)

Linux is still alive and well on my desktop, thank you!

Switched to OS X (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164637)

I recently switched to OS X for software development. After installing X-Code (a 10 minute fully automated process), I can run and compile all major programming/script languages from the command-line. I also get all the other cool stuff like diff, MD5, vim.

On Windows, I'll have to go through hell and back to get my development environment operating as smoothly as that. On Linux, it's about as easy as configuring it as OS X, but I hate having to deal with the inconsistent desktop environment and the constant driver trouble.

Re:Switched to OS X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164813)

Yeah...unless you're planning on using Java or anything that the people at Cupertino deemed unworthy of their effort at this point you're better off actually switching back to Linux at least it'll have proper support now.
Heck MSFT do a better job supporting their stuffs.
Apple deemed OS X from 2007 to be unworthy of their time, meanwhile MSFT is still supporting their PoS Vista which came 2007 too.
Now I know why dealing with OS made for business is actually a good thing

desktop is thinner nowadays than ever (2)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164641) why does this matter?

At my work I do not care what desktop I am using, since I do all my development on a Linux server anyway.

Wrong answer (-1, Flamebait)

Mabhatter (126906) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164647)

Its about MEDIA. With OSX you could have a real, solid Unix command line, and still sync your phone, iPod, etc. to run Linux well, you need to buy from a handful of companies that will actually support their machines, or you could just get a Mac and have a foot in both sides. It also helps that Macs have had access to at least some official enterprise packages, for instance they get "real" MS Office and "real" licensed Exchange support.

Eventually trying to keep a Linux Desktop that's USEFUL for anything except Linux is a hardship. When you grow up and need to stop getting your media from pirate sites, and need to access company systems that are wretchedly old, you have to choose Mac or PC... With Mac you can even run Windows along side (no dual booting!) so it becomes a settled issue. When you hit the $100k a year mark, your employer is paying for RESULTS not your political statement.

Re:Wrong answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164731)

Can you get any more clueless?

Seriously??? (1)

bgarcia (33222) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164649)

Linux was never a competitor on the desktop.

It has very little to do with the quality of the software, or backwards compatibility. The problem is that Linux didn't have a big marketing machine pushing it on the desktop.

Re:Seriously??? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164753)

It has very much to do with the availability of software and poor central management. If your corporate offices with 200 desktops could run the ERP, financials, payroll and what have you on Linux and administer it like they can with a Windows network, they'd be all over it. Stop sweeping that issue under the carpet.

Re:Seriously??? (1)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164901)

And it's a catch-22 because all that software doesn't happen magically, it has to have users interested for it. And for users to be on Linux and interested , well, they have to have all that software on linux working. Loop.

Desktops are pigs for refurbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164671)

Torvalds switched to Xfce, a desktop environment originally created as a lighter-weight alternative to the dominant GNOME and KDE environments

Even Xfce is becoming a pig. There are a LOT of old refrub'ed P4s in the market and they were great for Linux - with a light desktop (i.e. Desktops other than KDE and GNOME) and Xfce was my first choice. But the last time I put Mint with Xfce it was too slow and took up too much memory. I switched to LXDE but unfortunately, the latest version of Mint doesn't have it.

It looks like eventually for all these machines - that run XP quite well, BTW - just putting on a Linux distro w/o a desktop will be the only option or leave the XP license on it.

Re:Desktops are pigs for refurbs (3, Insightful)

AdmV0rl0n (98366) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164785)

Refurbished Pentium 4's are a terrible pair of rose tinted glasses to view your computing through. Basing that on your computational future isn't in a good boundary layer.
While lightweight OSs have a place - its not a be all and end all. New computer equipment is in relative terms cheap.

As for Linux, Miguel is right. A sea of shifting APIs might be accepted at the edge, but anyone making stuff needs stability and this is what you get on a Windows or OSX platform - to some degree. Its never total.

Is linux still arguing over the 20 ways to do sound? Still? In 2012?

Good luck to the steam guys trying to build on this sea of swirling open source maelstrom :)

Re:Desktops are pigs for refurbs (2)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164911)

So, is WASAPI or Directsound right this time on windows? Maybe ASIO? sigh.

My Linux Desktop (2, Informative)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164673)

Is not dead yet!

It's not because of developers "defecting". (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164675)

I agree with the statement that "OS X killed Linux on the desktop", but it's not because Linux developers "defected" to using Mac OS X instead.

Rather, I think it's quite the opposite that actually happened. Designers (not developers!) infatuated with the Mac OS X ideology tried to bring that mindset over to Linux desktop environment projects like GNOME, Unity, and to a lesser extent KDE. Even other applications, like Firefox and Chrome, have been stricken by this problem.

Basically, these designers have done everything in their power to dumb down and otherwise molest the Linux desktop experience. GNOME 3 is the ultimate example of this. While GNOME 2 wasn't perfect by any means (and no software ever is), at least it was usable and predictable. People could use it to get some real work done. Then GNOME 3 came along. It was quickly co-opted and infused with the crap that's commonplace within the Mac OS X and iOS way of doing things.

Anyone who has tried to seriously use GNOME 3 knows what I'm talking about. Put politely, it's a heaping pile of shit. Usability was completely thrown out the window. The emphasis was put on making it look "pretty" and "trendy", rather than making it into a useful tool. This is, of course, a big reason why it fell flat on its face. It's now going down in history as one of the biggest open source disasters of all time.

The same has happened to the Firefox UI. It was once sensible, with the traditional menus and toolbars, and a useful status bar. Then Mac OS X started to become popular among the design community, and things went to hell within Firefox's UI. Like with GNOME 3, usability was again thrown out the window in the name of "aesthetics". Now Firefox's UI is quite awful, and requires much reconfiguration and the use of numerous plugins to restore the usability that the Mac OS X-inspired designers decided to throw out for no good reason.

The Mac OS X and iOS mentality has its place, and that's in low-end (although perhaps unnecessarily expensive), consumer-grade devices meant mainly for consuming pointless social media "content". It does not belong on Linux workstations, especially ones where usability is extremely important, and productivity is a must. But now that it has infected what were once usable desktop environments, many within the Linux community are beginning to really feel the pain of this terrible design ideology.

Re:It's not because of developers "defecting". (1)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165081)

Firefox is still alive and well, and on my Linux installation the GUI hasn't changed a bit since the 3.6 days. The menubar is just the same.
You are also forgetting KDE, as it implements traditional desktop elements and so is inconvenient for your theory. Actually, with little tweaks it can resemble anything but Unity: MacOSX, Gnome2, Windows XP, Win7, etc.

Apple killed the linux desktop? (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164689)

News to me since my laptop at work runs it and I use it at meeting and other things to get stuff done. When it's not letting me do worky things I have it pumping out streaming media and video like a champ.

Re:Apple killed the linux desktop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164775)

You don't understand what the word "killed" means in this context. Public school?

Re:Apple killed the linux desktop? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164917)

Read summary again, desktop not laptop

next up @ 11 (0)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164691)

How not a single fuck was givin' today.

Re:next up @ 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164925)

"givin'" is short for "giving". Did you mean "given"?

Change for changes sake (2, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164699)

Microsoft did a similar thing with DirectX for graphics: They kept bringing out new versions which were incompatible with old versions, and it kept demanding rewrites. Yes, some of the new stuff is cool, but even the object names have the version numbers embedded in them e.g. LPDIRECT3DINDEXBUFFER9 === That 9 is for DirectX version 9! Sometimes you want to write code and leave it without having to spend the rest of your life rewriting it, just because some dweeb in Microsoft gets an itch. In the end we gave up and switched to OpenGL.

Re:Change for changes sake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165091)

ya kinda contradicted yourself. the whole point of having the 9 in LPDIRECT3DINDEXBUFFER9 is to allow you to write your code to a specific API and NOT have to constantly rewrite it when changes occur in future versions as that call will behave the same way on DX10, DX11 etc.

Infighting, not developers killed Linux (5, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164707)

Like many other geeks I think I looked at Linux desktops back in the Gnome 1 days and thought "Hey, this thing will be really nice in a couple of years when it's finished." Fast forward a coupe of years, a lot of infighting and a rewrite later and I was still thinking that or would have I hadn't lost all faith that these guys could ever produce anything to rival commercial GUI's. So now I'm a mac user and I get all that UNIX-y goodness and none of the open source drama queen bullshit.

Re:Infighting, not developers killed Linux (2)

neye_eve (212185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165093)

So now I'm a mac user and I get all that UNIX-y goodness and none of the open source drama queen bullshit.

True. Now Apple will take care of your decisions for you so that you don't have to be exposed to that "drama queen bullshit".

One word: (0)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164741)

You want marketshare? Get real-world professional applications (Adobe alone would entice me) on board with your OS, otherwise you're simply dreaming.

Linux on the desktop was never even a remote reality for anyone sane enough to consider. Apple didn't kill it (for the same reason Windows, or BeOS, or OS/2 didn't), lack of professional applications did

Re:One word: (4, Insightful)

sidthegeek (626567) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164927)

It's a catch-22. Commercial software firms won't write consumer products for Linux because there isn't enough demand. There isn't enough demand for Linux because it doesn't run much commercial software.

Of course! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164751)

I'm one of the Linux -> Mac OS converts (from about 5 or 6 years ago). Reasons I used Linux - primarily to have a *ix shell at my disposal, the GNU tools/compilers, ... I was happy on Linux, but "rpm hell" and the lack of support for the newest of the new devices, and lack of major 3rd party support of the platform -- those all sorta sucked, and the first time I used Mac OS X and saw that gcc was available from the terminal window, well, .. bye bye Linux. (Still use Linux for all servers I manage, tho)

Yes, it did help. (5, Insightful)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164769)

It didn't help that development was 'shifting to the web,' with the need for native applications on the decline.

Yes, it did help. Web applications definately make switching easier (to Mac or to Linux). He's wrong about the web emphasis hurting Linux.

I'm also not sold on the idea that it was backward compatibility that was the problem either. Of all the options, Microsoft has the OS with the best backward compatibility.

First, Mac's consistently break things with each new version, unlike de Icaza states. However, what is brilliant about Apple is every time before they introduce a new feature or break an old feature they have a huge marketing push for it. That marketing push makes the users become interested in that new feature. The developers, who want more users and who may also themselves be excited about the feature, then implement it. This is why we see apps bragging about their Retina graphics on the App Store before Retina machines are even widespread or their notifications or, back in the day, their dashboard widgets. Mountain Lion broke lots. Lion broke lots, but the Mac developers always fix this fast because they are very aware of new software versions due to marketing efforts. Linux has nobody marketing each new feature and edition and focusing both the users and developers in this way.

Secondly, Linux is too difficult for non-computer-literate users to use. It doesn't have to be and indeed strides have been made, but until you will literally never have to use the terminal and you can put a Windows software disk into your Linux CD-ROM drive (while those still exist) and have it install and automatically use Wine with the correct settings and work on the first try without tweaks, it is too hard for grandma.

That said, Ubuntu with Cairo-Dock is a dream to run compared to any version of Windows out there and I have no idea why people don't use it more. I love it. It's not my main OS though. That would be OS X. I'm one of those people using OS X as a desktop for programming that de Icaza talks about, but I can tell you it wasn't backward-compatibility that made me choose it.

Re:Yes, it did help. (1)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165031)

That said, any OS is hard for the computer-illiterate.

Gaming is what kills Linux desktop (2)

begonia (177694) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164773)

I hear it over and over -- I'd run Linux if I could play games.

Of course, Mark Shuttleworth and Unity, Gnome3, and KDE are trying their best to kill it too. It's getting harder and harder to find a good windows manager on Linux.

Re:Gaming is what kills Linux desktop (1)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165019)

If you are looking for a good WM in the sphere of Unity/Gnome3/KDE, you should re-evaluate what you want from a WM. If you are looking for a good DE, I find KDE more than satisfactory, especially if you start by the minimal package and only install apps you like.

Re:Gaming is what kills Linux desktop (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165043)

I hear it over and over -- I'd run Linux if I could play games.

That didn't stop OS X from growing, even though the mac is (or rather was) notoriously lacking in the games department. In fact OS X is only now getting serious attention from game studios by riding on the coattails of its more popular little brother IOS.

broke whose code? (2)

NynexNinja (379583) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164779)

Not sure why they give this guy a voice, but whose code got broken? Xlib has been around for decades. GTK has been around for decades. KDE has been around for decades. QT has been around for decades.

Re:broke whose code? (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164915)

Didn't KDE break for 4.0?

Re:broke whose code? (2)

BanHammor (2587175) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164987)

And yet I still manage to run some of the apps written in KDE3 era. (But everybody switched to Qt4 in the past 4 years anyway.) Compat libs are still there.

Dead? (2)

sa666u (2626427) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164835)

The Linux desktop is not dead. I've been using one for the past 10 years. The community is more alive and vibrant than ever, there is a virtually unlimited choice. I really find these discussions completely pointless and the product of sulking disillusioned developers. For a largely free, community driven project, Linux is a wild success. I love it and will continue to use it until the day comes when we'll no longer be allowed to choose what software or hardware to use.

Amen! (1)

JHSW (2700859) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165049)

I agree, Linux on the desktop is far from dead. I know several people who use Linux on a day to day basis. At home, at work, etc. I'm not quite there yet, but I do have Arch Linux on my laptop dual-booted with Windows 7. My goal, which I want to achieve within the next few years, is to use Linux as close to 100% of the time as possible. I want to make it my primary OS on the desktop, on the laptop, everywhere.

Re:Dead? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165089)

I love how you nerds can't seem to separate your personal feelings from a technology choice. I assume you're either physically or emotionally 14 because it's very immature to get so tied up in something so meaningless.

Linux Desktop killed itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164863)

Unix: OpenWindows versus Motif - result: The winner is Windows.
Linux: Gnome versus KDE - result: The winner is Windows.

Linux killed linux on the desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164869)

I mean..not really linux, since linux is just the kernel. The fragmented distros concept. Itiotic moves by kde (killing the stable 3 and introducing still buggy 4 after years), gnome (common, gnome 3 is a joke), and Ubuntu with Unity.

If linux really wanted to succeed, it would need to have a preferred, official distro with desktop and everything.
linus with his everybody-else-is-an-idiot approach doesn't help. And yes, it is his fault that each bloody version of kernel breaks comparibility with video drivers.

Like many mory i got Mac and never looked back. linux is dead to me - unless running on a server.

API Changes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164879)

Right, because the whole NeXtStep -> Rhapsody -> PostScript -> Quartz -> Cocoa never broke anything.

I'm personally disappointed - not about linux (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164897)

I can't believe that in 2012 we STILL doesn't have direct comparability of software between operating systems. Wasn't this something we were going to fix in the 80s? Writing a program shouldn't be writing it for a particular OS, it should be writing it for computers in general. This is the kind of thing the government needs to mandate. (yes, I'm aware of the open source movement and have not been burying my head in the sand, I just think its bullshit that none of the big players can come together and agree on a damn standard of interoperability. Its like we've completely lost sight of that goal.

Re:I'm personally disappointed - not about linux (1)

ecbpro (919207) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164993)

Totally agree with you. And now with the smartphones it is only getting worse. A global executable file compatibility would be nice to have.

The Linux Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164935)

I have used Linux on the desktop since t998.

I refuse to use Windows on principle, and, as a disabled man on Social Security Disability, I simply cannot afford Apple hardware. I love Linux, and especially Ubuntu, for the choices I can select. I work the way I want to, not the way someone else thinks that I should!

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41164945)

The word "Apple" and "killed Linux": that you'll get ya a few clicks and a substancial ammount of cents from the ads.

If this is true, then Linux killed OSX server (1)

Meatbucket (2039104) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164959)

Ironic how the article claims OSX killed Linux on the desktop when OSX Server hardware had pretty much died (or maybe never really took off) almost at the same time.

COM, CORBA, Objective-C (4, Interesting)

lkcl (517947) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164967)

it's real, real simple. the successful OSes have, at their heart, a highly effective "Common Object Model" of some description, which provides a) fully-compliant backwards compatibility across APIs, dating back even 20 years b) interoperability between applications and application components *regardless* of the language they're written in.

every f*****g time i raise this successful strategy - deployed by both microsoft (DCE/RPC and then DCOM) *and* apple (Objective-C has an Object Model built-in to the language) - on free software mailing lists, i get shouted down. i get told "that stuff is a piece of shit, why are you even bothering to mentioning it?"

now, the linux distros are paying the price of that arrogance, why is anyone even surprised?

firefox. firefox has a "COM-like" system which was "inspired" by microsoft's COM. it's called XPCOM. what XPCOM does *not* have is the ability to merge interfaces (they're called "coclasses"). that has two implications:

1) whenever there's a change to an interface, all backwards compatibility is lost. with coclasses you can have *both* the "old" interface as well as the "new" one, supported by the *same* application.

2) if you want to have "default values"... you can't. what XPCOM has to have instead is a highly-dubious modification which adds as an *extra* explicit argument into the actual function saying how many arguments are actually used! imagine if the people who wrote the ANSI-C++ standard said "oh yes, if you want the last arguments of any function call to be optional then the very first argument has to be an integer saying how many parameters there are", there would be people laughing at them for decades.

i've raised this with the mozilla foundation core developers at least twice. the first time i was told by one of the key subcontractors that coclasses were "too complicated" for the mozilla developers to understand. the second time, that person wasn't there: i raised it directly with the mozilla foundation core developers; they didn't understand, took it as personal criticism and then later on enacted very fascist censorship onto the mozilla mailing lists, preventing any further discussion.

so, that subcontractor was indeed right: the concept of coclasses *is* too complicated for the mozilla core developers to comprehend. .... but it's not just the mozilla foundation developers.

the KDE team had an opportunity to replace DCOP with something more substantial, as part of the $10m E.U-grant-sponsored KDE4 redesign: i recommended that they start with FreeDCE and go from there.... and they didn't.

the Gnome team make extensive use of GObject, but GObject is a very very poor substitute for COM. only now with the GObject "Introspection" is it *beginning* to approach the capabilities of COM, but because GObject has no concept of co-classes, *again*, there is no way to have backwards-compatibility for APIs.

i won't even get into what happened with the webkit developers.

the bottom line is that time and time again, in every major engineering team behind each of the major projects which make up "a linux desktop" as we see it, there has been a fundamental failure to comprehend the power of having a strong base on which to create good successful software.

that success - stability of APIs and interoperability between components regardless of programming language - can *only* be achieved by using something like COM, with language bindings for every known major programming language, and support for "co-classes" that are then actually *used* - properly - by the developers.

this takes discipline, and i don't see any of the major free software projects getting this, any time soon.

miguel: i've raised FreeDCE with you, before. i know it was 10 years ago :) however, since then, i've learned that the WINE team have actually gone and made pretty much a complete implementation of both MSRPC *and* COM, including, i believe, a complete server implementation (albeit a basic one). they no longer require the installation of DCOM98.EXE for example which is a good sign. also i heard of a guy who managed to "extract" all that client-server code into a separate project: he called it "TangramCOM".

Re:COM, CORBA, Objective-C (1, Insightful)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165097)

So your complaint is that you don't know x11 messaging and dbus?

Backwards Compatibility. (2)

Robert Zenz (1680268) | more than 2 years ago | (#41164979)

It's the sound of progress, my friend! Do you know who else is great at keeping backwards compatibility? Microsoft Windows...and that system is fucked up right from the ground. Keeping backwards compatibility just to keep software alive is like keeping dirt roads in New York that these people with the horse-wagons still feel comfortable about their horses feet.

Question (1)

Exitar (809068) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165007)

How do you kill that which has no life?

Brian Proffitt? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165009)

Is it another Brian Proffitt's intellectual abortion? I think, I recognize the style...

Oh wow, it is not! But wait, this is the illustrous author of Mono and proud applicant to Microsoft Unix IE team, ex-Novell executive Miguel de Icaza!
(To be fair, some Miguel's work is not nearly as idiotic, and most of stupidity in GNOME happened after he left).

Dead? Don't tell my employer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41165025)

(Taking stock of the dozen Linux workstations at my desk and those of nearby co-workers in one of the larger Fortune 100 companies...)

Perhaps it's just a matter of perspective? My employer goes out of their way to encourage use of Linux as an enterprise development platform (after all, that is the point of Miguel's article, right?). All of the OS X systems I've seen lately have been in the hands of salespeople.. important to be sure, but I think they could get used to any device that handles their presentations and product demos...

...for the rest of us (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165067)

Weiner-dude bytefyucks seem to forget, that RedHat, SUSE, Mandrake and Ubuntu were supposed to be free-OS systems "for the rest of us" ... drooling, howling dawg Debiolians, Slackmolians, LFSrilians and those other mutants for whom tasks_O(n) --> ln(n) were to drift off to the fringes like a pack of rabid auroche-hounds. Too bad -- didn't happen that way. Linux shells remained **EVIL**. Essential simplifications to LINUX admin structure and tools **never** followed the true success of casual installation + update, and a half-dozen crucial **superbly crafted** one-off apps in specialized fields just never happened. Sys-admins slobbered lubriciously in the poisonous juice. Total Linux desktop userbase never really left the 0.87% of market (exclude blips) it reached ten years ago. Now Linux desktop suicides with UBUNTU Unity and RedHat Gnome-3 .

You are somewhat correct and yet not. (3, Informative)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165069)

There was more to it than that. OSX was a serious problem. The Linux community was so wrapped up in competing with Windows for survival that we didn't see OSX coming.

Linux's core APIs don't change as violently as most people say. SDL 1.2 is still SDL, OpenGL is still OpenGL. At the Kernel level, there is resistance to inter-Kernel compatibility to try and prevent unscrupulous vendors from tainting hardware level code. I don't think I have seen a glibc double free error that was not caused by a real bug in the program since 2005/2006.

Package Management boils down to RPM and DEB. And those should be the only two possibilities.

So the core of Linux is like the core of the Earth. It runs, and if you have drivers for it, it's fine. The Surface of Linux is like the surface of the Earth. Utter Pandemonium. KDE and Gnome and it's various tool kits and it's extensions created a situation where endless pandemonium abound. Honestly, they acted like a bunch of 13 year olds playing with Windows 3.1. (If you were 12, or 13, you constantly wanted to re-arrange icons, change the colors, on and on and on. And people got so frustrated such that they didn't want to do it anymore. And moved to OSX.

There needs to be some iron and steel level discipline (with a lower case d) in desktop development. We need to stop creating a situation where everything on the surface is totally different every other version and nobody can find anything.

Another problem is the networking and communication issues with various networking protocols and whatnot. At the command line level, Linux is completely network transparent, even with itself. But the moment you try and utilize desktop level CalDAV Calenders, or Samba shares, it takes a bunch of trial and error to get things working. An example.

Lets say that I have a file on one machine, and I want to get it on another machine via the network. I can of course use Secure shell (SSH) to do that. But what if I want to use Samba to do that. (One Linux box to another Linux box.). because Samba is supported as an overlay by Gnome and KDE. Will it work? Well if I use the command line smbclient yes it will. Under Gnome and KDE, it's a bit more complex. If the Samba Overlay was not installed in Nautilus (Gnome) or Dolphin (KDE), either one of those will throw an error. Additionally, if specific credentials are required to do such a thing, it would require they be setup in KDE or Gnome System Settings before hand. I garuntee you won't know where that Samba mount point is as an ordinary user even if it DOES work.

Another example. This one not involving LibreOffice, KDE, and evolution. We use KDE as the desktop, LibreOffice as the Office Suite and Evolution as E-mail. Why? Well, LibreOffice for obvious reasons is the most compatible Office Suite. Evolution for some rather odd reasons.

1. Evolution is the only Linux Mail and Groupware client that can be autoconfigured from our Open Directory Infrastructure. (LDAP). Only Evolution can get user information from LDAP with reguard to WebDAV, CalDAV, GroupDAV, and IMAP without having to edit it by hand.(like AD does with Microsoft Office and Outlook.)

2. Evolution is the only Groupware Client that can interoperate with eGroupware's iCal based services. in addition to Offsite Outlook Web Services. Thunderbird Lightning, and Kontact technically work, but not as bug free as Evolution does.

So, this creates the following simple problem:

I have users that are used to being able to "edit attachments" under Outlook with real Outlook Servers. (This is a functionality microsoft is getting ready to remove due to numerous security holes in doing this.) but using "Save As" is time consuming, sometimes my users don't know what directory they saved it in etc. So I introduced them to LibreOffice's "Send as E-mail feature." guess what. If you don't go into LibreOffice and over ride the defaults, it launches ThunderBird of Kontact.

Because the UI was "meh" (3, Insightful)

Xenious (24845) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165077)

I promise I'm not trolling. I was very pro Linux as cool new UIs like Enlightenment started coming out. Shortly thereafter OS X really started taking off (albeit fueled by cool hardware design too) and I found that where the Linux UIs were rough and undependable the OS X UI (+look and feel) was sleek, smooth and very polished. On top of that you had all the functionality of the Linux OS underneath it. Aside from a higher cost, it couldn't compete. Temper this with the fact that I'm focusing on client use and not as much on server use.

Where I see the real value of Linux (and Android) is in embedded systems where GUI design may not be as critical.

I would think it's more iOS (1)

Paul Slocum (598127) | more than 2 years ago | (#41165087)

Seems like a big chunk of that 1% would have to come from when they started selling Linux netbooks at Best Buy and it felt like it was beginning to gain traction, but I'm sure that market is out because of tablets. I looked up Linux netbooks on Amazon and they're all out of stock. So in a way, the new Linux desktop battle is fought with Android tablets, which Apple is now trying to kill with lawsuits.
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