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The Linux Desktop Obituary

CmdrTaco posted more than 12 years ago | from the naysayers-and-doompreachers dept.

Linux 553

rcriii writes: "Kevin Reichard is announcing the end of Linux on the desktop over at Linux Planet . Having spent the past couple of weeks fighting with Star Office and Netscape, I'd say that he has a point. Let the flame wars begin." I'm still not sure it was ever born in the first place ... although I happily run Linux on all of my desktops. But I'm not exactly the desktop of corporate America either.

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Farewell Linux... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#205735)

Alas, we hardly knew ye...

I guess we just have to admit it, this guy is right. As a server Linux is awesome, no doubt. As a desktop, it is plagued by many problems. Will I still use it after this? Yes, but can I ever see my mom using it, nope. That's not such a bad thing though. It should probably be only used by the tech elite IMHO.

You know, Taco (5)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#205736)

For someone that runs Linux on all their desktops, you certainly seem to be playing a lot of Windows only games every time a story gets posted.

Exactly (3)

Tim Macinta (1052) | more than 12 years ago | (#205749)

I just ran across this Tech Review article [techreview.com] today which says pretty much the same thing you wrote, except in a more generalized form. It gives several examples of technologies in the past which were extensively hyped and then pronounced dead when the public's short attention span waned, but which eventually went on to achieve their original revolutionary promises (just on a longer timeframe).

I say give Linux on the desktop time - I switched to a 100% Linux desktop about two years ago and I love it. The important thing is that there are people who have switched more recently that wouldn't have bothered two years ago. Every day all the new functionality and useability which is added to Linux makes it a viable desktop for a few more people who have slightly less of a geek threshold than the adopters the day before. Linux on the desktop may be a niche today, but that niche is growing and given time it will eventually be more than a niche. Once it hits critical mass, expect things to explode as the Microsoft tax will no longer buy anything useful (it buys compatibility with other MS users today).

Re:Ridiculous! (2)

ptomblin (1378) | more than 12 years ago | (#205769)

If you want intuitive check out Mac OS.

Ah yes, the OS where you inuitively drag everything to the trash when you never want it to be used again, except for removable media, where dragging it to the trash means "pop it out so I can use it later". And using the "Eject disk" menu item means "pop it out, but then nag me about it not being in the drive incessantly until I put it back in". Yeah, that's intuitive all right.

It comes to this--no unified API (3)

RayChuang (10181) | more than 12 years ago | (#205805)

I am not surprised that Linux is not exactly doing well with desktop installations.

The big problem is that Linux still doesn't have the completely seamless support for hot-docked USB and IEEE-1394 devices, which can cause installation problems for many novice users.

Despite what everyone things about Windows 9x/ME/2000 here, you have to admit that having single unified UI and API makes for a lot easier programming when it comes to writing applications. Besides the issue of seamless automatic configuration, Linux has to contend with two different GUI environments, KDE and GNOME. The question is what company is willing to spend the money to write applications for both GUI's?

And with the arrival of Windows XP Home Edition this fall, many of the issues Linux users have been complaining about are being addressed. With tightened compatibility requirements for full WinXP compatibility certification, every program running in its own distinct memory space, and incorporation of firewall capability, Windows XP will have far highly levels of stability than now and customers will complain far less about system crashes caused by memory leaks.

Linux, in my opinion, is already perfect for the server environment, where kernel-level stability is very important and interface issues are not so important. With the 2.4.3 kernel, Linux now can do the extremely high-volume applications that was once the province of Solaris and OpenBSD boxes, as the recent success of the TPC benchmarks with the 16-CPU SGI server machine shows.

But there is hope for Linux, though. The Linux Standard Base (LSB) project will likely become a central clearinghouse for all kernel and API issues, so everyone will more or less be on the same page when it comes to writing Linux applications. This will dramatically simplify programming issues, and eventually will allow Linux to evolve to the point it can have the same ease of automatic configuration that Windows 9x/ME/2000 now enjoys (for the most part).

Ha! (1)

BJH (11355) | more than 12 years ago | (#205813)

Linux on the desktop may be dead, but you couldn't get its corpse away from me with a crowbar.

ApplixWare (2)

jscott (11965) | more than 12 years ago | (#205815)

I just got Applixware [vistasource.com] 5 in the mail yesterday. It's on sale pretty much everywhere for $49.95 and I must say, it is a welcome replacment for StarOffice.

Linux is NOT dead on the desktop! (1)

Kamelion (12129) | more than 12 years ago | (#205829)

Linux is not dead on the desktop, but it has never led the life many Linux zelots have hoped. This article forgets that there is a subset of society who want their workstation to be running a Unix (or Unix like) OS in the first place. For them Linux is the ideal.

For those who want to run MS Apps, face it, they are unlikely to ever be available for Linux. For those who want to run Quicken, it's not going to happen.

I personally have been Windows free for over a year now at home and work and have no regrets. As a programmer I can do this, how many others can live without Big Bill's omnipotent embrace? Not likely to happen in my life time.

Re:Dead? When was it alive? (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 12 years ago | (#205832)

You can click on .rpm files in any number of file managers and have them do their thing, you know.

I wouldn't waste my time arguing with anyone that starts off with "I don't care if it's better", though - that's so far from the Linux philosophy that never the twain shall meet. I've been fortunate that my wife actually listens (and mostly understands) when I try to explain why I prefer Linux, but I guess that not everyone is so blessed :)

Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

Flip side: the Windows desktop is moribund (2)

sethg (15187) | more than 12 years ago | (#205841)

Apple and Microsoft don't seem to be investing many developer resources in their desktops, either. Yes, they're adding chrome, but it seems like desktop usability and learnability haven't improved much in the past five years.

And why should it? The PC has become so firmly entrenched in corporate America that a large number of people have to learn the interface as it stands, and their feelings about the desktop do not drive OS sales. There are machines being marketed to people who find PCs too hard to learn, but as far as I can tell, those machines have a simplified version of the standard GUI, not a radically new interface.

So the stalwarts who are still working on KDE, GNOME, and GUI apps for Linux have one consolation: an almost stationary target.

World Domination... (2)

maroberts (15852) | more than 12 years ago | (#205842)

According to the article World Domination by any one OS is impossible, but lets face it MS got damn close and it is almost certainly a good thing that Linux is there to stop it. Lets face it, nothing else seems likely to.

Linux does currently have its problems on the desktop, but whilst Word/Excel is my document/spreadsheet of choice, I don't expect the situation to stay that way. If/when KOffice is mature enough to read/write Word documents then I will move over. Then all I have to do is get all my games to run in Linux.

It's not dead. It's just pining. (2)

rde (17364) | more than 12 years ago | (#205849)

So it's not quite there yet, therefore it's dead? Bollocks.
We all agree that linux makes a great server; but was it a great server from the day Linus first made the code available? Nah.
The desktop is far from dead. It may take a little longer, but one pronouncement is not going make all those people working on the various desktops say "well, that's it. Back to windows." They'll continue to work, and some day we'll have a desktop non pareil.

Open Source doesn't adhere to timetables. We'll have a desktop when we have a desktop. Declaring its demise may put that date back a month or two, but it's not going to kill it.

Re:So... what? (2)

Soko (17987) | more than 12 years ago | (#205850)

I'm afraid you've answered your own question.

Those that want to use Linux, use Linux. Those that don't, don't.

So, you've just stated that Linux needs a user base to survive. What if the userbase dwidled to but a handful? How much support/development would Linux get then?
There is no war to win. Linux cannot die as long as there's someone interested in keeping it alive. There's no reason we have to 'win the war for the desktop' today or next week, or next year. There's no endgame where all the scores are tallied and a victor is announced.

You seem to be assuming that the GPL is bulletproof armour for Free Software. It sure seems to be, but what pray tell is protecting the GPL? Without a very substantial userbase, as well as the Buzz that comes by being "the Next Big Thing (TM)", lawmakers may actually start listening to the [slashdot.org] GPLs [slashdot.org] detractors [slashdot.org]. Without the GPL having some weight [ibm.com] behind it, it could be easily short circuited - as in "Yes Mr. Stallman, they used GPL code and didn't re-release it. You get $500.00. Next case!" See what I mean?

(++Linux_users) == (++people_dependant_on_GPL)>(--FUD_directed_at_Fre e _Software)

I for one hope that Linux does become a ubiqitous desktop OS - that will entrench the GPL into the everyday lives of netizens everywhere. That will make it good for business. Good for business means more resources for Free Software. Free Software means the Internet can still be safe for free Speech. Free Speech means the world is better for my children.

The article was absolutely accurate (2)

cartman (18204) | more than 12 years ago | (#205851)

People constantly make arguments about the superior reliability of the Linux OS, especially when compared to NT. Linux has a more reliable _kernel_, but it unquestionably does not have a more reliable gui, or more reliable desktop apps. Gnome with enlightenment has constant glitches, and crashes regularly. My new Red Hat 7.1 installation (Gnome/Sawfish) hangs the entire box within 3 days no matter what box I install it on. Even the Linux mail clients, which are comparatively simple pieces of software, are very much in beta (Balsa & Evolution, for example). The desktop software (diagramming tools, documentation tools, etc) are in an extremely primitive state: development on AbiWord appears to have ceased, and Dia is not even in beta.

The sole redeeming feature is the newest release of Mozilla (0.9), which _is nice._ It has gotten dramatically better. However, this is no vindication of the Open Source development model: Mozilla development is done in a traditional "cathedral" way with a paid, professional development staff.

Aside from that one exception, the Linux desktop environment is vastly inferior to its commercial alternatives (OS X & Windows 2000).

Yes, how truly sad... (2)

PenguinX (18932) | more than 12 years ago | (#205852)

Yes, I saw it coming earlier this year. With IBM pumping (quite literally) billions of dollars into Linux development, and putting "Linux everywhere". What with RedHat turning a profit, and of course what with companies such as Sun and HP promising GNOME on the next major release of their OS. Of course don't forget Loki Entertainment staying alive through the worst of it - and gaining the support of Nokia...

Yes I saw it, the end is coming. There is no economy for Linux on the desktop. Just billions and billions of dollars floating around from corporate giants.

Why do we say this each and every time that something bad happens? It's like chicken little "oh the sky is falling oh the sky is falling". It's not the end, there is too much invested in it now. In fact the number of people I know who run Linux as the desktop of choice has easily doubled since early this year.

Is it the end? Hell no...

Aahhh darn it (1)

Apps (21158) | more than 12 years ago | (#205861)

Ok so if it is dead ...
Does anyone have a copy of Windows that I can use to replace my desktop, I hear that its great ;-)

Ridiculous! (5)

r_newman (40868) | more than 12 years ago | (#205898)

Linux on the desktop is great for those of us who use the full functionality it has to offer, or at least a subset of it.

Your average office user though WANTS Windows. Okay, it may crash quite frequently, but let's face it; it's intuitive, and well-designed aesthetically.

Lets keep working on the desktop for ourselves and if others want to use it, great... But lets not forget where our true strength lies: In the Server market.

I Agree in Some Ways..... (2)

nuintari (47926) | more than 12 years ago | (#205905)

He says that Linux, while fine for us techies, isn't useful for your average computer user. I disagree. Linux is of course, fine for us techies, but its also good for normal users IMHO. Who it isn't good enough for [yet] is the corporate desktop.

Most of the "average" computer users I know want three things, web, email, and tunes. What do we have for that, netscape/mozilla/galleon/konq, for email we have evolution, gtkmail, and a dozen other ones that are pretty good, and for tunes, xmms looks just like a player that everyone who owns a computer knows how to use..... Its fine for your average user. Come on, how many people really need Word? People who do corproate work at their home pc's. Which is where it fails. We still don't have a killer office app, and until we do, this guy will be right.

Linux isn't dead on the desktop, were still just too young to sit up high in the chair. But I think were due for a growth spurt.

And to back up my claim, I got quite a few non-techy friends who I have introduced to linux running ximian gnome who love their "new" computer. They can get on the net, they can send mail, and play their mp3's just fine. Some of them have even taken some initiative and learned to do a little more with their systems. Like learning the command line and shell scripting. Needless to say, they exceeded even my optimistic expectations.

Sadly, I have to agree (3)

hattig (47930) | more than 12 years ago | (#205909)

I have been fighting Gnome, Mozilla and KDE for a week. This resulted in 20 crashes in a morning, followed by a swift reinstall of the OS, no more Mozilla, and sticking with a simple KDE and Konqueror (which is quite a good browser actually, much better than Mozilla).

Now, it makes a killer programming box. emacs, kwrite, etc are great editors for Perl and Java amongst others, and I even got anti-aliasing working on the Voodoo 4500 at home (but not on the ATI at work). KWord and co. still crash far too often. Kmail doesn't grok IMAP. Mozilla is a slug on dope. How can I guarantee a good Word format conversion?

However it is improving. Many Linux distros can install a reasonable desktop from scratch. However, for a lot of things, where are the GUI interfaces? If they exist, they suck in many cases.

Microsoft know about making an easy to use system. Apple moreso. I have no objections to text files for configuration (in fact I encourage it for the obvious reasons), however software installation on Unix is a mess - splattering files all over the place, urgh. Software should install in a single location, in a chroot jail if possible, by default. Think Apple OS X bundles.

The Unix file system is a horror for most non-unix people. /usr? /etc? you what? Apple have hidden this away from the user in Max OS X, and this needs to be done in Unix (or more to the point, KDE and Gnome).

Also, OS updates need to be better and easier for the average user. To update FreeBSD requires that you write a cvsup configuration file, and run cvsup! Don't make a mistake though, or your computer will get knackered.

Still, I remember the days of the Amiga. That was a sensible computer in terms of user friendliness, GUI features, file system and configuration. QNX has also impressed me recently, but it needs to support more hardware.

Final point: As the Unix desktop improves, so does Windows. However, Microsoft may finally shoot themselves in the foot with their licensing. If you don't need to mess with the internals of a Unix system (you get someone else to set it up for you), then things are straightforward (until you buy new hardware) for most people. Click on the pretty icon to run the work processor.

Second Final Word: printing.

Related Links (2)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 12 years ago | (#205912)

* Also by CmdrTaco

It's pretty bad when even the Taco is trollin' Slashdot! What's the deal? Konquorer not doin' it for you anymore? So is X on the desktop dead too?

Slashdotted! (1)

levik (52444) | more than 12 years ago | (#205914)

The site is slashdotted already... That usually happens at around 100 posts :)... Anyone have a mirror URL?

Inertia + trends (2)

n8willis (54297) | more than 12 years ago | (#205917)

As has been commonly noted, the vast majority of people couldn't care less about their OS, they only think about it for a few moments while waiting for their applications to fire up.

With that in mind, consider where Linux applications come from: they can either be written from scratch, or ported from existing software. And frankly, the commercial software stores and catalogs are where most computer buyers find their applications.

(The point of this post, BTW, is to suggest that Linux tends to make big gains from the willingness of Unix software vendors to port. So feel free to stop reading now if you want....)

O.K. So think about this: Linux has at present acheived its greatest penetration in the server arena. At first it had only native software. Then one by one the commercial software vendors in this space (i.e., the database vendors) ported their products to Linux and established it as a heavyweight.

Next down the line from servers: high-end workstations. We're seeing a lot of porting from commercial Unix apps in the graphics arena; every few days some new 3D app or rendering solution gets announced. Partly that has to do with SGI being so gung-ho, but it's made easier by the fact that porting from one Unix clone to another is a simpler task. The scientific stuff is different, since it's wrapped up in academia and government research. But I take the high-end graphics package porting to be a significant event; it follows the same pattern that the server market experienced with Linux.

So, then, where does this trend leave "the desktop?" Well, there aren't currently too many commercial software products on desktop Unix systems because there aren't any desktop Unix systems. To speak of, anyway. But that's about to change. OS X is forcing Adobe, Macromedia and who knows who else to port their apps to Unix (more or less).

The porting trend says when the high-end workstation market is about as Linux-saturated as the server market is now, the dekstop Unix software houses will have the momentum they need to port their stuff to Linux en masse. So, in short, I'm not worried.

Hmm.... It's only just now dawned on me that I didn't use the word "inertia" in this post after all.


Re:a Linux Productivity Suite. (2)

n8willis (54297) | more than 12 years ago | (#205918)

I don't know.... Productivity is pretty cut-and-dried; pretty commoditized. Productivity suites don't get people exited or fired up about their computers.

Brian Proffit responded [linuxplanet.com] in his own Linuxplanet column that just targeting what works for some other system is selling Linux short. Rather than trying to recreate what's working on Windows, the really exiting developments occur when someone decides to make an app that lets people do something totally new.

And I personally believe that the distribution houses could benefit a lot more from pumping developers into nutty cutting-edge projects than into StarOffice or anything that has a "K" tacked uncerimoniously onto the front of its name.

Not that I have some brilliant idea in mind, of course, but in addition to the dozens of productivity-oriented app projects that are out to mimick what everyone in the Windows world already has on their computers, there are forward-looking projects like video editing (ie, Broadcast2000) that are aiming for markets that haven't been commoditized already.

I think Apple has already thought about this. That's why they're focusing on "tomorrow's" killer apps, in media, rather than today's, in documents. So it's not "you should get a Mac; they can do everything a PC can do... but they're not a PC", instead it's "you should get a Mac, they can do all sorts of neat stuff a PC can't do." That wouldn't be a bad thing for people to say about Linux, would it?


Linux is only missing one application... (3)

Colm@TCD (61960) | more than 12 years ago | (#205927)

Let's face it: at the present time there's nothing under Linux that works as well as Microsoft Office. Period.

Ignoring for a moment the intensely irritating "Period", this is by far the most important point made. But even this misses the mark; the problem isn't that "there's nothing as good as Microsoft Office", the problem is that "Microsoft Office doesn't work on Linux". This is the one and only killer application - now and probably for the next five years, only environments which run MS Office have a chance to survive. It doesn't matter that StarOffice and Applix and KOffice are every bit as useful for the majority of users; it doesn't matter that users' attachment to Office is largely irrational (the UI differences between different versions of MS Office are often greater than those between MS Office and StarOffice), and it doesn't matter that MS Office is bloated almost to the point of unusability. The only thing that matters is the perennial question : "Does it run Word?" and until this question can be answered "Yes!" (which presumably means a radically different Microsoft to the one we have now), the gloom will persist.

That said, the sensationalism of the article is completely wrong; there's no "end" in sight, and an actual look-at-the-figures will probably reveal the same slow but steady gains for Linux on the desktop that we've seen over the past eight years. Editorials don't kill operating systems, so everyone just relax...

Seriously... (5)

ryarger (69279) | more than 12 years ago | (#205933)

Let's see:
Linux on the desktop is dead because the desktop applications, in development for 3 years or so, are incomplete and immature.

Linux on the server is alive because the server applications, in development for 6+ years or so, are complete and mature.

So, linux on the desktop is dead. As in, incapabable of life. As in, permanently deceased.

In a couple of years, these applications will still be incomplete and immature... um... why?

Personally, I think Linux on the desktop is in it's infancy, rather than it's deathbed.

So... what? (1)

base10 (69409) | more than 12 years ago | (#205934)

I have to say that I can't see how this affects anyone.

Those that want to use Linux, use Linux. Those that don't, don't.

There is no war to win. Linux cannot die as long as there's someone interested in keeping it alive. There's no reason we have to 'win the war for the desktop' today or next week, or next year. There's no endgame where all the scores are tallied and a victor is announced.

As linux becomes easier for Joe User to get around in and be productive in, it will gain market share. And if it doesn't, it's still a heck of a server platform. It may not be great on the desktop today but in a year? two years? There's nothing to prevent it from being great.

There's no way to 'lose the war' until the product is dead, and there's no way to kill this product. We can't lose as long as we try.


I think this is a little premature... (1)

jmccay (70985) | more than 12 years ago | (#205936)

Most of us already new Linux was not yet ready for the desktop. It was the media pushing Linux as a desktop OS. The rest of us knew it still has work to be done. There is still a chance for Linux to get the desktop market. The community needs to keep plugging away. Microsoft is heading towards paying for software as a service based on use. This shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone.
Linux will stand a big chance of gaining ground on Micrsoft's desktop strangle hold during this time. Linux can do this by offering the users a choice. The apps the we are currently developing would be one choice, and the second would be the web based applicatiions Microsoft provides. That is where they are heading. In this sense, the users will get the best of both worlds.
We need to continue as normal. The media will someitmes like us, and they will sometimes hate us. So what. Life goes on. We'll continue to build roads into the desktop market.
Companies still need to find good methods of incorporating open source methods in to the methods of operations. Some of these companies that closed there doors was because they had no income. You can't have a company with out income. You need something to bring in money from customers on a regular basis.
So, it's business as usual for the Linux community.

I've tried (3)

jason_z28 (73458) | more than 12 years ago | (#205942)

I am a software developer and I tried to push Java as the multi-platform solution. Moving away from the windows C++ world. So I convinced my company to use J2EE. We use EJB on the server side with JSP and Javascript front end. Our goal was to have a multi-platform server side solution and and multi-platform web based client. As we move along, we have to drop more and more Netscape browser versions. They are absolutely horrible to support. They don't respond correctly to a lot of our standard stuff. Has anyone tried version 6? Jeez! We had to drop everything netscape except the 4.7X versions. And we've had to bend to make it work in those versions as well. How are we supposed to make a multiplatform web based client without a decent browser on a Linux\Unix machine? Browser support is lagging.

Dead for what? (2)

selectspec (74651) | more than 12 years ago | (#205944)

Linux has never been a candidate to replace Office+Windows. We all speculate and hope, but the reality is that aint going to happen in at least the next 4 years if ever. However, the Linux desktop will live on in the many other market applications other than Office. How about, Developement, IT management console, Fortune500 Enterprize Appliances (cash registers, airline reservation desktops, other one-offs), etc. Imagine how many linux workstations companies like Verizon, HP, IBM, Motorola, etc have to have for their various development enterprizes. The Linux Desktop is NOT dead. The Linux Office Application is still a ways a way. While we are all rooting for those Open Office developers, we have to recognize that their battle is uphill.

DUH! (3)

Lxy (80823) | more than 12 years ago | (#205953)

legally required rant:
Ok, moderators, are you smoking crack? This is the first post to point out the painfully obvious, moderate him up!

On the serious note, this article fails to support its own title. "Death of the linux desktop" it says, but where was there evidence that it's alive? The beauty of open source is that things don't die. Ever. If someone stops developemnt (Eazel being the obvious), so what? those who use it and want it, keep developing! Where's the problem here?
The other thing that just burned me about the article is the mention of Corel linux failing. First of all, Corel linux was a POS to begin with. I couldn't get the POS installed on 3 different machines. There's no options, so I know I didn't screw anything up. My first install attempt, it didn't even unmount the partitions after install! It fsck'd on my first boot, most of the daemons wouldn't start, the OS was UNUSABLE. I tried installing on a laptop, the res was messed up and it put the "Continue" button off the screen. I couldn't even click the Continue button! I never got past the first screen! Corel linux blew chunks. Lots of them. Take them OUT of the equation!
Linux on the desktop is alive and kicking. This article is just blowing senseless smoke. Mozilla is really starting to look good, Evolution beats the crap out of OutHouse, and Open Office is getting there. Wiritng an article like this is poiintless, you've just reconfirmed what we already know.. the linux desktop needs work. Saying that it's dead... STFU. It's not there yet. Development will continue, and I'm reminded every time I sit at a Windoze machine how truly superior it is.

He's got a great point (1)

oliverk (82803) | more than 12 years ago | (#205956)

The not-quite-earthshattering line sums it all up:

"This has nothing to do with the quality of the desktop environment, but has everything to do with how PCs are actually used: end users don't use the environment, they use applications."

I absolutely agree. I've used KDE quite a bit and I think it's a really nice piece of software. But the user interaction model is ENTIRELY predicated on the notion that I understand the Un*x structure. It basically augments what I already know. But I can easily just drop out to the shell and go from there. My wife? Um. No, that's not going to happen--she's still afraid of her iBook.

The operating system, as a viewable, tangible and interactable device, is dying as well. The original author is dead-on -- users use applications. The other stuff is just getting in the way. What I ultimately want is to have my computer know what I want to do (through a completely abstracted interface) and provide Photoshop when I need it, or Word, or Telnet -- and let me ignore the rest. File structures need to be more liquid than they are now, and users shouldn't have to worry about all of the details of file naming schemes and modifications dates (let alone file extensions - bah!).

Linux on the desktop will succeed only when it stops trying to be "Linux" on the desktop. Instead, it should be a simplified user interface on the desktop, powered by a great OS. Stitch in WINE and maybe some Mac emulators/runtimes (all in hopes of easing the lives of the users) and make it clear and understandable -- then you'll succeed. Until then, it's looking like either a bad ripoff of Windows or a glorious upgrade to GEM.

Re:Ridiculous! (4)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 12 years ago | (#205959)

"it's intuitive, and well-designed aesthetically."

Intuitive? Not really. In Windows 2000 professional, to change network properties, I just click control panel, then network, and select a connection to edit. To alter properties of a disk, I must go into control panel, then administrative tools, then disk management. Such inconsistencies abound in Windows, and are far from intuitive. If you want intuitive check out Mac OS.

As for aesthetics, aesthetics vary wildly. Most Linux distributions come with hundreds of desktop themes, offering a far greater chance that a user will be able to find a pleasing aethetic right out of the box, as compared to Windows where only a few generic options are provided.

Windows has users because of all the software available, which is written for Windows because it is a much more standardized OS (Only one Windows "distribution.") and upgrades are far less frequent than they are for Linux. Only once a standard Linux distro champions itself on the desktop, with only infrequent major changes, can Linux hope to be as viable to an end user as Windows.

Things that Suck (Rambling) (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 12 years ago | (#205969)

I have to admit that Netscape and Staroffice are my least favorite things. Also, I have yet to find an E-Mail client (On any platform) that completely does what I want. Pine comes closest thus far. Netscape needs some IP specific constraints; turn Java/Javascript off for all IP's but these. Konquerer has that sort of thing, if I felt like installing the QT libs for a web browser, though (Doesn't make any less sense than installing the Motif libs for a web browser, right?)

I still do all my documents in LaTeX. GUI word processors uniformly suck. Which is more user friendly? Try explaining to a word processor newbie sometime why when they hit backspace on a paragraph boundry, all the previous paragraph's formatting spilled over into the current one. Do that a couple of times and you'll damn well make them learn LaTeX. Sending me a word file will earn you a kick square in the nuts, too. Convert that fucker to HTML. I know Word can do that. If you can't be bothered, I'll kick you square in the nuts.

Your average user's gonna do what? Browse the web, read E-Mail, and play some games. The main problem I see with Linux as a desktop right now is you can't go down to CompUSA and buy a piece of software. Try to explain to Joe Random User why he can't play Black and White on his computer and you'll damn well force him to use Windows. Note that with Broadband, you could just slap a Loki catalog on his system and work out some way with them to bill his credit card. Then he doesn't even have to go down to the brick and mortar.

Your slightly above average user might also want to do online banking (Which my bank handles via the browser anyway) spreadsheets and document handling. Again, it looks like we got two out of three there. Three, if you want to make 'em use LaTeX, which has been suitable for my needs at least.

Your average Linux user is happy as long as they have (Emacs/Vi, Pick one) and a C compiler on their system anyway. Nevermind the rest of that crap.

So Linux doesn't appeal to every plonker on the planet. It wasn't designed to. At some point a design decision was made not to cater to the room temperature IQ demographic. You really can't fight Microsoft on that territory. Well you can, you just don't really want too, since that lot is also the biggest bunch of whiners on the planet. I did tech support for a couple of years. I know. Ironically Linux can be made to work for those people too, as long as they have a knowledgeable person nearby who can set the system up for them and not give them root access. Sounds like this guy's mistake was he tried to set his system up by himself.

MS is doing a lot for Linux on the desktop (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 12 years ago | (#205974)

...with their new revenue models. As it becomes more and more expensive to run Windows, more and more people will run something else.

i don't buy it (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 12 years ago | (#205976)

You know what? I *refuse* to give Linux as dead for the desktop and go back to Windows just because some dude thinks "nothing under Linux works as well as MS office". I wonder if he ever used StarOffice?

I see a lot of people whining about how Linux is "different" and how they just want to use a particular application, and not some linux equivalent that does the same task. Well, if they don't *WANT* to change, then by all means, don't. There are lots of us who want to change because I'd rather cope with a learning curve for a new app than waste my time watching office crash and Windows blue-screen all day long. I have better things to do with my time.

If fear of change was the issue, we'd all still be using MS-DOS and WordPerfect 5.1.

People who refuse to give Linux a try as a desktop system, just because it's "different", are like people who live in a shack and won't move to a newly built mansion because it's "different" and they need to learn the house's layout, paint the walls and buy furniture. But guess what: people actually *do* that.

I think the article is a bit too pessimistic. And I, for one, will also take a stand and refuse to listen to any arguments. But the stand I choose to take (cuz it's really all about choice) is to stick to Linux. I've stopped needing Windows to do any actual work a long time ago.

WHAT? (2)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 12 years ago | (#205977)

have you really *really* tried doing what you say? does setting up a Windows client take 3-4 days? how long does it take for you to set up a linux client? I can do it in minutes (around 50). And unless your hardware configuration is truly exotic, there's no need to recompile and fiddle; things usually work right out of the box.

I also contend your implications that Win2k is more stable than Linux. Back that fact up with some hard data; give me a Win2k server that can match my record 400-day uptime under linux. Also, a default Linux installation is far more secure than a Win2k one this day.

The comment that Alphas are "dead" is worthy of a true troll so we're not even going to get there.

When was the last time you actually used a Linux system? a "prompt"? did you get the news that Linux has graphical logins these days? Anyway, any user with a clue is smart enough to follow the instructions "give login and password, and then type startx at the prompt". I mean, your users *Can* type, can't they?

Finally, trying to diss Linux as a server system is plain dumb. Say what you will, but every statistic available on server operating systems proves you wrong regardins Linux as a server.

Latest victim of a SDDDOS attack. (1)

skrowl (100307) | more than 12 years ago | (#205982)

22 may 12:33 PM EST, clicking on the link gives this-
"Unable to connect to the database. Please email"

Another website falls victim to a SDDDOS (SlashDot Distributed Denial Of Service) attack.

Says their admin-
"Lets check our logs... 5,000 hits sunday... 4,800 on monday... not bad... WTF!! 2,841,182 hits in THREE HOURS on Tuesday?!"
Remember, not all /. users hate Windows or think Microsoft is out to get them!

Re:Ridiculous! (4)

Deadbolt (102078) | more than 12 years ago | (#205983)

Your average office user though WANTS Windows.

Office users - the ones I work with and don't know their asses from a hole in the ground - don't *want* Windows. They just want to read their email and surf the Web. They get mad when it breaks, but they could personally care less. They use Windows because it's what tech support will help them with and because they need to read Word docs. If the directive came from on high that we'd migrate to KDE by the end of third quarter, no one would stand up and vigorously fight the loss of his beloved Windows.

Okay, it may crash quite frequently, but let's face it; it's intuitive, and well-designed aesthetically.

Well, um, yes and no. See, if you use the same thing for long enough, your brain adapts to its features, bugs, and quirks, be it software, a car, or a favorite pen. After a month of using a particular GUI, it becomes intuitive to you since you've changed your thought process to better use it. As for aesthetics, try to imagine how many users use the default Windows theme and compare that number with the ones who customize.

Put someone in front of KDE or Ximian and force them to use only it for a month. They'll be as proficient with it as they are currently with Windows. And when they see the power and the non-crash feature, they'll never want to use Windows again.

Oh, and releasing the newest games for GNU/Linux couldn't hurt either.

I'm not dead yet.... (2)

scotch (102596) | more than 12 years ago | (#205984)

This article reminds me of a certain scene in a Monty Python movie. The desktop is no more dead than is has ever been. There are probably more people using Linux as a desktop and developing desktop capabilities today than say a year ago. Of course, I can't back that up with any numbers except personal experience in my place of work.

Re:Ridiculous! (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 12 years ago | (#205985)

In Windows 2000 professional, to change network properties, I just click control panel, then network, and select a connection to edit.
Wow, immagine that, network settings being under the network controll panel, I never would have looked there. That's a very intuitive design, placing things that controll the computer inside the controll panels. Compare that to linux where you have to manually edit text files in god-knows-what directory. Figure out how to compile a network driver if I have a non-standard card. Figure out how to load the network module. Edit the startup scripts to load the module on startup. Yeah, that's much more intuitive.

=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\

Giving up quickly (1)

Zuul (103907) | more than 12 years ago | (#205988)

That was quick.. what about Mac OSX. If it's in some way ported to linuxi wouldn't quite say Linux can't make a good desktop.. Personally i say give it a chance... Yes, it's not doing well now on many points.. that is porb why I am running windows, but if it keeps developing, with that speed, i might just switch some day soon.

Except... (3)

The_Messenger (110966) | more than 12 years ago | (#205998)

I'm still not sure it was ever born in the first place ... although I happily run Linux on all of my desktops.
Except, of course, for the Windows box that enables you to play the games (The Sims, Diablo 2) you so dearly love.


Re:Ridiculous! (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 12 years ago | (#206010)

Put someone in front of KDE or Ximian and force them to use only it for a month. They'll be as proficient with it as they are currently with Windows. And when they see the power and the non-crash feature, they'll never want to use Windows again.

This is true except for one MAJOR thing. The windows interface is very consistant. Every app has the same menu's and the same commands and they all look exactly the same. In windows there are almost no user configurable options for look or operation of the OS. Its much easier to learn an OS and the applications in it if they are always the same. You can learn one thing and be able to use it in every application you ever see on the system. You will also be able to go to your neighbors house and know exactly what things will look like and how they will operate.

With linux the great power and draw is that you can set up the system exactly the way you want to. You can also pick apps that work in the way you think. This is all good but for the general person this makes the learning curve much much higher.

I won't even get in to hardware or system configuration issues under linux but I think you get my point. Linux needs to be shaped and polished if it ever wants to be a true consumer desktop OS and personally I think trying to bring linux in to that arena will ruin what good attributes it posesses.

Re:Linux desktop was NEVER ALIVE in the first plac (1)

dorward (129628) | more than 12 years ago | (#206022)

Due to the arrogant 31337 linux hackers disregard for market realities Linux on the desktop has never become reality.
31337 hackers are not the driving force behind Linux. Most of the people driving it forward are actually quite sane and can use language without feeling the need to substitute numbers for letters. Much of the developement behind Linux is along the lines of "I want it to do this so I'll make it do it." Developement of tools for the everyday user isn't driven forward so quickly, although there are efforts being made purely to make life easier for the new user as well as commercial ventures which target that market. These are failing as part of the slow down of the entire tech industry, not becuase they are not any good.
From the cryptic command line tools like awk and sed, the smelly undisciplined communist and hippy advocates who practice various 'alternative' sexualities, through to the abysmal support for de-facto standards such as DirectX and XML, Linux is a walking disaster area as far as the non tech-savvy user is concerned. It is a Marketing man's NIGHTMARE.
I've never needed to use sed or awk, although I have dabbled with Perl and use Emacs frequently. DirectX is not a defacto standard, its a Windows API. XML is not a defacto standard, it is an official standard, and I see less Windows implementation then Linux implementation. As for the personal hygine and sexual prferences of some of the people behind Linux... I don't see any adverts saying "Use Windows, Bill Gates uses soap and is straight!".

desktop domina? (1)

s_n (132651) | more than 12 years ago | (#206025)

well.. i don't know if the goal is to first have every corporate ms-office-user switched, or - world domination - have every other user switched to linux.

linux will thrive, because it's free in every sense. and appropriate applications with appropriate user-interfaces will outrun - in numbers of users and devices not in revenue maybe - closed operating systems. can you say "embeded" or "asia, the east, south america, africa and the rest of the world" or "consumer device".

yup. time will tell.


My 2 cents (5)

antis0c (133550) | more than 12 years ago | (#206026)

Unfortunately due to the /. effect I can't read the article.. But I've always had discussions with coworkers on this topic.. Linux has yet to be a user-friendly desktop. And it probably won't be for at least another year. Sure its the desktop of choice for geeks and techheads alike, but imagine installing a fresh copy of Debian on a Pentium, and giving it to your grandmother? Unless you've done a really good job of making sure everything is working, and you show her how to use things, where is she going to start?

Obviously she can't call the guys at GNOME for customer support, or the guys at KDE to ask why Konqueror isn't rending a webpage properly. It these things that are preventing it from being a true workstation for the masses.

Not only that, Linux tries to mix Server and Workstation too much.. Once again, the average geek will like this, but most people don't care if they have a telnet server running, in fact its a huge security risk for the average home user.. Considering he'll probably be storing webpage passwords on his machine.. Then there is lack of a good Web Browser, although this will soon be a thing of the past, as I've been using Konqueror myself for months without a problem.. But Netscape bundled by default is horrible.. And then the one topic that is keeping it from being on every machine, is games.. Loki is doing a good job trying to fix that, but even I had trouble getting Quake 3 running properly with a PII 450 and a Voodoo3, It was slow as hell, despite talking with reps at Loki on which Mesa libraries to use and install, only to get a "Well we don't really know" answer.

Then the common answer for people that are struggling with Linux and always asking questions is "RTFM", well guess what, there are people out there that don't want to learn about a computer, but just use it. And futher more, I doubt this person has a book on GNOME, and people trying to learn GNOME aren't going to know GNOME has built in documentation, or what the f*ck is a manpage. I can say the same thing, I don't care about how my Microwave or Toaster works internally, but when I put in leftovers or bread, I expect them to be heated and toasted..

Thats the only thing I give Windows, I can install it for my parents, show them the icon for IE, put a few games on for my Dad, show him the icons, show my mom the "Word" icon, and how to print, and they're set, happy and have little problems.. I only need to teach them when blue screens pop up, or things lock up, press the reset button and start over. .. and don't get me started in printing in Linux.. sigh.

rhetoric burying the substance (2)

startled (144833) | more than 12 years ago | (#206037)

All this article says, under all the overblown, sensationalist statements, can be reduced to one sentence buried halfway into the article: "But as it stands Linux on the desktop is not an entity that is usable by the average PC user when it comes to accomplishing their daily work.". That's a statement that most of us would agree with-- but most of us wouldn't bother to click over to and read.

So what we get is a bunch of flamebait surrounding a state of affairs that reporters have been covering for years. Here's an example of the senseless rhetoric: "Such is the way of all movements: either the professionals take over and the movement evolves, or the movement recedes." Wow. That would've been cut from Catch-22 for being too absurd.

Now, am I saying that everything on the Linux desktop is great? Of course not. The fact that this is essentially identical to articles about Linux two or three years ago should be of concern to anyone who wants Linux on more desktops. A lot of the software still isn't quite there. Mozilla isn't quite finished. A lot of lower-profile tools also aren't quite finished, or not polished yet. So a better question (and one this reporter completely fails to ask) is: is this a natural and expected development cycle for new and useful tools, or is there some inherent obstacle holding back these tools?

Dead? When was it alive? (5)

ellem (147712) | more than 12 years ago | (#206051)

--I have Linux on almost all of my machines. I have one purely WIN box in my house and my wife uses that.

--It started with, "I don't care if it's better, I can't run Quicken. I don't want to run something as good as Quicken I want to run Quicken. I can barely see the words in Netscape. Why can't I play The Sims on it? Nothing works. I want Office, I hate Star Office it is ugly. Dell says they can't help me becuase the machine came with Windows 98."

--I gave up after that. She's not a stupid user either. She's a power user for the NT set. She just wants things to work as expected. tar -xvf doesn't make her happy. She like to click on .zip files and have them do their job.

--I love Linux and tweaking and such but guess what I can't play NASCAR 4 on it.

--Linux never stood much of a chance


It'd be nice if Linux was given a chance first. (1)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 12 years ago | (#206061)

How many popular commercial software packages have been put together or sold for Linux that weren't half-assed versions of their Windows counterparts? Quake? Java? (I guess I like Loki's work, too.) If you sit a user in front of a Windows system and a Linux system each loaded with office-type platforms like Corel Wordperfect, Netscape, and ICQ (Linux still gets the crappy experimental Java version, right?), said user is going to be pretty disappointed with the Linux offering. Few commercial vendors are willing to take Linux seriously, and will only offer support for Windows versions of their software. It's pretty depressing to watch their half-hearted attempts to drag a fishhook with cheap bait on it through the Linux community and just pack up and call it a failure when no one bites.

Still, StarOffice has worked as well for me as a word processor as Microsoft Word does (frequent crashes). The GIMP has worked better for me than any paint package I can afford and it lets me script, too. Between Netscape and Konqueror I can visit most worthwhile websites. I'd hardly call my setup dead. The fact that a desktop this functional can be cobbled together on a budget might even mean the quick revival of the Linux desktop once commercial software licenses become easier to verify.


Linux is still not out (1)

tyrann98 (161653) | more than 12 years ago | (#206068)

While the death of Eazel and the shuffle at Mandrake could slow down GUI development, it won't stop it. There are enough users and programmers out there that are satisfied and happy enough with Linux to continue using it. A critical mass of users and programmers exist already to continue to work on Linux. These people will continue developing apps and interfaces for Linux - the only problem is time. I believe it will take at least 4-5 years for Linux to be ready for the desktop. With Linux you have freedom, and with commercial apps they have money. And that money can make incredible things happen (like OS X - the only Unix for the masses out there) in a far shorter timeframe.

Re:Linux was never a desktop OS to begin with... (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 12 years ago | (#206080)

I can relate. I work with 4 different Linux boxes at work, and I operate all of them via SSH using my Mac.

While the multiple virtual displays of Gnome & KDE are big favorites of Linux Desktop cheerleaders, I'll take a bash prompt over either GUI any day.

YMMV, of course. If you like Gnome, use it and be happy. It's got a lot of spiffy features, once you get used to it, and it does have the potential to get better, if developers stick with it.

Enough already. Religious wars about operating systems are sooooo 90's. Let's all get with the 00's

Re:Seriously... (3)

Golias (176380) | more than 12 years ago | (#206082)

A rising sun, a setting sun... either way, it's still dusk right now.

This clown was utterly wrong to pronounce Linux on the desktop to be "dead", but he was clearly just trolling to sell more magazines and/or web hits. Let's move on, shall we?

Re:Umm...OSX is an OS (3)

Golias (176380) | more than 12 years ago | (#206083)

Perhaps you meant Linux needs more configuration tools and such with GUIs, which would reduce the amount of time spent at the command line.

Personally, I've found that the Linux GUI's have lots of configuration options... it's just a royal pain in the ass to find them.

It is a common site to see a rookie Linux admin sifting through menus looking for one config app or another, only to give up after 10 minutes and run the CLI version of it.

Almost every aspect of Gnome or KDE can be tweaked to your taste, which is a good thing I guess, but the default layout of all the menus and tools is so bizzare and byzantine that it boggles the mind. It almost looks like it was designed by a huge assortment of different programmers... oh wait... it was, wasn't it? [ducks under the rotten cabbages]

I don't think the Linux GUI is a lost cause. I'm sure that more logical structures will fall into place once the dust begins to settle. Besides, some people actually like it, just the way it is. Not me, but some people.

Then there is the famous third-button pasting... Some geeks would die before giving that up.

Personally, on the rare occations when I am actually sitting in front of a Linux box (instead of hitting it remotely), I tend to go to the command line and stay there.

Re:Yes and no (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 12 years ago | (#206085)

Actually, this is one of the few times that a journalist hits the nail right on the head.

Not only is the Unix desktop dead, it was stillborn. Windows has a truly awesome GUI and high-quality browser which is unmatched anywhere.

Enlightenment, KDE, GNOME, etc just don't function well enough to ever be a real desktop contender.

Instead of wasting time making Linux as bloated as Windows, we should be improving the server-side features of Linux and increasing performance.

God help my karma for saying this; but Linux is in a real crisis right now. This is merely the first Linux failure.

The bleating of anti-intellectual property fanatics has really attached itself to Linux. This, combined with the failures of dozens of all-Linux companies have seriously damaged Linux's reputation.

Re:But but but... (1)

Nasheer (179086) | more than 12 years ago | (#206087)

Indeed, Linux can't die, but is death the worst end? As immortal, Linux can still fall into oblivion as a zoombie: anyone said OS/2?

An OS that refuses to die, nor leaves the ICU, looks a very worse ending than a swift, elegant and remarkable death

I really don't believe in what this article says, although the death of Eazel was a great rollback, but KDE keeps going strong.

a Linux Productivity Suite. (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#206090)

What this means to me is that, in order for Linux to succeed on the desktop, there has to be the equivalent and appropriate amount of effort put into an Office slash productivity suite. Think of all of the man hours put into Linux. Now imagine an equivalent amount of time put into a linux productivity suite. (regardless of if it is KDE Office, Star Office, or whatever.)

This is what is really needed. Unfortunately, the open source community has been diversified and splintered about this. And so this equivalent amount of effort, enough to match the results of something like a MS, has not taken place. This is observable even in projects that have a large amount of community support, such as Mozilla. The raw number of people has been one half or one third it could have been to really get it out in a "timely" manner, resulting in Netscape 6 being beta-ware in fact if not in name.

I happen to think that Linux can make it to the desktop, but that the core applications need to get there too. Otherwise it remains a developers tool set.

The amount of effort that has gone into the OS has to go into the productivity suite.

Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

What a bunch of whiners! (1)

hal200 (181875) | more than 12 years ago | (#206091)

Jeez, ppl! Grab a spine already! "Linux doesn't have Office, so it will never beat MS on the desktop. Boo hoo!" Get over it. The Linux desktop is still in it's infancy...for those of you who remember Windows 3.1, consider how long it took MS to get to THAT point, let alone to Win2K...

Point is, they've been doing this for a hell of a lot longer than we have...Sure StarOffice isn't the best office suite on the planet, but it's pretty damned good...give it time, it will mature. (and frankly, it's formula editor is beautiful...Office2K's is unusable).

The same is true for pretty much all the other apps mentioned in the article...give them time. Linux isn't ready to be a mainstream desktop today, but that doesn't mean it will never be.

Good things come to those who wait...and better things come to those who get off their lazy asses and contribute code...

Mark Twain (1)

tomknight (190939) | more than 12 years ago | (#206099)

Just remember his response:

The report of my death was an exaggeration

Shall we wait and see?


Probably not dead (and so what if it is?) (2)

Gingko (195226) | more than 12 years ago | (#206105)

The article seems a little contradictory, saying that the Linux desktop is entirely dead, but still saying that enthusiasts will continue to work on it. To my mind, continued work on something implies that it's probably not dead.

However, I agree with a lot of the rest of the article. Linux is a superb server platform as far as I can tell. I don't know about truly industrial strength applications since I've never used it that way, but just for setting up a web server, firewall, mail server, QuakeWorld server it rocks. But for desktop productivity... eww. The window managers are slow and clunky (Sawfish is the best that I've found, but that takes an age to start), most of the applications are flakey in a random way that I don't see on Windows - right now the Gnome File Manager keeps telling me that there's no response to a save yourself command, and would I like to remove it? Clicking yes does absolutely nothing. Sure loads of Windows applications crash, but they crash, and stay dead. I can get rid of them. (even kill -9 doesn't seem to work properly). And don't even get me started on the productivity software...

It all comes down to using the right tools for the job. Linux does a great deal of server work for me in the networks I am involved with, Windows does a lot of the desktop work. Even if the Linux desktop is dead (and I don't think it is, it just needs improving) that's not really that big a deal for Linux.


Desktop presense still needed (1)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 12 years ago | (#206112)

Merely competing well in a server environment is likely to be the downfall of any operating system. As much as they need applications and robustness for their suitable purposes, OSes need two things: Exposure and interoperability with the desktop.

Exposure is that intangible need for people in decision-making positions, who, even if they are the ones with the best technical expertise, still only know what they know (if you know what I mean...). MS has exposure, and works very hard - through advertisement, certification and partnerships - to maintain and grow that exposure. But more than those efforts, MS is on damned near every desktop. If you're an MCSE, everyone in your business at least thinks they have a clue as to what that means.

Linux, Sun and AIX have exposure too, of course, but there is much less momentum for their maintaining that exposure. If you doubt this, just ask around among your technical brethern to see who all has worked on a VMS system recently (or ever), or who has done work in Prolog (a fabulous logic-processing language with interfaces to C++ for those non-specialised apps). If these technologies are dying, is is most certainly not from being ill-suited to their task - it's because they're less and less known.

One very easy way to maintain exposure is to maintain some presense on the desktop. Both Solarus and Linux are viable desktop solutions, and even if not everyone in one's office uses them, they can know that they're used and have some understanding of what the people who admin them are all about. The more the office in general realises what technology is being used, the more management realises it, and the less likely it is to be tossed aside because some PHB never heard of it (whatever "reasons" are put forth for such a decision).

Compliance with the desktop is also critical for the server market. It has long been understood - and at times even admitted by some MS people - that control of the desktop can be parlayed into control of the servers. That this is a strategy at MS - and a damned good one - isn't in doubt. Any of the studies showing how well IIS serves up pages to IE (the number one web browser) confirm it. If Linux and Solarus drop off our desktops forever, businesses would be harder and harder pressed to justify them on servers. The shifting of the desktop environment ever-so-slightly away from the standards of communication used by everyone else would eventually make MSes server OSes the only viable choise, because for the task at hand - coordinating, supporting, and serving for MS clients - they would be the best choice. Only by maintaining as much as possible of the business desktop world off of MS Windows can that be averted. When even 5% of business desktops aren't Windows, businesses have to take those into account.

While it may ultimately be true that the Linux Desktop is dead (or, I suppose, is stillborn), I cannot agree with the author's conclusion that this is an OK thing for Linux. If the desktop is dead, the server will follow.

Re:Flip side: the Windows desktop is moribund (1)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 12 years ago | (#206113)

While I suppose one could argue that Apple hasn't significantly changed or improved the interface of MacOS with OS-X, they were somewhat busy re-writing the whole thing. And your claim is ridiculous with regard to Microsoft. Windows XP is a rather radical shift, interface-wise, from the Win95 paradigm (which, of course, was at least a significant shift in many ways from the Win 3.11 paradigm).

Informative??? (1)

MacGabhain (198888) | more than 12 years ago | (#206114)

Yo! Moderators! When someone writes that CompUSA is a wonderful place with great prices, THEY'RE TROLLING. Sheesh!

No accountability (1)

jchristopher (198929) | more than 12 years ago | (#206115)

I don't think there's any denying that Linux isn't ready for the desktop.

The question is, why? Why hasn't it happened? I think one of the big reasons is user friendliness.

Is it possible that the vast majority of people developing Linux are programmers, and very few are writers, artists, designers (user interface people)? Since it's built by programmers, it suits them just fine, but others struggle with Linux because little emphasis is placed on usability. Programmers are accountable only to other programmers.

How do you solve this problem? User interface people are accustomed to getting paid for their work, and seem unlikely (to me) to work on the UI and documentation for Linux for free.

Perhaps one of the larger companies, Redhat for example, could hire some usability people that could contribute. For example, when the Macintosh was created, there was a significant amount of time/money spent on design and usability. Will that ever happen for Linux?

Maybe Microsoft will listen and go away (1)

dropdead (201019) | more than 12 years ago | (#206119)

We need Micorsoft to hear this and leave Linux alone. Linux will make it to the desktop eventually but it will take the same route it always has, from the ground up. Appealing to the fickle average consumer is an expensive game that is usaully won with money. Most people have noticed that Linux and open source is growing every where but the desktop.
Let's wait untill all that is left is the desktop. Won't it be nice when people ask is my desktop compatible with(insert device her) rather than the other way around. Then we will have won.

What the article failed to mention (5)

phaze3000 (204500) | more than 12 years ago | (#206122)

Was KDE. [kde.org] Eazel may be dead, but KDE continues to get better and better. Konqueror is arguably the best browser on any platform (and is at least as good as MSIE), and yet is still a relativly new project. KOffice [koffice.org] is coming along in leaps and bounds, and given that the KDE team were able to make a Mozilla-beater in far less time, *from scratch* (Mozilla is based on pre-existing NS code remember), I have high hopes. It's already extremely useable for day-to-day tasks, and above all is quick.
I continue to use AbiWord for its MS Word importing features.
Linux isn't dead on the desktop, you just need to look in the right places.


I've been saying this for a while (1)

Codeswallop (208940) | more than 12 years ago | (#206124)

Not that Slashdot chose to report it.

Here's an article I wrote on the subject:

According to the open source movement [this article is concerned with open source, not free software (although free software certainly shares some of the funding problems), to clear up any ambiguity], considering a piece of software someone has written, one should not use it unless one has the source code. The reasoning is that if one
has a problem with it, one cannot resolve the issue without outside help. As far as I can see, although this is certainly a distinct advantage for say Google, who with a staff
of highly trained engineers could easily tweak the Linux or BSD kernel to suit their requirements, its advantages in ensuring quality and reliability are far from assured. For
example, in propounding the open source solution in John Goerzen's paper [complete.org] on the ethics of free [open source] software he says [complete.org] that the
famous case of the USS Yorktown, that the 'problem behind all this is proprietary software'.

This claim is one that Mr. Goerzen fails to adequately establish. His arguments can be summarized as follows:

  • lack of peer review means that closed source software is intrinsically untrustworthy
  • the 'fact' that closed source means knowledge is not shared, something he says is unethical

By contrast he argues that from utilitarian grounds open source is better insofar as it tends to maximize the sum total of happiness, and, most specifically that 'free software is the most beneficial for the greatest number of people.'

To consider his first argument, namely that the absence of peer review makes closed source software untrustworthy, I would argue that in fact peer review is *more* rather than less
common with closed source software. To take an example, Microsoft operating systems typically spend upwards of a year in external testing, whereas open source software tends to follow Eric Raymonds's famous
Bazaar principle, where software is released little and often. The difference between the two can easily be seen. Anyone who used an open source OS and GUI environment, simply by
clicking through each option. In my experience there would also be a considerable number of software crashes.

There are a number of reasons for this as I see it:

  • lack of money

    Since the open source movement is associated with software that is without price, there is little money to fund fulltime programmers, marketing to attract new people to the project,
    or commercial testing.

  • lack of direction (i.e. the ability to be able to say: 'Right, you get that bit done or you're fired')

For example, let us consider one of the top open source games, Freeciv, and its nearest commercial competitor, which is probably Alpha Centauri. In the making of Alpha Centauri, the software house would work something like this:

'We need x programmers, x video guys, and x voiceover artists.'

They will then hire those staff and the product will be produced. By contrast, the free equivalent [freeciv.org] works on a haphazard basis whereby that which is produced is determined by those people who happen to volunteer for the project.

Thus Freeciv is without any sound effects, video, etc., and also has inferior graphics, all of which detract from one's enjoyment of the game (not to mention that it exhibits one of the major problems with open source, namely lack of innovation). Indeed it is my contention that open source is a fundamentally incorrect model for software aimed at the consumer.

Characteristics of the consumer:

  • little or no programming knowledge (and therefore the so-called advantage of having the source code is no such thing)

  • low tolerance of technology for its own sake

  • little understanding of computers

For them, open source software holds no benefits compared to the leading commercial equivalents from Microsft and Apple. As such, the consumer Linux distributions I believe are
doomed. The problems are:

  • insufficient funding. Open source businesses typically depend on business models that stand no chance of ever making any money. Because of the mistaken believe that making money
    out of software is somehow immoral (a bizarre belief, considering that everyone must make money to survive), they rely on 'donations', on selling services, and on limited and voluntary sales
    of products they could download for free. Although to a certain extent the market has wised up to this, as seen by the fact that Corel's Linux division was sold for a miserly £5million,
    I still believe that businesses like thekompany.com, and Nautilus, which rely on selling vague services or on giving the core product and charging for addons, it still persists.

    It is unfortunate for open source that this socialist tendency persists so much - Microsoft would not be able to afford produce the world's best word processor if they had given
    Word away and just charged for the thesaurus.

    Still further, the belief that making money out of software is somehow damaging is fundamentally misconceived. While closed source software has grown up, so to has the economy -
    high software spending is a *good* thing, not bad.

    The massive growth in the economy has been fueled by commercial companies making money, whereas open source ultimately aims at making all software 'free', which would undoubtedly be harmful.

  • inadequate product - whereas commercial companies such as Microsoft have armies of people employed in usability testing, the fact, as explained above, that open source can *never* match
    the resources of closed source means that the product will never be as advanced or as easy to use as the paid-for alternative [note that there are certain circumstances where open source can compete].

    The common reply to this is that absence of resources is not an impediment, since open source depends on volunteers, but this makes the fundamental assumption that there are enough
    people who would rather make software for free than make money making commercial software.


  • the pool of volunteers or the quantity of their free time will never be large enough to build a 'complete' open source software ensemble
  • as explained above, commercial companies producing open source are not typically viable, and so do not have anything like the resources of the commercial sector with which to compete.
  • the lack of money and commercial incentive means that open source produces very little innovation, and so is always playing catchup

Having, I believe, debunked the myth that open source can ever produce a sustainable and complete consumer software ensemble, I return to one of the first arguments made, namely that
closed source impairs does not allow people to learn.

This is a very flimsy argument, and I would in fact argue the reverse - at present colleges and learning schemes are heavily funded by profit-making businesses, but if open source succeeded
these businesses would be redundant, which would in fact cause even greater damage to learning since this funding would stop.

Furthermore, the net result of this would be that people would be discourage from software production as a career, since it would no longer represent a profitable career path, and so they
would probably pursue a career as a doctor or a lawyer. This would be a great loss to the nation, since the quality of software would decline, as highly intelligent students
would go elsewhere.

In conclusion, I'm not arguing necessarily that open source is always necessarily inappropriate, but rather that for consumer software it certainly is.

In more specific cases, it might present a useful solution - for example, for high-end military applications or servers maintained by experts there are certainly advantages to
an open system; however, these cases are relatively restricted - since I see little commercial potential in free software, these have to return to the roots of open source - to
the limited number of highly dedicated hackers producing a small range of software (such as Unix kernels). It is here that there can be union between the two opposites - a movement
that believes in free software, and those who make money out of it. Thus OSX represents a good example of the sort of project open source is ideally suited for - a defined Unix kernel
is the ideal project for open source, in that it requires relatively few resources other than programmer time.

Huh? (2)

update() (217397) | more than 12 years ago | (#206131)

Geez, I wasn't going to complain about one downward moderation, or even two, but how did I manage to get three for that? Is there another global moderation screwup? Not that the Slashdot editors would ever let us know but a glance at the troll sites doesn't indicate anything unususal happening.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

Re:Ridiculous! (1)

cfadam (220860) | more than 12 years ago | (#206136)

Well, the majority of tools to edit your system are under control panel. Once you figure that out, it is fairly intuitive. If you still feel confused by all that clicking learn how to run Windows from the command line. You will never see Control Panel again for networking and starting/stopping tasks, etc.
The pig is in the poke, I repeat, the pig is in the poke

X11 needs to go (1)

Arethan (223197) | more than 12 years ago | (#206138)

I've been advocating this for quite a while now.
X11 just isn't cutting it these days. Sure, it has it's advantages, but what Linux could really use it a complete makover as far as GUI environments is concerned.

Believe it or not, Windows really does have a pretty good window message protocol in place. And the GDI drawing routines really aren't all that slow.

The real goal would be to produce a replacement for X that allowed the use of drivers much like Windows does. This way the environment could be recompiled for any platform, and contributers would only need to install (or create) drivers for the specific hardware they have. (Kind of like how X has different X servers for each video chipset.) Of course, this replacement would have to support previous X applications by running an X server for applications to communicate with. However display and manipulation of these applications would be seemless with native applications. (They would share the same desktop space and could overlap, etc.)

I've been toying with the idea of starting up a project on sourceforge to facilitate the replacement desktop, but my extraordinarily long commute time eats up 90% of my day. So I have no time to work on it. Of course, this could all change, but who knows.

I'm open to comments on the whole idea.

How about a comparison? (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 12 years ago | (#206142)

How long did it take for Windows to gain wide-spread, relatively problem-free acceptance on the desktop? 5 years? 10? I think this death knell is a little premature.

Ok : let's face facts now! (1)

joestar (225875) | more than 12 years ago | (#206146)

I'm running a small company in Europe (music records & music on the net). In our offices we have 4 PCs in Intranet, with a DSL link to Internet. We do email with Netscape-mail, maillings with StarOffice or Abiword, financial projections with StarOffice, web editing with several tools, graphics creation with the Gimp and others. Also we have a local webserver that was very easy to install. Also we have NFS mounts through the Intranet. And we watch and listen tons of MP3s and .ram videos on the net.

It was very easy to set up, it is extremely cheap (we just bought a Pack in a store). And this is extremely reliable and fast to use.

We have 3 PCs with Mandrake 7.2 and one in dual-boot Mandrake 7.2/Win 98. The win98 is only here for accounting and for checking that some of our webpages look good with Exploder. I think in the long term we can remove Windows completely.

OS/2... (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 12 years ago | (#206150)

...is also dead on the desktop.

That doesn't stop me from using it to get real work done, as opposed to fighting with my computer to make it do what I want, the way I want to do it.

Same goes for linux. You simply don't have the level of flexibility in windoze or MacOS required to do real work the way you want to do it quickly.

The OS/2 and Linux environments I use are flexible and allow me to quickly write little tools to handle a specific repetitive task with minimal effort. And there are spreadsheets and word processors as well, for the very very rare times I need them.

Let the windoze users go on in blissful ignorance. I'm 10x (at least) more productive in my linux and OS/2 desktop environments, as "dead" as they may be.

This is old news (4)

StarTux (230379) | more than 12 years ago | (#206152)

Been there, done that over on linuxtoday and linuxplanet.

You will get this on slashdot tomorrow, so I am might as well post it now. Brian Proffit's rebuttal is here:

http://linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2001- 05 -22-006-20-OP-DT

Original article is here:

http://www.linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/opinions/ 33 92/1/
Sorry, could not be bothered with html.

I believe Kevin did this about the desktop to rile people up and get them motivated. Whcih seems to be working...


I'm still going to switch Thursday (1)

berb (231742) | more than 12 years ago | (#206154)

I goin' 100% Slack on Thursday and nothing will stop me. I believe that I can still do my work on Linux, though I can't play CS (perhaps a little partition for CS -- ??). Anyhoo, I'll see you all on the other side.

try other apps (1)

motorsabbath (243336) | more than 12 years ago | (#206167)

hmm - declaring the Linux desktop dead after trying 1 browser and 1 office suite.

Try out Applixware and KOffice and Opera and Mozilla and (the list goes on)

I agree with him about StarOffice - it's almost as horribly bloated as Win98 . . . Applixware save the day for me while I was in school and now also in my office at work.

What a weenie . . .

Performance? (2)

mr-spam-uk (252016) | more than 12 years ago | (#206185)

This is a serious question.....
I use an out of the box Mandrake 8 install on my machine and while I prefer using it (and KDE2) to Win98 (which is on the other partition) the speed of both the windowing environment and the applications under GNU/Linux is nowhere near what I could get under Win98.
Question: Why?
Personally I agree with an earlier post about ditching X11 and starting again.

Average Users (1)

shmert (258705) | more than 12 years ago | (#206192)

Good thing I didn't successfully convince my mom to reformat her virus-laden PC with Linux. Would have been an interesting experiment, though.

I like KDE (1)

Proud Geek (260376) | more than 12 years ago | (#206195)

When I run it on Linux, it has all the features I expect in a modern OS, except for auto update. I use Debian, which gives me that, though. Some application software, like a decent word pro and media players, would be really nice.

Of course, Windows 2000 has all of the features, plus good apps. But its command line is less useful, and that's what I use most of the time, so I'll stick with Linux. I'm hardly an average user, though.

But but but... (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 12 years ago | (#206200)

Because Linux is Free, it can never really 'die', neither on the desktop nor embedded device nor server. What kind of power does this guy think he has to be able to call the end of Linux?

The only entity that could possibly bring an end to Linux anywhere is the U.S. Government by declaring the GPL null and void (GPL = (void)NULL);

Dancin Santa

Re:Yes, how truly sad... (2)

cavemanf16 (303184) | more than 12 years ago | (#206209)

This post is going to sound like more M$ slashdot style rhetoric, but here goes...

The only reason I haven't begun using Linux for everyday, non-gaming use is because my DSL connection doesn't work with Linux (USB hookup). But when I get RoadRunner in the next couple of weeks, guess which system I will be using to surf the net, listen to MP3's, etc?

Now Linux isn't for everyone yet. It may never get to that point, but personally I'm tired of the Microsoft OS. It's unflexible for the ways I use a computer, which is of course, are much different than the average Joe on the street that has a computer. And the more I get the chance to learn to use Linux, the easier it becomes to use it, versus M$ products.

Linux may become a cult product, much like Apple computers are now-a-days, but then again, Windows3.1 was the first real, useable GUI system Microsoft came out with (just like many of their software titles, the 3rd version is a far cry from the first two versions). KDE and Gnome are still in their childhoods. One more major revision for both, as well as for the Linux kernel, and I think Linux will really be in business as a mainstream product.

Impossible (1)

Persistence (316950) | more than 12 years ago | (#206228)

The US government does not have the power to kill Linux. Its decisions mean nothing in the rest of the world. Linux originated in Europe and that remains the place where many, if not most, of the most important Linux related supporters and developers are based.

Rest assured Linux will live on. (Which isn't to say that it will necessarily become a viable desktop competitor for a while yet.)

Re:Linux Not Meant for the Desktop (4)

angry_android (320134) | more than 12 years ago | (#206230)

3-4 days to set up a windows 2000 desktop at $20/hr?!?!?! God, they need to get rid of you and hire me. At my old company, I could take my time and have a win2000 machine up in 4 hrs, even given only adequate hardware. That includes office 2000, service pack 2 and setting up their mail etc.
I got laid off last month, and here I am stuck at the fscking university making beans for pay. Seriously, your company needs to HIRE ME!!!

vs. Windows (1)

jahjeremy (323931) | more than 12 years ago | (#206238)

Could the lack of a COM / OLE / ActiveX architecture be hurting the desktop environment? I am no MS pundit, but the interoperability between Office products is really helpful and useful and, in my mind, is the main advantage to a Windows-based system. (On the other hand, this model is responsible for many of the security holes in both MS's OS and desktop app programs.) For instance, from MS Access (or any other Office product) one can "drive" Excel, Outlook, Word and Powerpoint not to mention other automation-compatible software put out by third parties. This includes exchanging information between applications, creating new instances of an application and creating new documents, all from the VBA IDE. A typical Linux user might call this "bloatware," but if you know what you're doing, tasks that are difficult and time consuming in a Linux desktop environment (Netscape/Staroffice, etc.) are trivial using Office 2000 on Windows. Visual Basic was created to fulfill all the needs of the desktop workers and works with ALL Microsoft products. Any competing desktop has to deal with a guzillion man-years put in usability and interoperability by the MS juggernaut. On my last job, I did a breakdown on an 86 million dollar budget in one week using Access and Excel. Off the top of my head (please remember I'm not Linux-savy and I'm not flaming here!), I can't think of a similar DB/spreadsheet combo on Linux that would have done the job in that short an amount of time.

Re:i don't buy it (1)

jahjeremy (323931) | more than 12 years ago | (#206239)

I kind of harped on the lack of a coherent office suite, but except for the flamers, no one is saying Linux is dead on the desktop, just younger and more immature.

I have used Star Office; it is a memory hog and tries to load the entire suite into memory. It crashes a lot. It is slow. And, most annoyingly, it takes over your entire desktop. On the plus side, the code is out there should anyone care to improve it, but I doubt it will ever come close to matching the tight integration of Microsoft Office, which is, to me, one of the only reasons Microsoft controls the desktop market.

My point (still unanswered) was that I know of no equivalent set of apps for direct automation between a spreadsheet and database program on Linux. You can certainly assemble what you need from parts, but sometimes, especially under tight deadlines, this is just not an option.

To match the Excel/Access functionality in Linux, you would need a report writer, an IDE (Perl/Python probably), a spreadsheet/computation program, a database program (PostgresQL/MySQL/Interbase) and a whole hell-of-a-lot of luck trying to get these disparate pieces of software and code to talk to each other.

And dude, that mansion analogy is just sad. Windows 2000 is a decent, fairly stable operating system. If you're getting blue screens all the time, it's probably your own damn fault.

This is WAY premature (1)

flacco (324089) | more than 12 years ago | (#206240)

RIDICULOUS. Man, Eazel goes tits-up and people are predicting the demise of the Linux desktop.

Maybe Eazel failed because Nautilus was simply not that great? I installed it twice - I wanted to like this darling of the Linux press - and I uninstalled it twice. Did nothing for me. If it hadn't been given all the early press and hype, would anyone even notice that Eazel went under? I doubt it.

The Linux desktop is not dead, it's not old, it's not even middle-aged. At most, it's just moved out of mom and dad's house. Give it a little time.

Re:I like KDE (1)

obdulio (410122) | more than 12 years ago | (#206245)

I'll stick with Linux. I'm hardly an average user, though.

Thats the point.The average user, the one who until recently used a typewriter and a desk calculator and now has to work with a computer, does not care wheter the OS crashes or not, but he wants to get his work done.

For the average user, the computer is a mean to achive an objective. Its a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver. What they care is about having their work done. They dont even know there is an alternative and if they knew, they would not care.

If Linux wants to be an alternative in the desktop market, the open source comunity has to begin to think in the average user. They have to see them work, to listen to their needs, to understand what they want and to think like them.

Re:Seriously... (3)

archen (447353) | more than 12 years ago | (#206266)

I'd have to say I agree. I mean sure the Linux desktop isn't perfect, but it already looks very good in my opinion. I think it just needs a bit more consistency in many areas. I've always had a problem with the focus behavior on pretty much every Linux desktop. I'd also like to see something like a consistent hour glass cursor so I know what in the hell is going on. And I'd still rather use any Linux desktop over Mac OS (even OS X) - and not just because of the one mouse button issue. Most of these issues just take time... and probably more time since the Linux community tends to have a hard time agreeing on certain things =) But usually in the end they evolve into pretty cool products.

Re:Yes, how truly sad... (1)

Too Many Secrets (449095) | more than 12 years ago | (#206267)

I'm sorry, when did Red Hat make a profit again? Last I heard they 'broke even' because their shares only lost $.02 per.

IBM floated a bill, that's true. That's also 1% of their operating budget. Your facts are wrong therefore your opinions are invalid. You are the weakest link.


Re:Linux Not Meant for the Desktop (2)

$hotgun (449276) | more than 12 years ago | (#206268)

When I need to set up a new desktop client, it typically takes 3-4 days, using Windows 2000.

You take 3-4 days to set up a client (of any kind), and moderators mod you up to +4 Informative? Do you have several friends with mod points today or something. Man, if it takes you more than 4 hours you should be fired as a clueless twit!! Moreso, if it takes an additional 10 hrs to get a linux client running.

It's supported on 99.999 % of the hardware out there

Probably 99.999% of the stuff at CompUSA (where you're probably working as a checkout clerk). The rest of us know that the world of computers is comprised of more than what comes from hallowed halls of the WalMart of Computerdom. Besides, try downloading a copy of Mandrake 8.0. I find it a nice replacement for that stack of driver CDs and floppies that you get when you put together a new system.

This is the end, beautiful friend, the end. (1)

atlcartel (450689) | more than 12 years ago | (#206272)

The end. HA! Things take time. Look how long windows has been around and look how long people have been throwing memory/disk at it to make it work right. Everyday my company has to reboot some damn windows box. Everyday netcool alarms appear with windows boxes going down or rebooting or some other error message associated with that "stable" pile of crap they call and operating system. I use ONLY use linux(SuSE to be exact). The problem is this: NO standards for exchance of documents. Meaning, every office suite has its proprietary way of saving a file. A proprietary way of formatting the text. People have to reverse engineer the wind0ws crap, just so they can get it to convert into koffice or StarOffice(which is a bloated pig). Those are just my thoughts. Nothing is dead because an entity is in its early development stages. Atleast when you submit a bug to KDE, the next day or two someone updates the tree. Submit a bug to MacroHard and see how long it takes them to get it fixed.

we've seen this a thousand times (1)

Johnny5000 (451029) | more than 12 years ago | (#206273)

Any time anyone declares "the death of" whatever, it's usually not.

Some people will still use linux on their desktops, and some wont. Some people will use windows, and some wont. Hell, some people still are using OS/2.

Linux was never a desktop OS to begin with... (1)

sdenney (451937) | more than 12 years ago | (#206274)

Who ever said Linux was supposed to be a desktop OS? It sucks when it comes to that realm, but it rocks as a development and server oriented OS.

My linux box serves as a print server for my G4 PowerMac (I won't buy another printer), a private ftp and http server (for web development), and a programming workstation (for my CISE degree classes).

If I want a desktop OS, I'll use my Mac. If I want a server, I'll use my Linux box. Plain and simple.
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