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ESR's Desktop Linux 2008 Deadline

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the might-be-a-couple-years-late dept.

Linux 535

jesboat noted Eric S. Raymond and Rob Landley's essay about what the Linux community must do to achieve dominance entitled "World Domination 201". It says "Idealism about open formats will not solve our multimedia problem in time; in fact, getting stuck on either belief in the technical superiority of open source or free-software purism guarantees we will lose. The remaining problems aren't technical ones, and none of the interesting patents will expire before the end of 2008. We've got to ship something that works now. If we let this be a blocking issue preventing overall Linux adoption during the transition window, we won't have the userbase to demand changes in the laws to untangle the screwed up patent system, or even prevent it from getting worse. It's a chicken and egg problem, demanding a workaround until a permanent solution can be achieved. We can't set the standards until after we take over the world."

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Just remove the 'Open'? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353576)

"Idealism about open formats will not solve our multimedia problem in time"

We can have an Open Source Desktop if we just don't make it Open Source! Brilliant!

Pinky & The Brain meets Open Source (2, Funny)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353622)

Brain: "Just remember, in order to take over the world -- you have to be brilliant. What better way than turning Open Source into Open-Shut Source? Hmmmm and that's what the OSS could truly end up standing for! (We just won't tell them.)"

Re:Pinky & The Brain meets Open Source (5, Funny)

Digital Avatar (752673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353712)

Linus: Egads, Eric! BRILLIANT! HAHAHAHAHA, Troz!
ESR: Come, Linus, we must prepare for tomorrow night.
Linus: What are we going to do tomorrow night?
ESR: The same thing we do every night, Linus...TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!

NARF.

You neglect what is important here! (0, Offtopic)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354150)

Did you even see the low UID of the poster you're replying to? You even *read* his post doing that flyover, sojer! Turn in your /. card, now!

Try to dance the limbo under that UID! Seriously.
 

Re:Just remove the 'Open'? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353710)

just one word: consolidate

choice is good, but too much choice is spreading ourselves too thin

Re:Just remove the 'Open'? (2, Insightful)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354092)

Don't be silly, I use each and every single one of the 30 calculators, 60 text file viewers, 40 email clients...

This is the problem with anarchy; everyone will tend towards choosing different things. Some leadership is required to say "we're going to concentrate here", so that resources are consolidated, and projects can really start moving forward at a much faster rate.

Pot? Kettle? Dark Gray? Ebony? Noir? Black? (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353854)


what the Linux community must do to achieve dominance

Uhh, if Linux achieves world dominance, then wouldn't it necessarily follow that Open Source would be evil?

And then Microsoft would be good?

Or maybe I just don't have a proper grasp of the Flemingian eschatology of 007, MI5, and SPECTRE.

Re:Just remove the 'Open'? (5, Interesting)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354216)

getting stuck on belief in [...] free-software purism guarantees we will lose.

Staying Free is a guaranteed way to lose? Tell me more, you seem to have invented a fascinating new branch of logic, cos it seems to me that if you are forced to use non-Free software (or hardware), you have already lost.

We've got to ship something that works now.
For a given value of "works", where 'works' is defined as meeting requirements. My first requirement as a software user is that doesn't steal my freedoms to share, copy, study, modify, redistribute (etc) it. If I can't do that with it, it's not working. There's a saying about he who would swap eye-candy for essential freedoms deserving neither. (Danny O'Brien I think that was.)

Re:Just remove the 'Open'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17354218)

You missed his point entirely. He wasnt saying not to make it open source, he was saying: open the codecs and drivers, so that open source apps can use them legally.

I for one agree that this would be a very good thing for Linux.

...and? (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353578)

Why is ESR so hellbent on taking over the world? We have a system that works, and that can play multimedia just fine, albeit illegally, why does it matter how many people use it? I, for one, don't see ESR wanting to take over the world as enough of a reason to cave in and use proprietary technologies...

Re:...and? (5, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353630)

Why is ESR so hellbent on taking over the world? We have a system that works, and that can play multimedia just fine, albeit illegally, why does it matter how many people use it? I, for one, don't see ESR wanting to take over the world as enough of a reason to cave in and use proprietary technologies...

You just gave the reason why we need more people adopting Linux: what you say is that Linux can play multimedia files just fine, only illegally (I'm assuming you're referring to the proprietary mplayer codecs here). Yet you see no reason to "cave in and use proprietary technologies"? Strange line of thought...

If, on the other hand, a significant number of people used OSS, they would have a lote more weight to lobby software manufacturers for more open-source codecs, native ports of their software to Linux, etc... making using Linux perfectly legal when those codecs are available on your favorite platform.

Re:...and? (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353892)

Yes, but if the only way you can acquire the user base necessary is by making the system interesting to those who don't care about open standard and patent blockages, then how are you going to then leverage your non-caring userbase into political clout?

Re:...and? (2, Insightful)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354034)

Not political clout, economic clout. Do you think Microsoft cajoles their user base to political action for DRM? No, this is an issue that the public ranks very low, in these issues, any company/organization with a significant user base is given tremendous clout.

Re:...and? (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354264)

Okay, so if we rerphase the question with economic clout, I still don't see how having a bunch of users who don't care about software freedom using a Linux implementation that doesn't care about software freedom is going to encourage software freedom.

How is this going to work?

Re:...and? (1)

x2A (858210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354108)

Subliminal messages... detect a good enough graphics card to be able to flash political messages at a quick enough rate so they're not consciously spotted, and then let the reprogramming begin!

Re:...and? (1)

dpninerSLASH (969464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354124)

Or more directly...when did ESR's personal agenda become that of the entire OSS/Linux community?

For what it's worth, my 8-year-old daughter thinks Tux is cute, and believes that her desktop looks better with an image of him. Therefor, I predict that unless all distros switch to this new desktop standard than the entire movement will be DOOOOOOOOOMED!

DP

Mod points!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353586)

Fight unfair moderation! see http://politics.slashdot.org/~CPMO/journal/ [slashdot.org]

H.264 (3, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353592)

So... Why did Adobe use H.264 for Flash's codec, considering its patent burden? How much in royalties are THEY paying? Is it really that much better than the OGM codec?

Re:H.264 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353666)

If by "OGM codec" you mean Theora [theora.org] I think the answer is yes, H.264 is still vastly superior in terms of a visual quality to size trade off. When people see a Flash video they expect it to play instantaneously so bandwidth matters.

Re:H.264 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353754)

Mainly because H.264 is a codec while OGM is an unofficial hack of the ogg container format. You encode video with a codec then you put that video along with audio tracks and subtitles into a container so it's one file and not a mess of many. So to answer your question H.264 is immensely better for encoding video as opposed to OGM because you can't encode video with OGM you put encoded video into an OGM container.

Re:H.264 (2)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353806)

Maybe because H.264 offers good compression and video quality while OGM [wikipedia.org] is only a container format? What you are looking for, instead, is Theora [wikipedia.org] .

As an aside, H.264 will play in Windows, Mac, iPods, PSPs, and quite a few cell phones.

World Domination 201? (2, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353600)

Like a college course? WD201? It's just like ESR to post something so sophomoric as this.

Re:World Domination 201? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353802)

It's just like ESR to post something so sophomoric as this.

He's trying to put everyone to sleep? ;-)

The only real problem of Linux is (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353604)

Ease of installation. Be it drivers that manufacturers don't bother providing for Linux, or applications that require configuring as root, etc... But the problem of drivers aside, there's a fundamental clash between ease of installation (i.e. something grandma can figure out herself) and security: if you make Linux as easy to use as Windows, then you need to discard the root/user distinction, and that would make Linux as bad as Windows. Yes, I know Windows has a superuser/normal user distinction too, but grandma doesn't use it, and those who do know it's a pain.

The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate. That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot. No amount of tweaking will make a good secure OS an easy one.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353776)

The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

Good choice of word to misspell. Besides that, "people" in general want to use whatever everyone else is using, they want to use whatever brand name apps they've heard about and most of all, they want it simple. Every company in every line of business wish their customers were better informed and better trained, it's not going to happen. You can teach a monkey new tricks (like that the Intarnets is now the fiery fox, not the blue e) but most people don't want to become "computer literate". Not even the modern kids who MSN all day want to be "computer literate" in the way you think of it.

Want to make inroads:
1. Corporate workstations. That means in particular
a. Exchange replacement
b. Policy management like Active Directory
c. Heavy compatibility work with MS Office

2. Educational facilities
a. Get Linux labs, dual-booting machines
b. Deploy Firefox, OpenOffice etc. as alternatives on all desktops
c. Make sure all internal systems are platform-independent

3. "Family management"
a. More shades between "root" and "user". Waaay too often I get asked for the root password for things I'd like to delegate, but not give away total control. Linux is great when you're either one person or administering a bunch of people that only get approved applications, inbetween is not that great.
b. Security updates that really are without question, so you could set them up to install automatically. I really like apt-get and all, but it annoys me that I don't know if I'll get asked about some config file where the defaults have changed or whtaever.
c. Somewhere to put "common documents" that is somewhat standard and sane. Everybody has their home dir like "My documents", it's not difficult to fix but it's always a custom dir with custom links, don't people have like general data that's shared with all users?

Gamers and people that rely on support lines or local tech shops just aren't cases you'll win. There's so many quirks in changing to Linux, it just gets too expensive to pay for it (and these aren't the people to search online forums). You need someone with Linux sklil in the company, institution or family. To think that any significant share will put in a k/ubuntu CD and install it by themselves, is dreaming.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1)

Simon80 (874052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353918)

a. More shades between "root" and "user". Waaay too often I get asked for the root password for things I'd like to delegate, but not give away total control. Linux is great when you're either one person or administering a bunch of people that only get approved applications, inbetween is not that great.
We have that, it's called sudo. The config file documentation is a bit confusing, but there are understandable tutorials online.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (4, Insightful)

compm375 (847701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353794)

The problem is not ease of installation nearly as much as it not being preinstalled on many computers. Most Linux installation processes are pretty easy, maybe even easier than a Windows installation, but the average user doesn't do a Windows installation either - it is preinstalled. What we need is either a bunch of OEMs cooperating, or some kind of effort to install Linux on people's computers for them.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1, Informative)

BobKagy (25820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354266)

But if you read the article, getting OEMs on board is not enough.

Currently, multimedia support is considered an essential part of the desktop. However, it is illegal for an OEM to include various bits (DeCSS, MP3, codecs) without license agreements, and there isn't one person an OEM can pay for this license. Redhat doesn't even offer the option of paying them for this support.

So until the multimedia problem is solved, the pre-installation problem for the general public will wait. There are and will be niche places to get a PC with Linux pre-installed, but they won't be fit for the general public.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353836)

Since I started messing around with Linux in 1997, the quality and ease of installation has improved exponentially. There is no comparison between installing Red Hat 5 point (whatever it was) and the Ubuntu ISO I could download today.

I know what you are saying about the drivers, applications, configuration, etc. I think the problem here is vendor support and lack of standardization (both of which are improving, slowly at times, but they are improving).

That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot. No amount of tweaking will make a good secure OS an easy one.

This is where I really disagree. Educating users about computers is an idealistic panacea. Lay persons are not going to magically be as savvy as they will need to be for the available technology in 10 years, 15, 20, etc. As the years go on, technology will always be several steps ahead of the mainstream market.

It's an unfortunate tradeoff. Do we make the product bulletproof? Or do we make is usable? In order for it to have mass appeal, it has to have the human interface well designed to work the way the vast majority of humans think it should. Not the way a vast majority of technologically savvy programmers think it should.

Not a great analogy, but look at the state of modern music. Full of talentless hacks. But these people are millionaires because they have mass appeal and outstanding marketing. So, it's not so much about the product and how technically superior it is. It's really about the product's marketability. I think Linux just isn't mass marketable (on the same scale as OS X and Win*) because it can't break out of that idea that it's a niche product.

A little good PR to get lay persons interested in Linux could go a long way. Get people talking about in a positive way, get them interested. In my world, Linux has been around about 10 years (I know it was 1991, but I said my world). I talk to people about Linux now and more people are aware of it, but they are still afraid of it. And for those that are entrenched in their current OS, they are terrified to change. Particularly those Apple guys :-)

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353884)

Forgetting the driver issue ( which is a whole different discussion ), modern distributions are not that hard to install if you want to choose a full disk install. ( dual boot isnt for 'ease of install' )

Boot the cd, press a couple of ok buttons and when its done you have a desktop.

Usability now that its installed, well that is another topic.

I think it has a far bigger problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353920)

I don't think the real problem of Linux is the difficulty of installation. Windows is not always straightforward to install either, but for most people it's either done before they get the machine or they get a techie friend to help. It's no biggie.

IMHO, the real problem with Linux is simply a shortage of high-quality applications. This is not intended as a slight against any particular application, and it's certainly not a statement that there are no high-quality applications. But let's be fair: Linux has, as yet, no answer to MS Office at work, and no answer to the range of games available for Windows and/or the latest generation of consoles at home. And that's just step one; there are many more specialist business applications, communications and multimedia software for home users, and the like that will have to follow. Until this sort of thing is available, Linux will never go mainstream, no matter how simple to install it is, how good the driver support may be, or how dedicated its users are to Open Source or Free Software ideals.

This appears, at first sight, to be something of a vicious circle: commercial organisations with the resources to put together that kind of software are unlikely to commit them until there's a market, and the market will not materialise without the software base. But there is light at both ends of this tunnel. On one end, there seems an increasing tendency for the more specialised business applications (or "databases", as we used to call them) to have web front-ends, and since Linux does have decent web browsers available, this reduces the problems in this area. At the other end of the tunnel, Linux itself and several other projects demonstrate clearly that the OSS community is capable of building applications on the scale required. It just needs to grow up a bit, spend less time worrying about philosophical and ethical issues, and kick off some heavyweight projects where the management team have the vision and organisational skills necessary. There's no reason that can't happen; it just hasn't (very often) so far.

Re:I think it has a far bigger problem (1)

Decaff (42676) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353984)

But let's be fair: Linux has, as yet, no answer to MS Office at work, and no answer to the range of games available for Windows and/or the latest generation of consoles at home.

I agree about the home software range, but it is simply not true that there is no answer to MS Office. I have been involved in supporting a medium sized business that has been using Open Office for years. There have been few problems (certainly no more problems that we used to have with MS Office). Compatibility with MS Office isn't perfect, but it is no worse than compatibility between different versions of MS Office.

Linux has a long way to go for home use, but for general corporate desktops, I can't see many issues - in fact, we have found it far easier to support and maintain (and the low software budget was a major shock to managers).

I really believe that Linux is good enough for general corporate desktop use, and the killer application that allows that is Open Office.

Re:I think it has a far bigger problem (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354134)

I agree about the home software range, but it is simply not true that there is no answer to MS Office.

Sorry, but for many, many businesses, that really is true. OpenOffice is nowhere near up to the job. If all you do is fairly trivial documents, sure, Writer is OK. But OO has numerous weaknesses. What we need is something better than MS Office, a "killer app" for Linux. A close-approximation with a somewhat lower price tag isn't worth much in this game.

Such an MS Office-beater isn't hard to conceive. I was challenged to list 10 major problems with MS Office in a recent discussion here, and listed ten in Word alone off the top of my head, which I then defended in detail when challenged. The thread was only a few days ago if you want to look it up. [slashdot.org] But OO isn't trying to improve on these areas in any meaningful way, as also discussed in that thread and others.

Meanwhile, reliability problems with import/export of .DOC files, the underpowered Calc that can't keep up with Excel, the lack of anything to compete head-to-head with Outlook, and several other serious concerns will prevent most/all mid- and large-sized businesses moving to OO any time soon. It's just not ready for the big time yet, like so many other OSS applications, and this is exactly my point.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (5, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353996)

### Ease of installation.

I am sorry, but that is just bullshit. Linux has been extremely easy to install for years, it also happens to be a heck of a lot easier to install then Windows and lets not forget we have LiveCDs, so giving Linux a quick try is among the most trivial things you can do. Beside from that, installation is totally overrated, you do it like once in a lifetime and then never ever again, if you have trouble with it, find a friend that helps with it. Installation is a pretty much solved problem, with repartitioning being the only thing that requires some thinking.

The real problem isn't installation, but maintaining an Linux, simply things as installing a piece of software you have seen on a webpage can be extremely hard and time consuming, even for somebody with 10+ years of Linux experience, for your grandma such things are simply totally out of reach. Sure we have apt-get and friends, but those help absolutely nothing if a piece of software isn't in your distribution, which kind of is always the case with new software. Unless that changes and software installation becomes a no-brainer, Linux won't stand much a chance in the mass market.

And speaking about security, that one is totally overrated as well. On a desktop computer there is only one account that matters and that is the one of the user using it, lets call it juser. If root or jusers account is compromised doesn't make a difference, since in *both* cases the intruder has full access to everything that matters anyway. If there is something I really don't care about on my Linux then its /bin, /usr, /var and all those other root-write only directories that have absolutely nothing of valuable data, since it comes straight from the distribution CD and is trivial to recover, if /home/juser/ on the other side says bye-bye and you don't have a recent backup, then you can really be in trouble. On large multi-user installations things look different, but on your average desktop that whole root/user separation doesn't provide much benefit at all. That of course doesn't mean we should get rid of it, but you don't really need much more then a password-less sudo.

### The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

Good luck trying that, it won't work, ever. The simple reason for that is that computers simply don't make sense. You can teach a person math, because math makes sense and is logic, but handling a computers relies in very large part simply on learning the quicks of its broken software, on Linux just the same as everywhere else. So knowledge from 5 years ago can be totally useless today, lots of computer knowledge is already worthless after a year. Computers simply don't make sense and it requires just way to much time for the average person to learn all the quirks and workarounds. The solution to all this is to simply *fix* all those quirks and bugs so that they never ever touch the users desktop. There simply isn't a logical reason why installing a tar.gz requires me to manually track down dependencies, why there is no undelete and why changing the mouse speed requires editing Xorg.conf while changing mouse acceleration does not, its just bugs and history that made the software the way it is today, there is no logical design principle behind all this. Simply fix it and don't try to teach the user why your software is broken and how to work around it, just a waste of time.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (4, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354040)

If that's the problem, here's a crazy idea:

Market PC's with Linux already installed and ready to start.

Hire a real marketing team. Put it where the masses will see it.

Oh, you mean that take real money and business expertise? Ah, dammit, so *that's* why they charge for software! I *knew* there was a reason behind it!

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1)

binaryspiral (784263) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354130)

The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate. That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot. No amount of tweaking will make a good secure OS an easy one.

Make this part of the No Child Left Behind act... so that it's one more freaking standardized test my kid can take instead of actually learning something.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354188)

That sort of plan is a 10 year plan at the very least, and requires educating people at school about basic computer security, and the dangers of being a computer idiot.

You don't think schools have enough to teach people already? (Clue: Look at the literacy levels and mathematical skills of the average school leaver.)

You can never make a computer 100% secure, because there will always be people who tell others their password. Every time you raise the game, there will still be someone at the bottom who's an easy target. But you certainly can write software that doesn't allow the kind of attacks that plague us today, without any user education at all.

If you want a user security model that works relatively well, you need look no further than banking and credit cards. Everyone knows how to swipe a card and type a four-digit number, and that you aren't supposed to write the number down anywhere it's recognisable, and that if your card is stolen you call the bank and cancel it. This system is simple enough for the average guy/girl in the street to handle, yet works pretty well and requires very little training.

Re:The only real problem of Linux is (1)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354220)

The real solution to make Linux more mainstream is to make users more computer litterate.

Leaving aside the spelling miscue :-), you're not asking for computer literacy, you're asking for Linux literacy. There's been a god-awful amount of $$ pumped into the educational system over the past 15 years to develop "computer literacy." You can't go into any school system without seeing computers these days, and quite a large percentage of people have computers in their home. Are they computer literate? In terms of being able to use the computer, yes. Most people can figure out how to start their computer, hook it to the Internet, browse the web, check their e-mail, use a word processor, print documents, and even download and install programs these days. Unfortunately, they're doing this in Windows and MacOS X

The problem is that "computer literacy" is a moving target, frequently defined as "I know this, so everyone else should know it." I know how to build a computer from component parts. If you don't then you're computer illiterate. You know how to build a Beowulf cluster, I don't. I'm computer illiterate. What Stallman pointed out is that there's differences in computer literacy, and what we should expect from your average, moderately literate user. Compared with what existed back in the early '80's, most people today are computer literate.

What is being said is that while we can slam MS and Apple all we want, we also have to, if we want the desktop, look at what they do right. If I download an open source media player in Windows and install it, after I've done some check marks on choices during the installation, it's configured. I don't have to tell Firefox, Opera, Thunderbird, or whatever to use it as a default. Compare that with even the easier Linux distros, where you may have to edit several config files, or download and install another set of packages to enable it, and so on. Yes, I can do that, but just because I can, it doesn't mean I like it, or that I'd expect everyone else to be able to do it. If Linux can't move on things like that, then it is always going to be a server OS, and everyone should just STFU about using it on a desktop computer.

So this is what ESR has been doing! (2, Informative)

Slithe (894946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353610)

He has not posted anything in his blog [ibiblio.org] for six months!

Re:So this is what ESR has been doing! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353708)

I love the name and title of his blog:

"Armed and Dangerous
Sex, software, politics, and firearms. Life's simple pleasures...


haha. what a twat :)

Re:So this is what ESR has been doing! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17354148)

Ah yes, ESR, the Ricky Gervais of software. He is an unbelievable cunt, as you are likely to gather if you read enough of his webpages. His "success" is not due to cleverness or contributions to free software: it's due to arrogant self-confidence and bandwagon-jumping.

For example, you can read his article about how gay people are actually all pedophiles. I'm not going to find that link. You can also read his Sex Tips for Geeks, the main purpose of which is to cast him as the world's ugliest sex guru. It contains no advice that isn't obvious. Or you can read the fount of knowledge that is the Jargon File: ESR copied this from its former home and made a few changes. You probably won't be able to read the articles he posted after early investment in free software technology made him a paper millionaire - but these are scattered all over the Internet, as ESR couldn't resist bragging about his newfound wealth. Whatatwat.

Oh good grief (2, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353612)

How exactly can Linux lose? It's getting better all the time. It can't go bankrupt, it can't be taken over, it can't be bought out.

You could argue it might gain more marketshare if we 'relax' our ideals and principles, but so what? We aren't going to lose linux or anything if we don't.

Re:Oh good grief (3, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353720)

We can be sued out of market.

Enough said. And seeing what actually happens in US IT court rooms, I fully agree this time with ESR.

Re:Oh good grief (1)

beoba (867477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354162)

So who could be sued that would stop linux development?

I think SCO has, if anything, shown that lawsuits are insufficient when the development of Linux (kernel OR applications) is done by so many people and organizations across so many countries (each with their own legal systems).

Heck, if for some reason the kernel (or any other project) could no longer be developed because of some infringing code, why cant that code just be stripped out? Even if the original team for a given OSS project runs out of money due to lawyer salaries, what's keeping someone else from making a fork (without the problematic code) and continuing the work?

Trying to stop Linux with lawsuits would be like trying to kill a swarm of bionic regenerative bees with a shotgun. You might get one or two, but they reproduce so quickly that you'll be overwhelmed anyway.

Re:Oh good grief (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353726)

This is an idea that struck me a long time ago ('98ish). Since Linux does not 'compete' per se, it cannot lose. At least not in the traditional way.

I''m not sure things 'need' to be done within a time period as ESR seems to believe. The steady march of FLOSS is what's kept it alive and growing so far and I don't think that'll change.

Re:Oh good grief (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353770)

How exactly can Linux lose? It's getting better all the time. It can't go bankrupt, it can't be taken over, it can't be bought out.

Linux can be ignored. Linux can go unfunded.

The Mozilla Foundation. OpenOffice.org.

What happens when Big Daddy Warbucks stops paying the bills?

---at least for the Linux port?

You want to scratch an itch? Go right ahead.

But, if you want to make a living in this game, at some point you have to start thinking about market share, allocation of resources.

You have to make choices.

Re:Oh good grief (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353994)

I hear what you're saying, but I think you're perhaps a little too confident here.

As you say, Linux can't be taken over or bought out. It can, however, be crippled and have its credibility destroyed, at which point is no longer matters. It is under threat from patent issues. Ironically, it is also potentially under threat from security issues: governments are going to have to start cracking down on security before the economic damage caused by viruses, spam e-mail and the like gets much worse. You or I might respond, "Use a more secure operating system, like Linux!" Unfortunately, I'm betting the governments will hear the lobbying money, and there is a serious risk that they will start legislating that only approved system software may be used on any computer connected to the Internet. Guess whose software is going to be approved? They would come up with some expensive licensing scheme to deal with all the infrastructure businesses who use Linux, of course, but we're talking about end users here.

OK, stop laughing and thinking I'm a moron. Not so long ago, I made a post to a forum (possibly this one) warning that if people continued to rip songs illegally over the Internet, the music industry would attempt to defend its legal rights by force, to the point of restricting all available hardware so you couldn't copy stuff. People laughed at me and said it couldn't be done. Today we have DRM, getting more restrictive and more legal backing by the month, and people having their lives ruined for getting on the wrong side of the system.

Swallow Your Pride And Just Clone OS X (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353614)

The various Linux GUI toolkits and APIs are technical and ascetic(hideous to look at) abominations.

The silly myth that having multiple desktops is some sort of advantageous competition driving the Linux desktop forward is utter bullshit.

Just clone the fucking major OS X desktop APIs and UI elements and LET'S GET ON WITH MORE IMPORTANT THINGS. And then clone the major iApps.

When you boot Linux, it will look and function as good this:

http://images.apple.com/macosx/leopard/images/inde xdesktop20060807.jpg [apple.com]

The tiny, hardcore 'not invented here' Linux crowd can still waste their time with their oh so productive KDE vs Gnome flamewars and making useless but flashy GL accelerated desktop effects.

Re:Swallow Your Pride And Just Clone OS X (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353646)

Just clone the fucking major OS X desktop APIs and UI elements and LET'S GET ON WITH MORE IMPORTANT THINGS. And then clone the major iApps.

And who will port the 20-so years of software development that have been made for X, Motif, tk, GTK or Qt? you?

Sure multiple GUI toolkits are a pain and a waste of resources, but so is throwing away perfectly good software on the ground that the newer OS doesn't support it anymore. Just ask Mac users...

Re:Swallow Your Pride And Just Clone OS X (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354014)

And who will port the 20-so years of software development that have been made for X, Motif, tk, GTK or Qt? you?
Well someone is going to have to, you have as much chance of it working as not if you don't explicitly port it to new libraries.

Re:Swallow Your Pride And Just Clone OS X (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353686)

> The silly myth that having multiple desktops is some sort of advantageous competition driving the Linux desktop forward is utter bullshit.

It's advantageous to *me*, *I* don't happen to *LIKE* MAC OS X you insensitive arrogant thesaurusise("clod")

Improve the OS X clone we already have (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353846)

It's called OpenStep. If the Linux community had any sense they'd kill off GNOME, keep KDE around for a while in maintenance mode, and focus efforts on OpenStep.

Why domination? (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353616)

"Why can't we work out our differences? Why can't we work things out? Little people, why can't we all just get along?"

Linux is a kernel (1)

Joseph W. Stalin (1032044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353650)

Linux is a kernel. It is up to the X.org people and window managers to worry about the desktop. However, I can't see Linux on the desktop being very important. There isn't any reason why Windows can't be on the desktop. Let Linux do what it was designed to do and use a tool that is better for the job do the job. In that case, Windows is that tool. Conversely, let Linux/*BSD/Solaris/Other related be on the server and not Windows.

Re:Linux is a kernel (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353738)

Windows also has a very impressive line of server products. Sure the stability and security might not be as good as Linux but most businesses this is not the prime reason to choose a server OS. In my experience most companies or VARs choose their server OS by looking at managability, application and price. Personally I deal with a lot of small businesses and Windows Small Business Server 2003 is very hard to beat.

1. Digital Fax system
2. SharePoint services
3. Remote desktop / assitance
4. Group Policies
5. Exchange

Because all these options come with a very impressive cost ($1000.00 for server/5 user license), you cannot go wrong. It is stupid to buy anything else if you have less then 40 users on your network.

ESR missed the boat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353672)

5 years ago. Seriously, why are we talking about him? What has he done in the last 5 years?

Interesting Article (1, Interesting)

MrCrassic (994046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353680)

...but I think in order for them to gain anything close to mainstream status, they have to offer a lot of what the mainstream offers.

There are two things that stand out in my mind as being critical for the success of Linux in the home environment. First, they would have to offer driver support. Lots of it. Microsoft has each vendor test almost all of their hardware for full compatibility with Windows, and even Microsoft tests out some units for compatibility. Apple manufactures their own hardware, which decreases the burden. GNU/Linux would have to rely on "the community" to do this level of testing, but its nearly impossible for this to happen. Linux developers would have to depend on users buying almost all of the popular hardware out there and then test it fully on every popular distribution of Linux. There are several of those: Mandriva, Fedora Core, Red Hat, SuSE, Gentoo, etc. By the time this gets done, Windows Vista would have become the new standard.

Second, Linux really needs a standard GUI. It's very confusing for a new user to learn one desktop interface, say KDE, and then realize that some distributions use another, like GNOME, as a default. Furthermore, not every application "just works" on every window manager; NetworkManager for GNOME has never worked on KDE for me. What makes Linux a pretty amazing operating system is the vast amount of options available, but they really need a standardizing factor for the new crowd.

Linux has made some excellent inroads to prove itself to the crowd as a serious operating system, but I don't think that they will achieve "world domination" by 2008. Even the idea itself is just childish, in my honest opinion. What they should be striving for is pushing it as "an alternative" to Microsoft Windows instead of "the better option." And doing that alone takes a while.

Re:Interesting Article (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353832)

Linux developers would have to depend on users buying almost all of the popular hardware out there and then test it fully on every popular distribution of Linux.

Why is that? What differences are there between distributions that make driver support so difficult?

It's very confusing for a new user to learn one desktop interface, say KDE, and then realize that some distributions use another, like GNOME, as a default.

Why is that? How many users have to switch between desktop interfaces? Or do you mean that the cognitive burden of realizing that some people have different desktops is too difficult for certain users regardless of whether they ever encounter these differences?

Re:Interesting Article (3, Interesting)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354094)

A few of other things to consider:

-- Right now, to have a good conceptual understanding of Linux and to be really effective with it, one has to have a handle on a *lot* of stuff. Too much stuff. Contrast that to Windows where you could almost train a monkey to use it. Common example - if you screw up your video settings in Windows and get an unusable display, you can reboot into safe mode and fix it relatively easily. If you do the same thing in Linux, you're probably looking at directly editing the X config file or, if you're lucky, using the command-line version of SaX or something similar to fix your problem. That's not an acceptable option if you're selling to the unwashed masses.

-- Differences in distros. I think someone actually mentioned this before, but there needs to be a standard fricking way to reconfigure your system. If you want to reconfigure your network card, you need to go to /etc/sysconfig/network-scripts/ifcfg-eth* if you're running RH, or /etc/network/interfaces if you're running Debian, or /etc/conf.d/net for Gentoo since there's no universal config app for that. There's never going to be a Linux desktop that's popular with the non-geek world unless everyone can decide where everything goes and how it should be configured. Consistency is everything here. Yes, I'm aware of the FHS standard, but there are plenty of distros that don't seem to be.

-- The "RTFM" syndrome. Certainly, I get as annoyed as anyone else when someone bugs me with a question that could easily have been answered by spending 15 seconds in the docs. However, the docs are not in a neat, centralized place - you often have to set off on a damn quest to find what you need. Even if the documentation were more accessible, the sheer arrogance that's shown by a lot of FOSS supporters does a lot to steer people away when they *do* try to dabble their feet in the Linux waters. No one likes to be treated like an idiot (even if they are!), and no one likes to deal with a jerk.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that Linux development and support isn't centralized. Linux is quite popular on the back-end, but when you look at that more closely you see that it's an environment where there are highly trained people who are qualified to easily deal with the crap I mentioned above. Additionally, most of the more popular back-end software packages (Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.) is generally maintained by a single group that maintains tight control, so in that situation it's more like dealing with a vendor than a bunch of individuals. I believe that we'll see Linux continue to hang on to the datacenter because it's simply a good system, but I just don't see it becoming a desktop standard to any great degree unless someone does with it what Apple did with BSD.

They miss the biggest point (5, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353694)

They like to use history is this essay, but backward compatability is by far the biggest factor in the history of desktop operating system software. This essay hardly mentions it, and not in the context of history. The biggest reason Windows 3.1 won was because of its backward compatability with DOS -- and Microsoft never forgot the lesson. Dos -> Win3.1 -> Win 95 -> Win 98 -> NT 3.1 (sort of) -> Win2000 -> XP -> Vista. Microsoft gives you a relatively smooth glide up the chain so that you don't have to throw away all your existing software -- and hardware. Of course, it's not perfect, but it's sure better than throwing away everything to move to Linux or a Mac.

Re:They miss the biggest point (3, Funny)

jalefkowit (101585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353784)

Absolutely correct. You can, in fact, download the original version of VisiCalc [bricklin.com] -- the original spreadsheet program, released for MS-DOS in 1981 -- and run it, unmodified, in Windows XP.

Re:They miss the biggest point (2, Insightful)

realnowhereman (263389) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354042)

You can, in fact, download the original version of VisiCalc -- the original spreadsheet program, released for MS-DOS in 1981 -- and run it, unmodified, in DOSEMU under any version of Linux you feel like.

Re:They miss the biggest point (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354208)

Uh, okay. Now try running a few older games, which tend to do more complicated things than simple spreadsheet apps. You can forget about most DOS games. Windows 95/98 games are even more dodgy. If you're lucky, there game developer has released an XP compatibility patch that you can apply, which sometimes makes it work.

Windows Vista has expanded the incompatibility problem to include applications, as well. Try running Nero or TortoiseSVN. Try installing MS Visual Studio 2005, clicking OK on the huge incompatibility warning, and praying that the features you use aren't broken. Tell me again how Windows is amazingly backwards-compatible?

But a.out's from early 90's run on Linux 2.6 ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353982)

... so I'm not sure that I understand your point at all.

Re:But a.out's from early 90's run on Linux 2.6 .. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354028)

Try an old copy of StarOffice. The switch to glibc caused a lot of headaches for that and even the open source developers, new distributions didn't run older software.

The point was that you had to have an operating system that was compatible with software that people already used. It would help if Crossover Office was better.

Re:They miss the biggest point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17354020)

virtualization solves this

Re:They miss the biggest point (1)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354166)

They like to use history is this essay, but backward compatability is by far the biggest factor in the history of desktop operating system software.

I've seen several people now switching to Macs, two of them in a work environment where I would presume you'd find the most serious problems with backwards compatibility. They're doing fine. Most of what people are doing nowadays is web-oriented.

Anyway, you may be right, but I suspect by far the biggest things which keeps the Windows monopoly going are the anticompetitive threats [zdnet.co.uk] and threatened loss of marketing money kickbacks made by Microsoft against any company that dares to ship a computer without Windows on it.

Rich

Re:They miss the biggest point (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354204)

Correct. But it's also why Windows is so full of cruft, and why so many useful features are unused (running as Administrator is an obvious example). OTOH, Word managed to take over without Word Perfect compatibility (largely because WP was useless on Windows 3.x until most of the demand was gone), while being a worse program. I think we should be happy if we can get good programs that value our freedom and our ownership of our own data, and don't play ridiculous games of Domination -- which result in no good, and which we'll end up losing anyway.

Re:They miss the biggest point (2, Insightful)

BobKagy (25820) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354234)

They do mention this in the article. They also think that Wine is coming along nicely and will allow Linux to provide the same level of backward compatibility that Win64 will. In part they expect the experience to be similar because there are signs backwards compatibility in Win64 isn't/won't be as perfect as it has been in the past.

They've got me convinced that the insurmountable problem is multimedia support is now an essential part of the desktop, and it is illegal to distribute a Linux desktop with full multimedia support in the U.S. Thus it is illegal to distribute a Linux desktop functionally equivalent to Win64 or MacOSX.

ogg[flac, theora, vorbis] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353700)

Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora are wonderful geek projects that have little or no traction in the real world

Why is this?

Re:ogg[flac, theora, vorbis] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353850)

why ?

no marketing, no brand promotion, no brand reinforcement, no advertising, no cash, no responsibility

Re:ogg[flac, theora, vorbis] (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354126)

I agree. Granted, with developer-level technology such as this you can survive to some degree on the your merits, but you're right: some promotion would be in order. On the other hand, would you like to be the market droid in charge of popularizing "Flac", "Theora", and "Vorbis", all produced by an organization with a moniker of "Ogg"? Seriously, those sound like they came out of a bad clone of a Tolkien novel, "Princess Theora took a lot of Flac from the Wizard of Ogg when she married Prince Vorbis." MP3 just rolls off the tongue in comparison. The Ogg people are really good at what they do, no kidding, except when it comes to basic marketing.

What's in a name? Well, a rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but when it comes to marketing data compression formats you'd best make sure your name is something that doesn't creep out your customer base.

Finally (2, Insightful)

Pecisk (688001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353752)

Finally someone of our leaders said what was needed to say - we need to get serious market share, period. No buts, no whys. If you don't get it, you never will be serious about IT, seriously. Because IT don't need only stuff that works now, but which also have serious legacy and support. Don't like it? You bet it, no one likes it, but it is REAL LIFE. Not some dreaming about John Lennon vision of the world, yes, we can try to achieve that, but let's be honest here - we need wilder strategy and understanding about politics here. We need seek out how to get people to our side. For example, I can say honestly that if someone would tried to push me to use FLAC or Ogg instead of allowing to play mp3s on Linux desktop, then I would definitely said good luck and went to study Macs or something else. Only features open me world of "freedom" and "openess" what I value so much now.

We should LEARN and EDUCATE people, not try to PUSH them on our side. It will never work.

This time, ESR got this in the center.

Happy Christmas everyone, go out, meet your dear ones, be with your family.

Peter.

Linux IS here today. (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353792)

I use linux because it works.
Other people use linux because it works.
Companies (ie google) use linux because it works.

The software keeps getting better, I file my simple user level bug reports and tweaks to various projects.

I'm happy with slow incremental progress with few mistakes. End users don't switch their OS because it's better, they switch because they've gotten frustrated with the horrible quality/performance of the one they've got.

BTW what is this we and leader you talk of. I'm not in your market share seeking we, and ESR isn't my leader.

Re:Finally (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353896)

Finally someone of our leaders

ESR? A leader? Hahahahahaha....

Re:Finally (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353900)

Finally someone of our leaders said what was needed to say

You consider ESR a leader? Plus your whole "end justifies the means" notion kinda contradicts the spirit of Linux and open software, don't you think?

Re:Finally (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353910)

Linux already has unquestionably strong market share. It's just a question of which market you care about.

Re:Finally (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354026)

More to the point, Linux has multiple market shares, shares that Microsoft (and other OS vendors) are having difficulty entering. Everyone is so focused on Linux competing with Windows that they forget the embedded space, where Linux is pretty much the reigning champion. Any successful attempt to make the Linux kernel "illegal" or otherwise too dangerous to use from a legal perspective will run into a lot of opposition from hardware vendors. They need Linux almost as much as mammals need air.

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354004)

I'll third the claim that ESR is not a leader. He's more of a pundit. He has very little open source software to his credit, and the people that tried to use it say it's bad. I think that's more software than Robert X. Cringely has to his credit, but at least Cringely is a little amusing and a little bit educational, I can't say that ESR is either.

I do think that he may have said what needed to be said. That doesn't make him a leader though.

Re:Finally (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354098)

The problem isn't just that ESR is a third-rate coder; it's that he puts himself forward as a first-rate one.

Consistency would be nice (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354192)

No im not arguing for everything to be the same, but some back end consistency out of the box would be very nice. While with a bit a jiggery and pokery I can get a workstation up and running and doing all those naughty things like listening to mp3 files after an hour after setup.

OK now - moving from one distro to another is a right pain - depending on who you believe and while i dont mind redoing config files and shifting data, quite why basic things change and what works in the old dont in the new makes things 'fun'

Case in point reiser fs now is 'not good', some distros out there today prefer to format with ext3. I had backups but since the new linux didnt do a few things that the old one did guess which one im using now.

Vista 32-bit? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353764)

From TFA:

Vista is still 32-bit.

Uhh... no. Vista is available as a native 64-bit OS for x86-64 systems. The kernel is 64-bit, the drivers are 64-bit, and most applications are 64-bit. Is everything 64-bit? No. Is everything on a typical x86-64 Linux distribution 64-bit? No.

once upon a time (-1, Troll)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353782)

This really misses the point.

WHY would I adopt linux ?

contrary to what people may thing , security is just not that big a deal; (the New York Times had a story this fall about how most ID theft is people you know - family, friends)

People will adopt linux when there is a reason.

The moral from what most be far and away the #1 success of linux/open source/whatever you want to call it is firefox.

People like me downloaded and used fire fox cause it was better then IE.
let me repeat that: firefox did something usefull
The M$ stuff was , if people even knew about it, irrelevant.

Rather then worrying about stuff you can't fix, like driver support, worry about patenting, and giving to the open source community, but not the closed source community, rights to software that does things people want.

If you build it, they will come - remember what made the pc revolution in the first place: visicalc. It did something, and people were willing ot put up with the insanely poor clunky $$ performance of pre AT IBMs. (I'm not talking about nor care about the small % of the market that bought amigas or whatever - need to focus on the big picture)

You MUSST have the patent, to keep MS/sun/ibm etc out

One thing that might work in small science orientated companies is server side OS, so we can get rid of these stupid pcs and put everything back on the server where it belongs (contradicting myself a small market [in tech companies, there are a lot of instruments that generate digital data, such as spectrophotometers, etc etc, and having seperate pcs for the data is a real disaster]])

what might this killer app software look like ?
How about wiki/slashcode/my sql apache package that grandma can download and install ? (wiki has no quality control, you get that from the slashcode)
how about school software, that both trains the kids and runs the schools std web stie, etc - there is a large market that is cost sensitiv, and allows you to capitilize on linux's strengths.
how about a set of high school and college text books, with closed problem sets for teachers, driven by the insane cost of textbooks ?
those are pretty pathetic ideas

MS is just so easy. I am probably going to get a new laptop after xmas, to replace my 2001 HP, and it is so easy to get the default and so hard to get the linux - WHY should i bother

Answer that, and linux will take over the world. But forget about anyone caring about M$ as a driver.

Re:once upon a time (1)

nowhere.elysium (924845) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354088)

I don't see why this guy has been modded a troll: he's got a point - Joe Public isn't going to know/understand/care about what *we* know that Linux is better at (threading, security, flexibility, adaptibility, customisation etc.) - they're after something that's a no-thought-required interface (after all, what's an OS to the average 'user'?), which works straight away. One of the biggest arguments I have with my friends about Linux is that it takes work to get it going properly: I'm not talking about getting the core OS up and running - that's easy these days; I'm talking about the seemingly silly things, like flash playback, java support, DVD and mp3 support. The kind of things that the great unwashed are going to care about, as soon as they're aware of it presenting a problem.
At the moment, I'm running xubuntu on my old(ish) Athlon system; it's sweet as anything. However, the fact that I had to 1) change the sources.list a bit, 2) independently install Flash on the command line 3) install VLC and then run install-css.sh to get DVDs playing, and then 4) set up xmms to play mp3s - this is trivial stuff, you all know, but it's unnecessary arseache for the average user to do.

Please, please don't bang on about the free alternatives: you'll be missing the point, if you do. I know that .ogg is a nicer format, but until Apple 'allows' it, no-one's going to know or care, outside of the geek community.

Where's the foot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353812)

Why am I not seeing the bloody Monty Python foot?
Also, I am a bit drunk on glögi. Happy Agnostica everybody!

pay the fee, get legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353834)

I don't know about other distros, but Linspire/Freespire got around it, pubically acknowledging the suckiness part of software patents, etc, by realising that people want a functional desktop especially with media playback, so they paid the licensing fees, yes, even for DVD playback. (I am talking US here, other nations YMMV on that) That's it, that is what is required for linux on the desktop for the home user, pay the fees for that 1% of code that requires it. They also are trying hard for OEM installs, which is how the vast majority of people get their operating systems in the first place. And before the trolls hit, no, running as root is not mandatory at all so you can stop that, and they do offer fully free downloadable versions, they issue code upstream, and they are trying their best for a polished desktop so that the user experience is as painless as possible and so that the most hardware is detected and working. Near as I can see that's about all a company could do at this time given the situation as it really is.

Joke got out of hand... (2, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353858)

I'm sure Linus originally talked about World Domination as a joke. A funny. Everyone laughed. He didn't really mean it. ESR means it. And he has guns.

Why do we want Linux to be popular? (0, Redundant)

Kiba Ruby (1037440) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353878)

Why do we want the average users to use linux? Because it is better? Because it is Free softwares? What the linux community can gain from having a larger userbase? Fame? Money? If using proprietary softwares is the way to achieves linux popularity is the way to do it. But are we willing to pay the price of non-freedom? Or we simply don't care? Even if we justify it as a way to gain more freedom in the long term. I fear that we will go down the slippy slopes of being dependent on proprietary softwares. Not good. It is like the bitkeeper scenario that the linux kernel face. I ask you, slashdot audience, is popularity more important than freedom? Or you don't care about freedom?

Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353974)

Because we want more hardware companies to make their stuff compatible with our OS.
And we want more game companies to produce Linux versions of their games.
I want to be able to take my laptop to places without having to explain that "it's called Linux. It's another operating system, like Windows XP"

Re:Why do we want Linux to be popular? (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354002)

Sarcasm?

Re:Why do we want Linux to be popular? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17354062)

The answer is simple. When Vista comes out, if it gets popular, there will be no middle ground, no sharing between Microsoft and Linux. Vista has so much of a lock in factor in both hardware and data formats, that it will eventually become impossible to install Linux on a PC. Things like Trusted Computing, remote attestation, patents, and the Vista secure hardware requirements will make sure of this. Vista is Microsofts last chance to keep their monopoly, and they are doing everything they can to keep that monopoly.

The only alternative is to get enough users to rely on Linux, that there will be enough pressure on governments and hardware manufacturers to stop Vista and Microsoft from getting this ultimate lock in. Then we might have a chance to stop this before its too late.

2008? Two years away? 3 year exception? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353916)

So, not that I am proposing this, but the last time I read this ESR proposal/item, I wondered if anyone is suggesting a three year mini, tightly restricted exemption to allow ESR's proposal to fly, or is everyone pushing this suggesting that we must give in and grant and unending exemption?

all the best,

drew

1999 called they want ESR back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17353922)

ESR is about as relevant as MC Hammer...

Won't work out the way he thinks (1)

Cheesy Fool (530943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353940)

"When you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you."

Ok, so if Linux gains market share most of this are gonna be Windows users who don't care about open source and just want to get things done. So, even though there is a bigger "community", most people in it just don't care.

The desktop on Linux on the desktop (5, Insightful)

SoupIsGood Food (1179) | more than 7 years ago | (#17353960)

Well... first off, it's got nothing to do with Linux. What we're talking about is a user interface that runs on top of X-windows. As such, it will run comfortably on any flavor of BSD or commercial Unix, and even stranger operating systems.

Second off, we're talking about a vast set of tools. Gnome is nice, KDE is nice, but they're pieces of a larger puzzle that includes X-windowing systems, and all of their assorted tools, drivers, and niceties, window managers, and applications that may or may not be designed to work within the look-and-feel guidelines of anything recognizeable at all. The problem space is way to big for any one person or organization to just decide, "Hey everyone, we're all gonna be doing THIS!"

Open source software grows and evolves as programmers scratch an itch. You can't crack the whip, as the project will just fork as programmers follow whatever their interest is... commercial, educational, political or just for the hell of coding something neat. It would be nice if everyone could assume a role that's perfectly suited for some master-plan to reach some goal... but they won't. Human nature is in the way.

Open Source Software is not a place where a single goal achieved by everyone working in unison is possible. Yes, Linux itself is cool... but how many variants, patches and forks of it are out there? Quite a few... people take what they need, and follow their own interest. This is what open source software is about. Even then, there's more than Linux: there are the three (Four... five?) BSD-based operating systems, and things like SkyOS and Haiku, besides.

In this maelstrom of variation and choice, you want a single standard UI? Not going to happen. What's more, it will likely work against Linux on the desktop rather than for it. Gnome came about because they didn't like KDE, and wanted something with different political and technical goals. KDE came about because the company had a different commercial and technical goal than Motif. Can you imagine how much it would suck if everyone working on KDE and Gnome were forced to work on making a better Motif? We're better off with many projects working for their own ends. Open Source means that the projects cna pick and chose what they like from each other, everyone wins.

Then there's the issue that Gnustep isn't a part of the discussion, despite being an Open Source re-implementation of the UI Apple uses for Mac OS X... so if the best solution isn't going to "win" anyway, it's pointless whining that the third or fourth best solution isn't getting all the attention. (And, as you've figured out, the order from "best" to "worst" won't be the same for everyone... or even a majority.)

In the end, it's up to the commercial distro-makers to decide what works for them, and to pay programmers and project leads and software architects to make it happen. The interface for the OLTP project shows how to get it done, and done on a shoestring budget in a tight time constraint.

Alright, I've got the answer... (1)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354016)

MacOSX has the best GUI, hands down. The BSD underpinnings are nice, but Linux has better driver support. So, switch MacOSX from BSD to Linux ;-). Let Linux work out the compatibility with hardware, let Apple run the GUI, and voila, you have your next dominant OS.

If you think so... (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354270)

Put more work behind GNUstep. The natural evolution of GNUstep is a viable OSX alternative.

He's Right. A view from the Trenches. (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354120)

This is the way we are pushing free software at the Cajun Clickers Computer Club [clickers.org] , one of the oldest and largest computer clubs around. As much as I favor 100% free systems, the easiest way to move people is through distributions like Xandros, Mepis and others that include non free "add-ons" that give the user those few things free does not: Flash, and accelerated video. I also highly recommend Parallels to those other nasty little things that are left. It's working too. People who use a combination of free and non free come to understand that their pain comes from non free. I can see 15% Linux Desktop penetration this year, followed by the 30% tipping point in 2009. The media content will follow that tipping point because it always courts the audience wherever it can. Free Software has not gone away and it is the future because of it.

The biggest draw right now is that Linux is the easiest way for them to move into the future. Thanks to the porting and popularity of Firefox, Open Office, Gimp and other applications to Windoze, Linux is now the easiest way for the majority of users to keep using these best of class applications. 32 bit versions are good enough for users that just don't want to be forced to spend $2000 on new hardware. The security and stability of free software is very important - current Windoze users are fed up with all of the absurd crap [slashdot.org] they have to do to keep Windoze working. Commercial Linux gives them what they want right now and does so with much less trouble than an XP install.

Microsoft has done a lot to undermine themselves through DRM and that combined with the usual upgrade is going to wreck them. Vista does not provide the path to media because DRM screws it up. Serious A/V people are going to continue to buy set top boxes to get their media for much less cost and effort than it takes to do things through M$. A $30 DVD player will feed your big screen TV and audio system just as well as an Xbox does right now. Now combine that with Nothing in Vista and Office 2007 being familiar. I watched someone try to save a Word Doc as .doc instead of .docx on a new computer last week. Smoke poured out of her ears as she pushed her usual shortcuts and looked in vain at the remaining menu items. Sooner or later I asked her what the flashing light was and there she found a save as item. She had given up already. I have to wonder if the light would have flashed at all for a patient person like myself who does not know the goofy keyboard shortcut. Open Office is much easier than that and KDE has all the bling Vista does without the pain. Free software has a very good desktop for a very dissatisfied user base. Power users already know this and are looking at Linux as an escape. The other users will follow if we can move those user now. Things have never been easier.

Any Fact Checking? (3, Insightful)

tqbf (59350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354200)

Microsoft made $3.5 billion (net) last quarter alone, and has enough cash on hand to buy a company the size of Home Depot outright.

Absurd. Home Depot is the second largest retailer in the world, with top-line revenue exceeding $80bn and quarterly gross profits of over $6bn. Microsoft has net tangible assets of only $35bn. HD is in the top 20 of the Fortune 500, Microsoft is #48.

In the parallel universe of business that ESR inhabits, Microsoft still has more to worry about from HD than the other way around. What other completely obvious things do ESR and his co-author get wrong in this essay?

32 bit, 64 bit, doesn't matter a bit (1)

hey (83763) | more than 7 years ago | (#17354258)

Some technical details like licensing for codecs matter but whether a OS is 32 bit, 64 bit just don't matter. Its cheapens his whole argument by even mentioning this. For a user its: "can I click on this movie to watch it" that matters. Or can I open and edit this document without loss of fidelity.
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