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Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit Leaves Desktop Linux Behind

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the time-to-push-back-on-corporatization dept.

Linux Business 212

Linux.com's Joe Barr has an interesting commentary about the recent Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit and the astounding lack of attention for desktop Linux. Now, a great deal of the monetary support driving Linux these days comes from companies with a vested interest in "big iron" but hopefully this won't completely eclipse the rest of the community. "Before I learned that the press was not welcome in any of the working-meetings at the summit on days 2 and 3, I saw and heard rumblings of discontent from more than one ordinary Linux desktop user. One example: a top-ten list of inhibitors to Linux adoption, created by a committee of foundation members, contained nothing at all relating to desktop usage. Nothing. Everything on the list was about back-room usage. Servers. Big iron."

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212 comments

Uh Oh (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 years ago | (#23066520)

I guess 2008 won't be the year of Linux on the desktop?

Re:Uh Oh (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | about 6 years ago | (#23066964)

The year of Linux on the desktop was probably 2004 or 2005.

If you're waiting for Linux to wipe out the competition, it's not going to happen. It's just going to be a long, slow growth curve as both MacOS and Linux suck up increasingly large chunks of Microsoft's market share.

Re:Uh Oh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067164)

And then you go back to WoW and wake up of your pathetic dream... Linux desktop is like their users: unable to reproduce, and schizophrenic lonely...

Re:Uh Oh (0, Flamebait)

TheAngryIntern (785323) | about 6 years ago | (#23067214)

It would be nice if the douchebags that come here to flame someone would have the balls to log in and post with their slashdot username. I guess the "anonymous coward" thing fits, eh?

Re:Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067266)

so... you want them to intentionally lower their karma? Ya... good luck with that.

Re:Uh Oh (1)

strabes (1075839) | about 6 years ago | (#23067314)

One could, in fact, play WoW natively in linux if that was how one wished to spend one's extra free time gained from not running virus checks, deleting spyware, clicking "allow", starting up, shutting down, rebooting, and defragmenting the pathetic NTFS filesystem. "Linux desktop is... unable to reproduce." You must be blind.

Re:Uh Oh (2, Insightful)

Tawnos (1030370) | about 6 years ago | (#23067604)

Because there's a lot of user time spent looking at each individual file for viruses, and everyone who runs Windows must have spyware. Obviously, that half a second to click "allow" is eating up years of our lives, and we must reboot daily or things never work. To top it all off, we have to keep doing things to make the "NTFS filesystem (NT filesystem filesystem...)" work.

You know, compared to all the time spent running apt-get to check for software updates, running netstat to check for ports that shouldn't be open to the world but for some reason are, deleting and reinstalling 50 libraries to fix a dependency hell broken by the aforementioned apt-get update, and trying to defragment reiserfs only to realize you can't, so going back to ext3, which isn't much better (or worse) than NTFS.

Both systems have their upsides. Both have their downsides. Let's at least try for a little intellectual honesty when comparing them, instead of using hyperbole and strawmen to say why OS 1 sucks but OS 2 should run the world.

Re:Uh Oh (4, Insightful)

gmack (197796) | about 6 years ago | (#23067904)

You know, compared to all the time spent running apt-get to check for software updates,

Strange that's done automatically for me

running netstat to check for ports that shouldn't be open to the world but for some reason are

,

This was fixed two years ago AFIK

deleting and reinstalling 50 libraries to fix a dependency hell broken by the aforementioned apt-get update,

This only happens in debian unstable. Complaining about it is like complaining about bugs in a Beta windows release

and trying to defragment reiserfs only to realize you can't, so going back to ext3, which isn't much better (or worse) than NTFS.

Reiserfs doesn't defrag because it's designed not to need to defrag.. same goes for XFS and the other more modern filesystems

I'm amazed this is the list you came up with when questioning other people's intellectual honesty

Not Likely (2, Insightful)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 6 years ago | (#23067464)

There's a breaking point when it comes to adoption of both Linux and MacOS (though Mac has more potential)

Linux will slowly bring over the technical crowd, though most of the ones who are going to switch already have. You just have some niches left and the "less technical techies" who will still convert.

MacOS has made great strides in woo'ing the "stylish elite", and the "wealthy cool kids"....but they still lack a wide selection of applications, and the price-point that would convert the "average web surfer".

Re:Not Likely (3, Informative)

Builder (103701) | about 6 years ago | (#23068004)

They lack a wide selection of applications? Care to justify that?

I can run almost anything that I can on Linux on OS X, but there is a lot from OS X that I _can't_ run on Linux.

Re:Not Likely (1)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | about 6 years ago | (#23068688)

I'm not talking about the standard Word/Excel/PhotoShop/Multimedia apps.

I'm talking about things that promote product adoption such as.....accounting suites, scientific apps, games, collaboration tools (mature ones), and even niche programs.

Re:Not Likely (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 6 years ago | (#23068380)

MacOS has made great strides in woo'ing the "stylish elite", and the "wealthy cool kids"....but they still lack a wide selection of applications, and the price-point that would convert the "average web surfer".

The Mac is not so successful on the desktop, but is making great strides in the laptop market.
Apple isn't offering anything in the low price range, though; that would probably help them even more, though lately I've met quite a few people willing to save up to buy a Mac. Besides, in the upper middle class of laptops, Macs are quite comparable in price to equivalent PC laptops. They're just prettier, more polished, and come with a better OS and less crapware installed.

Re:Not Likely - Bullocks! (2, Interesting)

Spudds (860292) | about 6 years ago | (#23068422)

Pure poppycock!

I myself know a handful of people that I or friends have "converted" for various reasons. All the converts are very non-technical and they are all very happy with linux. Between the "No viruses? At all? Wow!" to "That moving cube thing is Awesome!" to "That's all I have to do to install software? And it's all free?!!" they are very, very happy with it.

Breaking point my right butt cheek.

It will take a long time for Linux to claim the majority of the desktops, but it is an absolute eventuality.

Re:Not Likely (4, Insightful)

ajs (35943) | about 6 years ago | (#23068676)

There's a breaking point when it comes to adoption of both Linux and MacOS (though Mac has more potential)
No, no there isn't. There, that was as easy to say as the reverse. Let's look at your points in more detail and see why you think that:

Linux will slowly bring over the technical crowd,
That was last decade's news. The news today is that an increasingly large number of younger folks are finding that their friends are using "the latest thing" under Linux, and there's a certain chic in using it. Ubuntu and the various "social apps" have really pushed this envelope.

The next wave has begun, and that's the push to create highly market-specific Linux desktop offerings. You've already seen this in the "just mail, IM and Web" boxes that have been sold recently by large corporations. There are already offerings in the digital film-making arena, and then there's the mobile world which you may or may not conflate with the desktop world, depending on how you see things merging or not.

MacOS has made great strides in woo'ing the "stylish elite", and the "wealthy cool kids".
More and more, the people I see using Mac laptops are the young and upwardly mobile that fall pretty much smack in the middle of the demographic space. They're not wealthy, but they've had their first taste of financial success. This is where Mac laptop purchasing has been exploding, at least in the social circles I've been observing.

but they still lack a wide selection of applications
EH?! You haven't used a Linux or MacOS system recently have you? It's not the selection that limits their adoption. There's a gigantic selection, and in some domains (e.g. digital media for Mac) the selection is broader than other platforms. The limiting factor is and always has been Microsoft's proprietary application suite. If you've ever tried to get Office for Mac to read a file from Office for Windows and been thwarted, you know exactly how Microsoft keeps their market share.

People don't want "selection," they want the apps that "everyone else uses."

the price-point that would convert the "average web surfer".
No one avoids Linux for the price-point. There are $200, fairly nice boxes at your local WalMart running Linux.

Macs are more expensive, but they have a brand loyalty that's hard to contend with.

Re:Uh Oh (1)

nschubach (922175) | about 6 years ago | (#23067534)

Linux winning in any facet of business desktops would be a huge hit to Microsoft. I'm guessing they are referring to Desktop Linux as Home PCs, and not workstations? Either way, if Linux makes inroads to people's work desks, then it will naturally turn into users looking for similar home PCs. However, and Microsoft may be predicting this move in their recent gaming/entertainment push instead of stability/productivity. I can't totally rule out the idea of going to work in a Linux environment (all business) and coming home to a game/movie on a Microsoft box.

Re:Uh Oh (2, Insightful)

kdemetter (965669) | about 6 years ago | (#23067606)

Actually , the linux desktop is doing quite nice on some distro's . If you take the most recent Ubuntu for example , you can easily the advancements they made , compared a few years ago. Properietary drivers are easier to install on linux than on windows , at the moment . But as always , linux isn't windows . So if by 'the perfect linux desktop' you expect a perfect windows clone , that's just not going to happen .

Punctuation Nazi (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067750)

see your signature for correct usage of punctuation. YOU DON'T PUT SPACES BEFORE COMMAS AND PERIODS. You might as well just put them before apostrophes as well why don ' t you ?

Re:Uh Oh (4, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | about 6 years ago | (#23067668)

For me, the year of Linux was 2006. That was the year that I came out of my office into my living room where my wife was having a "Moms Club" play date for the kids. As I poured myself a cup of coffee, I heard three of the stay at home moms discussing the move to Linux for their home computers. One had already moved, one was currently trying it out, and the third had heard of Linux but had not tried it. When stay at home moms are discussing Linux, it has obviously reached its "Year".

Re:Uh Oh (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067720)

When you sit there and drink coffee, instead of feeding it to those stay at home moms in a giant orgy of sin, then I say that you're too addicted to coffee.

Re:Uh Oh (4, Interesting)

westlake (615356) | about 6 years ago | (#23067910)

It's just going to be a long, slow growth curve as both MacOS and Linux suck up increasingly large chunks of Microsoft's market share.

Growth curve?

What growth curve?

Top Operating System Share Trend [By Versions] [hitslink.com]
Top Operating System Share Trend [hitslink.com]

I've played pool tables with a more visible slope than this particular measure of the trend line for Linux - and since these are web based stats, I am going to assume that the numbers for Vista for real.

- - a fair representation of Vista's strength in the consumer market.

20% by the end of in April. 50% probably no later than late summer or early fall. The Back-To-School sale.

In the W3Schools OS Platform Statistics [w3schools.com] it took OSX and Linux five years to edge up from 4% to 8% of the market - and these stats track the pro, the web developer.

Re:Uh Oh (4, Insightful)

Qwerpafw (315600) | about 6 years ago | (#23067188)

Linux on the desktop shouldn't be the goal anymore - 2008 is the year of linux on the laptop.

Vista won't run well on the increasingly popular lightweight and low end laptops like the eepc, olpc xo, and what are sure to be many imitators. People have demonstrated they're willing to use linux on these machines, and Microsoft has demonstrated they Don't Get It.

Re:Uh Oh (0)

sherpajohn (113531) | about 6 years ago | (#23067728)

Linux on the desktop shouldn't be the goal anymore - 2008 is the year of linux on the laptop.

Vista won't run well on the increasingly popular lightweight and low end laptops like the eepc, olpc xo, and what are sure to be many imitators. People have demonstrated they're willing to use linux on these machines, and Microsoft has demonstrated they Don't Get It.
Increasingly popular with who? From 0 to something is certainly an increase. I certainly would not want a low end laptop to replace my old, but fairly high end at the time desktop. It just won't do what I want it to. For those who these new low end laptops cater too, its fantastic linux is working out well for them. But its not likely to be running on my desktop or my laptop (it is not personal, its my work laptop) any time soon.

Funny thing in the article though, it says how the big players won't *make* money pushing Linux on the desktop, but if your company has let say 300,000 desktops, would you not *save* a lot of money if you pushed for linux on your desktops?

Re:Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23068514)

299,000 whiney bitches complaining that things don't work exactly the same as they used to will suck up a lot of support time.

Re:Uh Oh (1)

kris.montpetit (1265946) | about 6 years ago | (#23068166)

Agreed. Although my hope is a couple linux OS's become major household desktop names just to keep Mac OS on it's toes during this transition. If microsoft has proven anything, its that monopolies are bad. very bad.

Re:Uh Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23068038)

I mean, basically the problem is, Desktop Linux is "too hard to be profitable". It's one thing to introduce a good product into a market that's already hardened to the kind of bleeding-edge close-to-the-metal performance-sensitivity that high-end servers usually represent, it's another thing to fight the Desktop trolls.
For years, Windows has dominated the expectations of the consumer Desktop market, and has made its mark:
"Where's my control panel? Where's the start button?" It's a challenge that requires a lot of R&D money, a lot of advertisement money, a lot of support money, all of which MS has and Novell, HP, Mozilla, etc. just don't have (or don't have the balls to invest it in such a high-risk market)
I'm sure for a lot of these companies that desktop Linux is too much of a risk for anyone to take, despite the promise Ubuntu has shown in reaching beginner users.

Stay away annoying journalists. (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 years ago | (#23066560)

TFA is very sniffy about press not being allowed in the technical sessions. As far as I'm concerned they can bloody well stay away for good.

When engineers get together in technical meetings in standards groups, SIGs and the like, they have deep technical and commercial problems to solve that leads to long, difficult, nuanced discussions, all aimed at getting to a solution that will work, get implemented and be commercially feasible.

What no one involved needs is the press sticking their noses in and printing these arguments in the press, dressing them up like some narrative in a thriller. Its happened to me several times and every time, the uninvited journalist got it hopelessly wrong, presenting technical work as interpersonal bickering and being clueless on the technical matters.

Journalists are a pox on standards meetings. They can eff right off.

When the journalists turn up, propose work items on desktop issues and promise not to run away and write up events in some rag, they will have dragged themselves out of the bottom of the barrel.

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (4, Insightful)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | about 6 years ago | (#23066764)

When the journalists turn up, propose work items on desktop issues and promise not to run away and write up events in some rag, they will have dragged themselves out of the bottom of the barrel.
Joe Barr is not just any journalist where Linux is concerned. He is right that this "summit" was non-representative. We are getting a lot of that lately, just look at all the Linux invite-only "summits" going on, with key players not invited.

This particular "summit" seemed largely useless to me. I don't really know anybody who cares about it or even knew about it other then the participants.

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (3, Insightful)

asc99c (938635) | about 6 years ago | (#23067150)

The Linux open-source model is fundamentally open and this sort of thing is a consequence. A group of interested parties have got together to discuss the problems getting Linux adopted in an area they are interested in. Hopefully they will decide what they can improve and go away and do it. With companies like IBM involved, there isn't great need for the community to implement the stuff. They aren't breaking Linux on the desktop - just improving it on big-iron servers. There's no need for it to be 'representative'. It's quite valid for a few companies to hold a closed meeting and do what they want without outside interruption. The source code will make its way into the world and if the key players who weren't invited / represented think it's doing something useful it will get further modified and brought into distros like Ubuntu.

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (3, Interesting)

yuna49 (905461) | about 6 years ago | (#23068082)

Calling yourselves "The Linux Foundation" suggests a degree of breadth and openness that this group clearly does not demonstrate. I don't have a problem with corporations holding meetings to determine what they might undertake collectively, but then call it what it is, the "Corporate Linux Users Foundation" or something like that. It's nice that they pay Linus's salary, I guess, but do you really think Novell or RedHat or IBM would tell him to take a hike if he offered to work at one of those places instead?

I wonder what kind of access you get for an individual affiliate membership of $25 [linux-foundation.org]? Somehow I doubt they'd pay much attention to me compared to those Platinum sponsors at $500K. Reading the Bylaws [linux-foundation.org] tells me only that as an affiliate member I can't vote for members of the Board, vote to dissolve the Foundation, etc. Other than that, whatever privileges Affiliates get is determined by the Board. I didn't see a list of those privileges, but I can't claim to have scoured the site.

And, doesn't Adobe have a few interests on the desktop?

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (2, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | about 6 years ago | (#23066898)

And given this article, you can see why they set the policy they did!

Anyway, it's not as if the "ordinary Linux desktop user" doesn't have any other opportunities to loudly voice his opinion. (If nothing else, he can just write Linus an email!) It doesn't seem surprising that a meeting focused on high-end servers doesn't want to open the floor to a bunch of Ubuntu fanboys to squabble about WiFi driver configuration.

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (2, Funny)

BigGerman (541312) | about 6 years ago | (#23067616)

really? When was last time that something "that will work, get implemented and be commercially feasible" came out of some meeting?

Re:Stay away annoying journalists. (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 years ago | (#23068348)

>really? When was last time that something "that will work, get implemented and be commercially feasible" came out of some meeting?

Several standards beginning in 802.

Big Business is ten years behind (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 6 years ago | (#23066594)

It looks like Big Business is about ten years behind the industry curve. If my understanding is correct, big business will start paying attention to Desktop Linux in about eight more years, when they start replacing Windows with Linux Desktops.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (1)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | about 6 years ago | (#23066658)

Sorry? Isn't big business *the* industry curve?

What is your definition of industry curve?

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (2, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 years ago | (#23066958)

i think he's referring to "industry curve" as the software industry. basically, what software developers are making vs. what software major businesses are using.

i'd say his lead time is a bit off (i'd cut that to maybe 5 or 7 years), but the concept holds that major businesses are slow to change to the new latest-and-greatest software. i'm sure there are still places transitioning to XP still.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 6 years ago | (#23067134)

An interesting philosophy. I don't think I know enough technically to make a good evaluation of what I think about this, but 5-7 years does sound about right for when "everyone is using linux/macOS". I figure one more release of windows that is so horrid that even non pc literate folks are able to decide to figure out a linux distro instead. Follow that up with 1 more release of windows that fits into "nobody cares" and then everyone will abandon completely. Definitely seems to be heading towards that way little by little.

I'll be celebrating the day it comes, but it is nice to know that it is at least coming, albeit a bit slow. I admit I had some computer illiterate customers I couldn't transition them away from windows and even they (1yr ago) didn't want to go to vista.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (2, Interesting)

nicklott (533496) | about 6 years ago | (#23066922)

I think you have cause and effect mixed up. Linux desktops will start replacing windows when Big Business starts paying attention.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | about 6 years ago | (#23068248)

I think you have cause and effect mixed up. Linux desktops will start replacing windows when Big Business starts paying attention.

someday, perhaps, the geek may realize that the PC market splintered into distinct segments a long time ago.

that placement on the enterprise desktop doesn't give you anything more than placement on the enterprise desktop.

but I am not holding my breath.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (4, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 6 years ago | (#23066942)

It looks like Big Business is about ten years behind the industry curve
How so? The article never adequately addresses the fact that the Linux Foundation is populated by people who use linux on servers. Why should he be surprised that these people are focusing on server issues?

The author worries about the developers ignoring the linux desktop without seeming to realize that the kernel hackers use linux as their desktop. He doesn't mention the scheduler changes to make it more friendly to the desktop. In fact, he comes across as a pouting child who wants their desktop worked on before the servers.

Is it that hard to realize that the linux foundation is about servers and keeping market share in the area of servers while ubuntu and the kernel hackers focus on making the desktop faster? Right now server linux is a business, desktop linux is a side note. Asking them to focus on the desktop at the expense of their big platforms is dumb and short sighted.

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (1)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | about 6 years ago | (#23067206)

I agree with this view. Being one of those "hometown hero" techies, I see the sluggishness of both the corporate offices I've worked in and my own parents to move from "what works" to "what works best." I have some more geeky friends who have sold their girlfriends and even a few unsuspecting bystanders on the virtues of Ubuntu or some other distro, but it's hardly going to penetrate into the enclave of workstation hell or any other large business model anytime soon, let alone the home living room.

Plus, doesn't this just make sense? From bleeding edge to common usage there is a trend, and a time span. Why do we, those who repute ourselves as being fairly up-to-date, malign "sluggishness" of big business, when it would be like asking the titantic to steer like a surfboard to behave like we do. We can ride the crest of technology, they have to stay in deep water.

Should business have adopted linux a long time ago? No doubt, but only in the same way that most superior technologies are slighted in deference to tradition and apathy. Why doesn't the US use metric yet? or why don't we all type in Dvorak? I guess I share the frustation, but unless there's some conspiracy going that actively opposes the adoption of Linux or other alternate M$ technologies, I'm not sure what's news about this.

People will be listening to pop music in 8 years, even though we all know its terrible, middle-of-the-road, mediocre crap. It fits waiting rooms because it challenges nobody. In the same way, Windows fits the office space, and the home desktop. .02

Re:Big Business is ten years behind (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 6 years ago | (#23068042)

Sure it will, and they'll just toss all the investment in other software they bought that only runs on Windows too. Sure. Absolutely.

Linux on the desktop (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23066604)

Linux on the desktop is like Windows in server space. It's just wrong and you know it.

No windows compition (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 6 years ago | (#23066664)

This is what prevents linux from being and alternative to Windows. It provides no competition 99% of computer users. Thus the M$ monopoply (apple doesn't count).

Re:No windows compition (2, Interesting)

east coast (590680) | about 6 years ago | (#23066882)

And why exactly shouldn't Apple count? Don't get me wrong, I'm not fanboi and I've never been tempted to "swing on that side" except for my iPod, but Apple should be counted.

Granted, it's a different business model and a different product offering from Linux but if anything Apple should show that the mythical Windows stranglehold on the desktop is just that, mythical. Apple has gotten to the places that I heard that Linux was going to be in 5 years ago. They've actually done it, it's not a lot of talk and hype. For Apple it's as real as the dollars in their bank account. If anything the target users that Linux was suppose to rope in went Apple. I think that it's important for the Linux community to understand why and how.

I personally only had a minor interest in Linux and it went south for several reasons that I've ranted on about before. If I were forced to take up a new machine running either OSX or Linux today I would give Apple a try. Linux for me has turned into the "been there, done that" bad experience of computing for me. And even in the years that I've been following Linux both as an interested bystander and for a while as a user I still see the desktop Linux revolution as a bunch of vaporware.

Maybe something will happen, maybe I'll change my mind. But I wouldn't place bets on it. And turning away from Apple as not counting is a grave mistake in understanding what it's going to take to get Linux the kind of marketshare that Apple has proven to be available.

Windows will not dominate forever, no. But I don't think it will be Linux that will take it's place on the desktop.

Re:No windows compition (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 6 years ago | (#23067010)

And why exactly shouldn't Apple count?

The answer is real simple. I cannot purchase and get support for the OS on my PC. You have to buy single source hardware.

Re:No windows compition (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | about 6 years ago | (#23067130)

They still made the headway with such vendor lock-in? Even more reason to see what they did right because they're obviously against the grain of everything everyone around here said about why the Linux revolution would happen. They obviously did something so right that all the things that people claim were going to be the death of MS appears to be working out fine for Apple and even under harsher conditions.

Re:No windows compition (1)

Plaid Phantom (818438) | about 6 years ago | (#23068078)

The reason is pretty clear to me: marketing. Apple has managed to brand itself among consumers as the 'sexy, easy-to-use' alternative to Microsoft. Linux is still viewed by many as 'that geeky thing those nerds are obsessed with', if they know what it is at all.

Re:No windows compition[sic] (2, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 6 years ago | (#23067538)

And why exactly shouldn't Apple count? Don't get me wrong, I'm not fanboi and I've never been tempted to "swing on that side" except for my iPod, but Apple should be counted.

I don't know what the previous poster was intending. OS X and Linux are both being used on the desktop. In the US they count together as something nearing 10%. They count even more if you're counting all the new devices, like smart phones, that are starting to take over some of the tasks traditionally reserved for the desktop (Web browsing).

On the other hand, if you're looking at things in terms of markets, neither OS X nor Linux counts as part of the "desktop OS" market the EU is referring to in their antitrust actions against MS. The main customers for desktop OS's are large organizations (business and government) and even larger PC OEMs. Apple refuses to sell their OS into this market because it monopolized and there is no business case. Linux is licensed such that it is not salable. Most Linux development shops do so because they are users and use it to sell other products, in many cases support and services using Linux or (like Apple) hardware that ships with Linux pre-installed.

So considering the latter perspective, no Linux and OS X do not count in terms of whether the desktop OS market is monopolized, but they certainly do count if you're just trying to figure out install base for other reasons.

Granted, it's a different business model and a different product offering from Linux but if anything Apple should show that the mythical Windows stranglehold on the desktop is just that, mythical.

It is true that MS is slowly losing install share to Apple and for that matter to Linux on the desktop, although that is really just getting started in the mainstream. This should not, however, dissuade one from understanding that it is a poor investment to try to compete in the desktop OS market. The ROI is terrible because unlike healthy markets your investment is partly wasted chasing MS's intentional un-interoperability. Further, since MS has multiple monopolies you have to commit to investing in all the markets they influence or finding partners to do so. This includes server OS's, hardware, end user applications, some services, media downloads, gaming systems, etc.

If anything the target users that Linux was suppose to rope in went Apple. I think that it's important for the Linux community to understand why and how.

I have personally seen a big move to OS X on the desktop from former Linux on the desktop users. In the security industry it has been a revolution. I can think of several reasons why this seems to be including:

  • - Most pertinent to this article, the main use of Linux has been on the server and Linux on the desktop has been unable to make revolutionary changes that might cause any disadvantage for Linux's use as a server (often this is simply in the name of preventing "bloat" and instability).
  • - Linux development is dispersed among many companies with less organization and much, much less hierarchy. There is no Steve Jobs of Linux to make a decision and make everyone go along. (This can be good and bad.) It is good because you have more choices and customizability, KDE or Gnome, RPMs or .debs, and so on. It is also a disadvantage in that developers and users don't focus on just one thing so there is duplicated effort and incompatibility problems.
  • - The development cultures are very different and I'd argue that at this point Linux on the Desktop is less open to borrowing from other cultures or even technologies. I can think of a dozen features Apple has more or less copied from Linux, Solaris, *BSD, and even Windows. I can't really think of any of the new features Apple has introduced that have been successfully copied and made part of default Linux distros. There are plenty of projects designed to clone OS X features, but very few if any that are incorporated and turned on by default in desktop Linux distros.
  • - With the move of many developers to OS X desktops, there is less need for those developers to work on desktop Linux features and most concentrate their development on Linux server features and sometimes even advocate keeping features from OS X out of Linux, because they are not needed/useful for a server.
  • - Interoperability is also a concern, no only among Linux distros, but with Windows and OS X. A lot of the market for Linux on the desktop may be hindered by failing to interoperate with OS X and not capitalizing upon it's popularity. Dev tools that can target both OS X and Linux desktops exist, but most lack functionality of native application fro one or the other platform. Heck, if Linux just adopted OS X's application format they could probably gain a lot of ground among app developers since they could make a single application bundle that would run on both platforms. This sort of thing doesn't seem to happen though, and there is a strong resistance among Linux desktop developers I know to even looking at and considering OS X features. In many cases they don't know what features OS X has, have no experience with it, and in a few cases are willfully ignorant.
  • - The biggest Linux on the desktop developers are also companies that profit by support and services more even than hardware. These companies then, have a vested interest in not making Linux too easy to use, lest they lose some of the support nd services income.

All of those seem to me to be some of the causes of OS X's success as a desktop compared to Linux. Linux could do much better if they had some hardware OEMs for the desktop backing them, but as I mentioned, it is a poor investment and most of them are still afraid of retaliation from MS. A few projects have put Linux to very good use on the desktop. The OLPC project, for example, exceeds the functionality of the average Linux on the desktop distro in several ways, such as ubiquitous use of zeroconf (with is present on most Linux desktops, but largely ignored by everything but chat clients). The real opportunities for Linux is on the very low end and for large organization deployments.

I personally only had a minor interest in Linux and it went south for several reasons that I've ranted on about before. If I were forced to take up a new machine running either OSX or Linux today I would give Apple a try. Linux for me has turned into the "been there, done that" bad experience of computing for me. And even in the years that I've been following Linux both as an interested bystander and for a while as a user I still see the desktop Linux revolution as a bunch of vaporware.

Now I have to give Linux on the desktop credit. I do use a Linux desktop and it is a better desktop in a number of ways when compared to OS X. The thing is, it is still geared towards very expert users (who need a lot of power and flexibility) and very novice users (who probably just need the Web and e-mail). It is the category in between that tend to have problems. Anyone who uses their desktop for work may well need software that is unavailable, or difficult to install and use. When you start to try some of the more advanced uses, well I always end up using the CLI eventually. That's not a problem for me, since I use it on OS X too, but on OS X I don't have to, whereas on Linux I often get the feeling that no one ever tried to do some task without using the CLI. Apple has long been renowned for their UI design and extensive user testing. It probably costs them a lot of money to do it, and there is not a lot of interest on Linux in shelling out for the same.

Windows will not dominate forever, no. But I don't think it will be Linux that will take it's place on the desktop.

Given the sluggishness of the courts and reluctance of the US to enforce their laws in the face of big campaign donations from MS, I would not at all be surprised to see OS X and a number of tailored Linux on the desktop entrants slowly eating away at Windows install base until they make up a big enough segment that MS's monopoly influence starts to crumble. Once that happens, Windows will get a lot better in a hurry, or topple.

Re:No windows compition[sic] (1)

Weedlekin (836313) | about 6 years ago | (#23068506)

"Apple refuses to sell their OS into this market because it monopolized and there is no business case"

It's more likely a case of Jobs remembering what happened the last time Apple offered MacOS to OEMs, who ended up competing with them in the existing Mac market instead of expanding it as Apple had hoped.

Re:No windows compition[sic] (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 6 years ago | (#23068620)

It's more likely a case of Jobs remembering what happened the last time Apple offered MacOS to OEMs, who ended up competing with them in the existing Mac market instead of expanding it as Apple had hoped.

It is more or less the same thing. The market for Macs is limited by OEMs afraid of retaliation by MS and by users who are locked into Windows. Apple has great brand recognition for mid and high end systems. This leaves only bargain machines. Bargain machines are marketed mostly by touting the low price and trying to make it seem like you're getting the same product as a more expensive system. Just like last time their would be bullet points and number comparisons that tried to make a system look like what Apple offers, but using lower quality components. This means more failures, many of which are blamed on the OS, and tarnishes Apple's brand, while at the same time stealing some of their sales.

no surprise (2)

FireXtol (1262832) | about 6 years ago | (#23066756)

Linux has always been an oddity in the desktop market. And I, for one, think it will be this way for quite a while. Sure there's 'intelligent phone' replacements... browsing, email, a few other general purpose apps... but Linux is highly specialized. There's no standardization for interaction. You have different shells, different window managers, different distros. All with their own pros and cons. Now don't get me wrong.... I like Linux as much as I like surfing the web. Without it much of the web wouldn't exist as it now does, and I see Linux as having been crucial in making it better, as well as sadly making it worse. Given the powerfulness of the kernel to tackle complicated tasks, but usually is best fitted for single-mission services. Compared with a mature GUI model, with a tight integration with the kernel, a highly sophisticated, and highly extensible threading model, as well as other modular subsystems, would be Windows NT-based (2k & XP)... exclusively. Then again... I wouldn't even dare hosting a critical web service on Windows, regardless of version.

Re:no surprise (3, Insightful)

Shados (741919) | about 6 years ago | (#23067768)

but Linux is highly specialized. There's no standardization for interaction


Thats why I feel that the future of Linux in user's hands is in the form of "appliance" type machines. Things like the EeePC, cellphones, Tivos-type things... we already have, and it works quite well. Now push it a notch further... a desktop machine with everything a user need, but locked down. Can't install or remove anything, except for the SD card or USB stick to store your data. Different models with different software for different people (and maybe like the EeePC, let people hack it up, but not by default).

Linux is -really- good at that kindda stuff. Linux desktops work great when they're preconfigured and you don't change em too much (which is when, for a regular user, all hell breaks loose).

I remember at my fiancee's college, most of the computer clusters were like that. Locked down desktop linux installs. It worked amazingly well. Since you couldn't screw it up, everything just worked, Mac-style. Very clean, all your files were saved on a network drive (as opposed to USB as I said above, but still), and you could install a limited amount of non-disruptive things.. if you messed up, you could just re-init it like you would a router.

There's nothing special about that...nothing that can't be done with Ubuntu and a few minutes/hours of tweaking. But if you sell that directly to users, you'll have a winner.

That was why it was founded! (5, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 6 years ago | (#23066770)

The Open Source Development Labs was formed by "big iron" vendors to cooperate on the development Linux for of enterprise computing, so I don't find it surprising that is where their focus is. OSDL later merged with the Free Standards Group to form the the Linux Foundation, but OSDL was the larger part of the merge.

I don't find that more noteworthy, than freedesktop.org focusing on the desktop. Different organization have different focus.

Re:That was why it was founded! (1)

Yath (6378) | about 6 years ago | (#23067518)

Seriously, I don't see a problem with this. As long as they aren't inhibiting desktop development, what's there to complain about? We happen to have a bunch of self-interested parties doing things that are in their interest. Not much of a story.

Focus on strength! (3, Insightful)

quarrel (194077) | about 6 years ago | (#23066814)

I don't really see this as a major problem.

MSFT 'attacks' other pieces of the market because of its near monopoly on the desktop and in Office apps. Linux can do the same.

Why shouldn't the Linux Foundation focus on Linux's strengths and continue to shore up that area, particularly if the people with the money have those priorities? If Linux is the major player in several segments then it can leverage that strength to gain others.

Linux on the desktop isn't going to become a winner because a technical committee somewhere listed its strengths or weaknesses. It'll take a nimble, energetic core of developers to drive and make decisions that are innovative and exciting to users. Always playing catchup is probably not the way to go.

Meanwhile, if Linux dominates at the Big Iron/Appliance/Server areas, then it will become easier for the desktop driven folks to achieve their goals. This is particularly so in a world where the buzz words are virtualisation, "in-the-cloud" etc, that remove many applications from directly being on the desktop, as application adoption and readiness for the desktop is one of the high barriers to Linux becoming a force on the desktop.

--Q

Re:Focus on strength! (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 6 years ago | (#23068198)

MSFT 'attacks' other pieces of the market because of its near monopoly on the desktop and in Office apps. Linux can do the same.

MS has been gaining market share in the server space by intentionally making it as hard as possible for Linux servers to interoperate with Windows desktops. They can do this, because they control the desktop space. Linux does not monopolize any market and even if it did, there are numerous Linux distributions so breaking compatibility would have to somehow incorporate a change into all the distros is such a way that MS did not have access to the same information. Basically, because Linux is open source and different distros interoperate via open standards, Linux can never leverage their influence in one market to give it the same type of advantage in a new market (as MS has done repeatedly to take over new markets).

Linux is the major player in several segments then it can leverage that strength to gain others.

Linux cannot "leverage" their strength in the same way MS leverages their monopoly power. At best, Linux will always be fighting on a level playing field in some markets and in one skewed against them in others.

In a different way, however, Linux can leverage their main advantages into the desktop that have kept them alive on the server. Development costs are shared and overall costs are less. This means Linux can undercut the price of MS's other markets. In fact, if antitrust laws were enforced effectively Linux would probably slowly gain ground in most markets until it had significant share, then grow very rapidly. The main disadvantage from a business perspective is Linux will never allow any given company to extract as much money as MS does. Still, in a fair market, companies will settle for a share of a smaller pie, than no share at all.

It'll take a nimble, energetic core of developers to drive and make decisions that are innovative and exciting to users.
"Nimble" is not really Linux's strength. There is no one person to make decisions that will extend to all Linux desktops. Revolutionary changes are very hard because so many people have to get onboard and incompatibility with other distros is a huge negative. Really, it will probably take a serious investor willing to make such choices and break compatibility with other Linux distros to really bring it into the desktop space effectively.

Always playing catchup is probably not the way to go.

I think this mischaracterizes Linux. It is not always playing catchup, even in the desktop space. There are numerous areas where Linux is the best desktop offering. This is certainly not all of them, but the poster child OS X, which has been gaining install base, has certainly copied a lot from Linux.

Meanwhile, if Linux dominates at the Big Iron/Appliance/Server areas, then it will become easier for the desktop driven folks to achieve their goals.

This is very true, in that it gives MS one less near monopoly to leverage and it provides for more cross-pollination.

This is particularly so in a world where the buzz words are virtualisation, "in-the-cloud" etc, that remove many applications from directly being on the desktop, as application adoption and readiness for the desktop is one of the high barriers to Linux becoming a force on the desktop.

I don't have a lot of confidence in this... not because the benefits are not real, but because MS's intentional crippling of the Web via their control of IE keeps these solutions second class. Web developers have been excellent at hacking partially implemented 8 year old Web standards to do new and better things, but in the end they are still partially implemented 8 year old technologies and will always be crufty.

Lack of Desktop Focus?! (4, Informative)

BacOs (33082) | about 6 years ago | (#23066824)

I was at the Collaboration Summit and am surprised by the comment of "Lack of attention to desktop Linux." According to the agenda [linux-foundation.org], there was a Desktop Panel on day 1, and all day Desktop Workgroup meetings on days 2 and 3. That doesn't seem like a lack of attention to desktop Linux to me. I attended the Desktop Panel and part of the Desktop Workgroup meeting and they seemed like attention to desktop Linux rather than a lack thereof.

Re:Lack of Desktop Focus?! (3, Funny)

initdeep (1073290) | about 6 years ago | (#23067328)

Stop trying to make the writer look like an idiot.
That's his job to do to others.

Haven't you understood that "Journalism" isn't abou the facts.
It's about what the "Journalist" wants it to be instead.

Sheesh.

Re:Lack of Desktop Focus?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067924)

Stop trying to make the writer look like an idiot.

He can't make the writer look like an idiot. God beat him to it.

*Everyone* is ignoring the "desktop" market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23066888)

Actually, the whole computer industry (Microsoft, particularly) is ignoring the desktop market (i.e. individual users and developers).

The money and attention is on business-oriented software.

The only significant user-oriented market left is the gaming industry.

Still, niche markets abound and opportunities still lurk.

jkeelsnc (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23066936)

I love ubuntu and in fact I kicked Microsoft to the curb recently. However, it is attitudes like this that has kept Linux from being adopted en masse on the desktop. Someone needs to be put over someone's knee and have their behind spanked for acting like a child. I am technical and love digging into the internal aspects of Linux. However, being elitist and arrogant does nothing to help Linux gain traction in the desktop world. Maybe we SHOULD give that idea up if we are going to act like this.

Re:jkeelsnc (1)

PenGun (794213) | about 6 years ago | (#23067154)

Get a grip. I'm big and strong you will not be happy if you try your knee thing. We don't need no stinkin' masses and if you can't do your own thing go back to the sludge head world and get Steve and Bill to wipe your ass.

  Have a nice day ;).

Re:jkeelsnc (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | about 6 years ago | (#23067842)

Ohhh you're such an independent rebel..... .... just like all the other identical independent rebels!

only a matter of time (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 6 years ago | (#23066960)

With Vista out there and God only known what Microsoft has planned for windows 7 and their subscription bullshit, desktop linux is about to get really popular really fast. So I wouldn't worry too much about people forgetting about it and focusing on businesses. Plus if people use Linux at work, even if it's on a server, they're going to come home and want to use it too since it's free and they're familiar with it. Kinda like with Macs in schools except Linux doesn't freeze up and crash every 5 minutes like Mac OS 7 and 8 did when I was in school so people will actually come home and want to use it :P

Re:only a matter of time (1)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | about 6 years ago | (#23067072)

Not until someone actually makes it work for the mainstream. Grandma cannot go to the store and purchase her greeting card software, put in the CD and install it with one or two clicks on [OK]. Until someone makes it a whole lot closer to "plug and play" (like the windows), it isn't going to happen. It is still to complicated for the average non-programming user. Some will like it, yes. Most cannot use it. It is unfamiliar.

I can buy a toaster or a even a TV from different companies, hook it up and turn it on without even looking at a user's manual. Linux isn't even remotely close to easy enough yet. It has to come a long, long way.

Re:only a matter of time (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 6 years ago | (#23067176)

Ubuntu is easier to use than Windows, not less. It's also easier to install. You can install all that crapware that grandma likes through Synaptic without having to spend a dime.

Re:only a matter of time (1)

masdog (794316) | about 6 years ago | (#23067978)

Yeah...but can Grandma understand how to install all that crapware that Grandma likes when you try to explain Synaptic to her? Or will she understand that her old greeting card software and favorite card game will not work?

Re:only a matter of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067636)

Yeah, this seems to be a popular comment around here. Microsoft is digging their own grave, they suck so badly, people are going to start ditching microsoft for linux. Every year for the past like 5 years has been the year of the linux desktop. And yet...here we are, 2008 and microsoft is still dominant. Linux needs to do more than be just the OS to go to once you've had is with MS. There needs to be pull from linux, as well as this push away from Microsoft, if Linux is actually serious about desktop.

I mean, the fact is that most people think of linux as a server product still, if they have even hear of it at all. The perception still is that linux is hard to use, that there's a steep learning curve. It will likely take some time and some significant ease-of-use improvements before people will consider Linux as a main OS. It will probably also require a change in attitude too. Telling a potential user how much they suck because they chose MS and simultaneously telling them how leet you are because you use linux really does give the impression that perhaps linux is not a good choice since they obviously know so little about computers.

Re:only a matter of time (4, Insightful)

nicklott (533496) | about 6 years ago | (#23067722)

With Vista out there ... desktop linux is about to get really popular really fast

They said that a year ago and it didn't happen.

I'm no MS apologist, but I think you should actually try using Vista before making statements like that. Despite what you might read on slashdot, there is nothing fundamentally broken in it and most "average" users find it a step up from XP. Frankly I've had less trouble with Vista than I've had with Ubunutu on the same machine.

Plus if people use Linux at work, even if it's on a server, they're going to come home and want to use it too since it's free and they're familiar with it.

I don't really understand how using it on a server makes you familiar with an OS? To most people the "server" is that folder with funny icon on it, or, for the more technical, where their web pages come from.

I run CentOS or RHEL on all my public servers and would never dream of using anything else, but I ain't about to get all my staff to install ubuntu; for one they couldn't get the software to do their jobs. I still think that if linux wants to make headway on the desktop someone needs to come up with a distro to go after the gaming market. That's the only demograph that hardware manufacturers really pay attention to and what is cutting edge now will be standard in 12 months. Unfortunately you can't even get recent games that run on linux yet, so it's no wonder the hardware guys are a bit behind.

Re:only a matter of time (1)

IceDiver (321368) | about 6 years ago | (#23068690)

I'm no MS apologist, but I think you should actually try using Vista before making statements like that. Despite what you might read on slashdot, there is nothing fundamentally broken in it and most "average" users find it a step up from XP.

I don't know about the other guy, but I have used Vista, and have worked with other Vista users, who are generally unhappy with it. In my experience, it IS fundamentally broken: Driver problems (and not just one company's drivers, either), software compatibility problems, user confusion about interface changes, excessive hardware requirements, stability problems, networking problems, sound problems, and more.

Yes, some people have had no problems with Vista, but of those I have worked with, most have had several problems. About half of them went back to XP.

Fork, or perhaps not-fork? (2, Insightful)

Millennium (2451) | about 6 years ago | (#23067030)

Lots of projects exist that extend and/or fork the Linux kernel for specific needs. We have SELinux for heightened security, RTLinux for realtime processing, uCLinux for embedded machines, and so forth. These forks, if they can be properly called that, seem to get on more or less harmoniously with the core Linux kernel group.

Perhaps it is time for a "DeskLinux" project along similar lines, specifically to cater to the needs of desktop users. This would allow the core Linux kernel to keep its ostensible neutrality toward what systems it runs on, while still letting those who favor desktops to resolve what many people see as some very real issues. It even opens the way for a "BigLinux" later on, to bring enhancements specific to big iron that do not need to be in the core.

Re:Fork, or perhaps not-fork? (2, Insightful)

nawcom (941663) | about 6 years ago | (#23067350)

I sortof agree with you. One thing I don't like about the current stats of linux is what runs off of x.org. as you know, x.org is for all unix operating systems that it can be compiled for, so the same ubuntu themed desktop can run just fine on freebsd, by building from source.

These days people are arguing over what distro is better because it uses kde or gnome or uses an easy frontend for this or that. I think it's dumb.

maybe i'm just some old classic copylefter, but people seem to forget about the gnu part of linux distributions. these days it's "with distro is better". People assume I have linux on my laptop, but i have to take time and show them that i'm running fluxbox on openbsd, not linux.

well what does this have to do with the parent? i guess i'm saying that somehow directly linking the desktop to linux might help out and show people that even if they are using their special distribution for themselves, that no matter what it all comes down to the fact that they are running linux.

on a side note, i don't think linux will "make it" until hardware providers really start helping out with giving source code for driver development. also, no matter how easy of a distribution you have, some people have to pull up the terminal at one point to fix a problem. this scares people away. many many many windows users have never run cmd.exe and will call up some tech support guy if they do have to run some command line apps. when it comes to linux, i am a slackware user, so that sorta shows im a friend of building from source, and doing command line work. I just hope we can fix this link that seems to be breaking apart with linux users, and the state of mind of seeing linux as a desktop os.

Re:Fork, or perhaps not-fork? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 years ago | (#23068550)

Why fork? In fact, why does the kernel team itself need to care about the desktop at all? As far as I can tell, the kernel supports all the features needed to have a linux desktop. What's missing are the user level apps that make a desktop nice for users.

I dunno, maybe I'm wrong. What modifications to the kernel do you think are necessary to run a desktop on linux?

So What? (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 6 years ago | (#23067082)

So what? All that means is that a better name for the foundation would be the "Linux Server Foundation". It's not their obligation to care about Desktop Linux, if it's not in their business interest to do so.

By the same token, they don't "own Linux". When there are people who care enough to improve Desktop Linux, they'll do it (as many are). That's how Linux works: it's Open Source not just to read, but to write with your patches. When those people make money off Desktop Linux, and form a "foundation", maybe they'll have the sense of proportion to call it the "Linux Desktop Foundation". There's already plenty of orgs with those interests. So what if "the" Linux Foundation isn't one of them? And who's got the right to tell them they should be?

I figure it's because it's getting enough work.. (1)

NekoXP (67564) | about 6 years ago | (#23067144)

With Ubuntu and SuSE and KDE and GNOME releases going on at a pace, Intel dealing with desktop/laptop powermanagement, wireless and so on drivers being the hot topic in the kernel, why does the Linux Foundation need to bother with organising more development on the desktop?

On the other hand, servers are getting fancier every day. Infiniband, 10Gbit/100Gbit ethernet, clustering are all real important to get a hold on or Linux is going to be left behind in favour of something else. If you want to run a datacenter, are you going to wait 12 months to use the latest and best technology for your needs, while some hobbyist hacker reverse engineers the Windows implementation for OpenBSD and then someone slaps a GPL license on it and ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE?

This story is factually incorrect (5, Informative)

br1an.warner (1089965) | about 6 years ago | (#23067364)

While I respect Joe, he unfortunately missed the fact that on the other two days that he _wasn't_ at the conference, there were all-day desktop Linux meetings.


The focus was split pretty evenly between the desktop and the server - although journalists were only invited to the first day and that session was, admittedly, weighted towards the server. However, the two all-day desktop meetings and many of the other sessions (Printing in Linux, virtualization, energy efficiency) involved significant Desktop content. I'm not sure that his claim can be substantiated.


From the conference agenda [linux-foundation.org]:

Wednesday, 9-5: Desktop Linux Architects Meeting

  • State of the Linux Desktop - Linux Distros
  • OEM vendor round table: what they need to have a successful Linux desktop
  • Building a Desktop Environment Ecosystem - Gnome / KDE
  • Linux Desktop Implementation Case Studies
Thursday, 9-4:30: Desktop Linux Architects Meeting
  • Virtualization on the Desktop
  • State of X
  • OpenPrinting Joint Session
  • Creating Portable Linux Applications, Joint Session with the LSB Workgroup
  • Desktop kernel requirements
  • Desktop project Lightening Talks

Re:This story is factually incorrect (1)

fdisk3hs (513270) | about 6 years ago | (#23068204)

Hmm. "While I respect Joe, "...

Have you read Joe? I won't start a personal attack or anything, but I've long since stopped reading his articles. I can't decide if he has trouble verbalizing things he knows, or if he just doesn't know them.

Re:This story is factually incorrect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23068628)

The second. I can't read his articles either because they're always either insipid and useless, or he's whining (like now).

Re:This story is factually incorrect (1)

yuna49 (905461) | about 6 years ago | (#23068446)

So there were sessions about the desktop, but they were closed to the media? I fail to see what purpose that served. Looking at the titles of those sessions, it's hard to see what might make them so secret. Weren't they largely slide presentations and a lot of chatter? It's hard to imagine someone letting slip some trade secret in a room full of competitors.

People at the Linux Foundation should know that holding closed-door meetings won't be well received by a substantial fraction of the Linux userbase.

The little guys care about the desktop (1)

mathimus1863 (1120437) | about 6 years ago | (#23067370)

It's the little guys that care about the desktop, and they're the ones who improve it for free. Obviously it would be nice to see big names like IBM supporting linux desktop development, but their business is in "big iron," and there's plenty of nerds sitting in their basement saying "I wish this or that was better.... wait, I can do it myself!"

Netcraft confirms it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067378)

Linux on the desktop is dead before it was born.

Re:Netcraft confirms it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23068332)

I thought we agreed that life doesn't begin until you are born; thus, Linux on the Desktop never existed in the first place. Or maybe somebody just aborted it.

Flamebait is Missing The Point (3, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | about 6 years ago | (#23067530)

1. The computer desktop is not a major source of revenue for anyone. Don't whip out Microsoft on me here because their desktop business is through resellers like DELL and HP. Their retail product is costly as hell compared to a reseller like HP or Dell. Compare Vista sales through Dell versus how many retail licenses were purchased at Worst Buy.

2. Backend/Big Iron is where the most dollar opportunity are with Linux.

3. The desktop problems are much more difficult to solve and the payoff in dollars is worth maybe a nice dinner.

There are *still* new and interesting things happening on the server side in storage, virtual machines, memory, you name it. Desktops? Not so much. What's the last legitimately different desktop environment you, or anyone else has tried?

Re:Flamebait is Missing The Point (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 6 years ago | (#23067932)

The computer desktop is not a major source of revenue for anyone. Don't whip out Microsoft on me here because their desktop business is through resellers like DELL and HP. Their retail product is costly as hell compared to a reseller like HP or Dell. Compare Vista sales through Dell versus how many retail licenses were purchased at Worst Buy.

I'm not sure I follow your logic. What does it matter who MS sells their desktop OS to? They make a buttload selling it to OEMs for pre-install. While they don't make much selling it at boxed at Best Buy, they do brisk trade selling site licenses to enterprise business and government organizations. All of that is money spent that could be going to someone else or be saved by the OEMs and big site license customers.

2. Backend/Big Iron is where the most dollar opportunity are with Linux.

Currently Linux developers do make money selling servers and using Linux to facilitate the sale. That, however, is not the only way people are making money by a long shot. Linux for appliances is used to sell everything from cell phones to industrial robots. Support and services for Linux deployments, both on the server and desktop, also pull in some big bucks. It makes IBM more cash than their server hardware business.

3. The desktop problems are much more difficult to solve and the payoff in dollars is worth maybe a nice dinner.

There certainly are some hard tasks to making a good consumer desktop, but a lot of those have more to do with MS's monopoly influence on the market (and intentional breaking of compatibility) than making a good desktop being a lot harder than making a good server. There is momentum to overcome, since there is lot more experience using Linux as a server and there is the question of what happens when some fundamental change is really needed for Linux on the desktop, but is detrimental to Linux as a server. It may be that the userspace will have to fork eventually.

Desktops? Not so much. What's the last legitimately different desktop environment you, or anyone else has tried?

OS X.

I can't agree with your implication. There is a whole lot of room for improvement in the desktop space and someone may well make a whole lot of money doing it. Imagine getting a nice multi-year contract to supply all the new desktops to the government of Germany. That can be a lot of cash for long time and a high visibility reference customer that can really open up other big sales. Realistically OS X, Vista, and Ubuntu all have useful features and capabilities the others do not. Simply setting some developers to clone all of the missing features into a Linux desktop, do some extensive usability testing and supply some closed source end user software and hooks to your services and you could really be in a good place. It can happen and might start with low-end machines like the XO laptop or even lower down with cell phones that slowly gain more and more functionality of normal desktops. Or maybe Lenovo or HP or Dell will finally be confident the antitrust laws will be enforced against MS (at least in the EU) and will take the plunge and invest in an alternative Linux based desktop to undercut the competition. Heck, it might even be Walmart that does it. Eventually though, someone will probably do it.

Re:Flamebait is Missing The Point (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 years ago | (#23068598)

Compare Vista sales through Dell versus how many retail licenses were purchased at Worst Buy.

For thirty years, give or take, the PC has been marketed as a plug and play home appliance or office machine.

When you upgrade to a new PC you upgrade to the latest iteration of the Windows OS. Hardware and software at the OEM price. Installed and tested. Sales of the retail box are simply a bonus.

The desktop problems are much more difficult to solve and the payoff in dollars is worth maybe a nice dinner.

The client division has paid off handsomely for Microsoft in fiscal 2008. $4.34 billion in the second quarter. Up 68% from fiscal 2007. Microsoft Q2 2008 by the Numbers [microsoft-watch.com]

This is good. (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 6 years ago | (#23067536)

I cant think of any drawbacks in having much work in linux going into improving linux under heavy workloads. This benefits the desktop user just as much, especially with all the multicore cpus coming out.

Linux on dekstops is getting much attention in the kernel, its just not that visible to the user. The performance gain to be had from tailoring the kernel is very small compared to the gains to be had in userspace applications. Performance hogs like nautilus, openoffice, mono-apps and firefox will only improve some percent by work on the kernel while much greater performance gains can be had by targeting those applications directly in their own code.

Re:This is good. (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 6 years ago | (#23068058)

I think I agree; I'm not sure what the downside is to Linux on the "big iron" servers with the heavy workloads-- sounds like a good application to me.

No desktop mention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#23067644)

Who cares? It isn't as if the Linux community hasn't been able to take care of most of your desktop needs on its own.

For that matter why should I care what the Linux "Foundation" has to say at all? There may be a lot more corporate interest (and influence) upon Linux development now than in the past, but these people seem to be forgetting something rather important -- that we can do without them, and if they bite us in the ass, we -will- do without them. Remember XFree86? A lot of new folks to Linux distributions probably haven't even -heard- of it. Look it up sometime and then tell me that Linux can't survive without corporations.

Still to big a hassle (4, Insightful)

the_rev_matt (239420) | about 6 years ago | (#23068156)

I used linux as my full time desktop both at work and at home for 4 years. And I enjoyed it mostly. I was able to do most of what I wanted to. But multimedia production (video editing, multitrack music production) was a huge pain in the ass to do and from what I've seen hasn't improved much.

Thing is, back when I used linux full time (99-2003) I didn't own a house. I didn't have kids. I enjoyed building my own computers and futzing around with configuration and getting packages to build for hours or days at a time. Now I've got kids, a house to maintain, and little or no free time.

If I have to spend a half hour on administration a month on my computer then I simply won't even turn it on, it's not worth the hassle. There's way more important things I can be doing. I can either spend the next two hours trying to figure out why an upgrade to a kde or gnome core library broke Totem or I can play with my kids. Easy decision to make.

I switched to OS X for all my multimedia production needs in 2002, and shut down my linux box permanently in 2003 as the birth of my first child approached. It does everything I wanted linux to do and I don't have to *do* anything to keep it running. My priorities are obviously going to be different from that of a lot of linux fans, but those fans need to realize that most non-fans will have no interest in linux on the desktop until it becomes less of a pain to use than Windows is.

Linux needs to stop being elitest (1, Troll)

vallef (955213) | about 6 years ago | (#23068284)

Shame about the lack of Linux emphasis on the desktop. Linux has tried to catch up with AIX, Solaris etc. But still ZFS, Dtrace and many other innovations forge ahead and leap ahead of Linux, Linux still struggles to keep up. Linux being Unix should have been the desktop Unix, it warped into a market that already had good Unixes. After 9 years of Linux laptop useage I hate to say it I am using Windows more, XP that is. Expectations were high were are we with desktop Linux now, Linux power management is no so good. Why all this emphasis on the kernel.

Please, make Linux the Unix desktop environment, don't bother re-inventing what AIX and Solaris do better. It is such a pain going from the various Linux flavours, Mandrake, Red Hat, Suse. There seems to be no commonality between them. This is a Linux promise/hope that we have lost. Not the first time in the industry.

The challenge is make Linux the best platform for the desktop. Linux for the server is not adding anything we could not do before. Actually makes it more complicated, any large corporates done a Linux migration from Red Hat to Ubuntu, or Suse to Debian. The cost to migrate from one Linux to another is as big as Win to Mac. Actually, I would call all these distributions proprietary as the are so different, it is in the interests of the distributions that people to not migrate to another Linux. Once you are tied to one Linux, there is near lock-in. Not what I expected in the early days of Linux. Make me a desktop linux with good power management and driver support, drop this server development, help the world.

Top Ten List (1)

bigredradio (631970) | about 6 years ago | (#23068580)

Anyone have a link to the copy of the "Top Ten" list? I would like to know what issues they feel are important.
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