Linux

How Linux can finally rise above Microsoft

Jack Wallen is sure he knows the secret weapon to help Linux rise above Microsoft. Not only does Jack call out an Infoworld writer for not helping the cause, he calls out to you, the reader, to help the Linux community lift Linux above Windows.

Recently, I had a chat with another member of the Linux media about what Linux really needs to do in order to finally reach the masses. It was a long discussion that meandered in and out of various topics. But ultimately one topic won out over all others as being the be-all, end-all means for Linux to gain large-scale support in both the end user and enterprise crowds.

The conclusion? The desktop. Why the desktop? Linux has already conquered the server market. All it needs to do for that portion of its audience is to continue to scale upwards and keep creating incredible, usable servers. What Linux has failed to do yet is to show the world exactly what a desktop can do for the user.

You might have noticed lately that I have been preaching a lot about the desktop. In some circles I have made it my primary (and often only) focus. Recently I read an article on Infoworld where a writer was challened to take the age-old Linux challenge. Near the very beginning of the article, the writer spouts off saying, "Give me a break! Desktop Linux is nowhere." That same author informs the reader that it had been nearly a decade since he had fired up a Linux distro.

A decade.

This is a writer for a tech-based news source. Nearly. A. Decade. Yet before he took this test (and admitted how long it had been since he had seen Linux), he spouted off that "desktop Linux is nowhere." That, my friends, is a problem. Why? Because desktop Linux is far from nowhere.

I realize that a vast majority of my readers are IT pros who could care less about how cool the desktop is. That cross section of users wants their desktop to simply work. I get that. But the average user is not so concerned with how efficiently their desktop works or how much bloatware their operating system has (nudge nudge, wink wink Jaqui). The average user likes eye candy. And if the average user can be wooed by Microsoft Vista, imagine how Compiz (or Elive Compize) would affect that same user.

A 3D desktop? Wow!

It would be very difficult to argue the point that Linux has made leaps and bounds in the desktop area. Think about where it was 10 years ago (you know, the last time that Infoworld writer fired up Linux) to where it is now. Put FVWM up against KDE 4 or GNOME with Compiz and see how it fares. You can look at font rendering alone and see how far the Linux desktop has come.

And this is how Linux can finally rise above Microsoft. The desktop. But how can it be put into action? There was a slight window of opportunity missed when WalMart was selling the gOS-based desktop machines. The problem was the fact that they used gOS as the distribution/desktop. Don't get me wrong, I am fond of gOS, but that doesn't mean it was the right distribution for the task. Instead what should have been used was a desktop that, out of the box, looked and behaved similarly to whatever version of Windows was couture at the time. With a bonus. Now this bonus would have raised the price of the machine just a bit. But add to that desktop (either KDE or GNOME) Compiz and you give the user something familiar with an added twist and you'll have users oohing and ahing at what their new Windows-like desktop can do.

I've grown rather tired of hearing those self-same pundits who haven't touched a modern Linux desktop since, what, GNOME 1.x, say that Linux isn't ready for the mainstream. Linux is ready for the main stream and the main stream is ready for Linux - it's only a matter of getting the two of them together in the right way.

Now, how do we do it? I'm sure everyone here has a suggestion or two. So put fingers to keys and help the Linux community to figure out how to get the Linux desktop in front of the end users.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

189 comments
kubuntukonquerer
kubuntukonquerer

"It would be very difficult to argue the point that Linux has made leaps and bounds in the desktop area." Grammar error there; you just said it hasn't progressed. It wouldn't be difficult at all. The graphics on both Compiz and Ubuntu Jaunty are incredible... to hell with Vista. As one of the casual users you mentioned, I think Ubuntu and Kubuntu are making strong advances into the desktop market. Not sure how Compiz will fair, since I've heard people just call it a Vista clone. Windows users don't seem likely to convert to Compiz and risk not having support for certain programs, but I certainly would because of hardware requirements.

stbaudler
stbaudler

Plug & play, I'm a relative newb to Linux, & still have to dual boot because there are some games I haven't gotten to run through wine. I'm sure there is a way, but non-techies wont want to spend hours reading webposts trying 2 get every WinXP compatible program to run.

yokohama1970
yokohama1970

Encourage & assist friends & family who express disgust over Windows Vista issues with certain third-party external devices, to possibly consider a dual-boot scenario? I convinced my Father (73 y/o), my Father In Law (58) & Brother(s) In Law to try it. They were a little lost @ first. But during a Family get together, I showed them how to update & not worry about the terminal. I asked each of them how they would like to customise their desktops in Ubuntu Intrepid (32 Bit)& Feisty (64 Bit)? This is what sold them on continued use of Linux. They understand how to boot into either Windows XP, Vista SP1 or Ubuntu Intrepid/Feisty using GRUB. The older folks like the simplicity & familiar GUI interface & they use Firefox as their web browsers anyway, so there was little change. For my 2 Brother(s) in Laws, they are in their late 20's/early 30's. They are starting to understand that Linux is truly about infinite Customisation. Basically, the world needs more adventurous & curious OS folks. Personally, I am use Ubuntu Feisty or Intrepid 1st, Mac OS 10.5 Leopard 2nd & Windows XP SP3 only when I send or receive Word, Excel or Power Point files. I spend more time doing windows updates, virus scans, HD defrags & reg defrags with XP than anything else, thus why I was okay with walking away from the Windows family.

glennbabbitt
glennbabbitt

With school budgets constantly being voted down and cost cuts having to be employed every year, how about the school districts saving money-lots of money-by using a nice linux desktop? Not only would school districts see significant savings, but students would then see how well it works, and be willing to carry that knowledge with them into colleges and ultimately the workplace!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...but I think to get Linux to the mainstream, you're going to need a firm that user's equate with quality technology to push their own flavor. "Meet 'Cloud', the new Linux offering from Google. From your hand held to your data center, 'Cloud' has you covered." In the vein of fluffy white clouds, and the fluffy advertising they'd no doubt employ, you could call users of this OS 'fluffers'. Hmmmmmm...or maybe not. ]:)

jck
jck

Basically to win marketshare, Linux has to do the following: 1) Get face time: They have already started this by getting manufacturers, such as Dell to offer them on PCs. However, they need to go further. Advertising is crucual as well. Mac's add campaign is a good example of what good ad time will do for you. Linux(es) should, in fact, take advantage of Mac's marketing and say "Hi. I'm Mac OS's daddy. Linux." 2) Get software makers to develop for Linux: this is the biggest one. All I hear (and myself say) is that "there's not enough software out there for Linux". I am one of those. I am as good with OpenOffice as Office, and I find it in ways better than Office. But unless I can put my Shadowbane CD in and run it under Linux, I can't be 100% Linux dedicated. 3) Get people familiar with it: This would be a great time for Kubuntu or someone to do what AT&T did with Unix, and what Gates has done with Microsoft OSes and applications: give it away to schools and libraries. Configuring the Linux interface to look just like Windows (save the Windows trademarked items) would be easy. As long as the interface worked the same on the surface, then the end user gets used to it real quick and there are no issues. I really do hope that Linux takes over the desktop. It will be proof that the freedom to innovate is truly greater than the drive to maximize marketshare and profits.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Ignoring the unprofessional :( face in all error messages. The simple mundane task of installing the OS seems to fail. I can say I have never seen a Windows install fail for "normal" reasons anyways. By normal I mean excluding failed hardware and bad BIOS settings. (I say never seen because while I have installed Diff version of Windows many many times, they were often on the same hardware, or in virtual environments, others may have seen more). My final point being is that Windows "usually" comes pre installed, while Nix has to be installed by the idiot user. I cannot imagine a bigger turnoff to a new user than this. http://www.trevorsarchives.selfip.net/temp/MandrivaFailing.JPG Mandriva 2008.1 Spring I have a question posted here at TR, but I somehow doubt there is a GUI solution to this. If any solution at all, though I am hopeful because I want to try this distro. Please go answer it if you have a solution http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-7343-0.html?forumID=101&threadID=304128 And lets face it, anyone sitting at this point, has no computer to go surf the web and try and get help.

tiggsy
tiggsy

1. Reliably run games like Wow and other popular mainstream games. 2. Market on its main strength - virtually malware free

amirazizaaa
amirazizaaa

Thanks for the article. I couldnt agree more with what the writer has stated. I have been fondling with linux for almost 3 to 4 yrs now and I finally installed linux (Linux Mint - Elyssa) on my laptop. All seems perfect and good but there are lots of unforeseen problems that gets linux into trouble with the common user. My laptop unknowingly hangs up (with a blank screen) when I play a movie or shutdown the workstation and so on. To be honest, its a hassle to see that these simple things dont work effectively but the more advanced features do. I even used gOS and I really liked the concept. But I faced the same bunch of problems. Then comes the issue of installing software....good gosh!! u have no idea where to begin. Each distro has its own tool for installing software. Then how do u manage the software installed from source code and how would u uninstall it without being concerned of a potential system crash? I think, to make linux a revolutionary desktop OS for the masses, the following needs to be accomplished: 1) Standardization between all distributions - Sure each distribution has its own flavor and purpose but it should also behave as a transparent/native OS to any linux user that uses the distro. There should be simple install/uninstall features that are consistent across all distributions. This issue should be incorporated into the GPL so as to give linux a direction. Linux is behaving more like bacteria that is growing haphazardly all over the place. 2) Need to lobby in the Silicon Valley with top notch IT companies. This will allow each IT company to create software, hardware, and supporting drivers/utilities for linux. Once you have these 2 points resolved, you will see the pieces comming together and a revolutionary linux for the masses.

chadley
chadley

I think that there are far too many linux distro's, Application support for simple tasks that we can perform in a click click basis in our Microsoft OS. takes months of reading struggling and being treated like an idiot by a bunch over rated "experts" on the so called support forums. Hardly any usefull apps are free, and the usefull ones have to be compiled for your disto. Each community only supports it own flavor, to get a good system you need to run several distros to get the benefit of all. Not mention hardware support, where you need to install all sorts of "dependancies" and occasionally recompile your kernel, a task that is nearly impossible for end user. The online repositiories take up so much bandwidth and half the packages fail because of the one dependancy which is corrupt or not available. Usefull programs like kaffien don't meet the basic requirements of a desktop user. Play DVD's, MP3s! No instead we have slogg it out for 3 days on the net looking for RPMs that work. And then once you have it all working some one sends you a Microsoft Word document. When you try read this document Open Office messes the layout up. Then you install wine and load MS Office on Linux and your PC becomes so slow you could take a trip to mars before the application is actually open. NO sir, Linux will never take the desktop market my friend. I am one to know, 3 years ago we shipped over 10000 units with linux, I worked on the OS Fedora core for 6 months t get it stable and ensure it worked as a desktop. Every single customer who kept the Linux had issues with documents, games, printers, web cams, certain memory sticks, internet connectivity, 3rd party modems and I can go on. Linux will never take the desktop because the hot tempered community can't get it together. PS I work in IT research and devlopment for a major company, we shipped over 100 000 computers last year, only about 5000 had linux. Currently use Opensuse 10.2 & 11 as my desktop becuase it is the only distro where you can reload within a reasonable time frame (Like and hour), and have all your gadgets running. I run Sles 9, Clark Connect, and Centos on my servers. I use the desktop only for working with my servers. I run Windows Vista, and Windows 7 on my actual work PC's. I play regularly with new distro's in hope that we can try rolling out machines from our factory successfully. I seriously doubt after 10 years experience in linux that it will ever have a real desktop.

cofoley
cofoley

you actually just need to get the OS's UI out of the way of the web. You could easily beat Microsoft and Apple at that. gOS's newest OS (Cloud) boots right into a browser so the user never even knows they're in linux. they don't even have to think about what OS they're in, and they shouldn't have to.

paztame
paztame

Dear Sir (Jack), From 1961 Iwas involved with electronics in many flavours, 1975 I switched to Computing which was done in the most primitive way, I had a break from 1988 to 2004, and this was a total change to what I knew, of course I supported Bill Gates while in the industry (up to 1988) because there was what Icalled the model "T" in computing and that was the "PC" and finally available to every body, I could see the potential then, NOW we have got LINUX, which I love because of the goodies produced by people without having to give them Money, and what I call the only working democracy in the planet, as you can see there is no mention of any code writting, I just love what people do out of there own will and this is the "capital$" that LINUX has, NOW of course one needs to organize this great effort, So Far So Good, But if you want to have Linux standing next to MicroSoft, a lot of new users need to be recruited into using LINUX, and this means only one Thing, Standards,Standards, Standards, We must speak only one language, like in medicine, I know, I know, there are Legal consequences to that, But a Standard must be achieved for the common good. You must realize by now that a computer has became a "TOOL" for many uses, like a hammer you don't have to ask it what language do you speak?? and the hammer has been a "TOOL" for a very long time now!! Of course there is more I want to say but space is limited here, but if you have interest let me now. Bill Sydney Australia

Solifugus
Solifugus

Destroy the whole idea of every software package you get requiring a certain version of a certain distribution of GNU/Linux and this ugly dependency hell issue you have to deal with, unless you want the version that comes with the specific release of the specific distribution you have. Build a mechanism into libs that lets us know the make-options of each. Then use autopackage as the package manager (it is distribution neutral) modified to detect libs by make options.. so there problems don't exist for most applications. Build a Generic GNU/Linux distribution builder that builds from sources and easily enables anyone to make their own distribution--be it on CD, installable, other CPU architectures, lightweight or heavy weight. A single GNU/Linux platform would mean you're more concerned about distributions of each software application than the distribution of GNU/Linux. And, more emphasis will go into making a good application package.. You know--not just, oh--sure that apps in our repo.

Betelgeuse58
Betelgeuse58

Somewhere in the threads someone mentioned marketing when referring to Ubuntu as compared to PCLinuxOS and Mandriva. I believe that this is indeed the case. The squeaky wheel gets the grease! ;)

arofanatic
arofanatic

leapfrog MS in surface computing. apple did it w/ the iphone and now owns the touchscreen phone market. If Linux jumped the gun on multitouch surface computing with a product that hit the market first, who knows. Ms is still stalling surface. Apple is questionable on a surface style pc. Then again, theres a lot of negative feedback on hand manipulation vs mouse/keyboard...

arfasmif
arfasmif

I know. Put Linux on every new PC and force everyone to buy it regardless of whether they want it or not. :-)

jqueen
jqueen

I think a big for driving the system would be gaming. I know linux can play most games that windows can with wine. But there is still a performance difference. Gaming seems to be a big driving force in the desktop market.

JimInPA
JimInPA

It's never gonna happen. You can show an end user all the nifty bells and whistles you want, you can make it as user friendly as you want, as long as the applications are not there for what you need to do, it will never fly. I have a laptop that I use 80% of the time running Ubuntu. I have it dual booting because I still use and need to use MS Visual Studio. There are unfortunately many other examples of programs end users will want to use that can't be used under Linux. All the cute little games and such that are downloaded all seem to want Windoze. I have been told in this forum before that any app there is that is Windoze only there is some equivalent app for Linux. I am not in the position to dispute that but the bottom line is most end users aren't going to want to use the equivalent app they are going to want the one that their friend or neighbor is using. I would love to be able to wipe the Windows partition off my laptop and reclaim that space but as long as I am unable to write and test ASP pages and app within a Linux environment I really have no choice. I post this for two reasons. One, because it is my opinion and I believe it to be true. Two, I hope for some reason I have been walking around with my head up my a$$ and there is a way to do the things I think I can't do in Linux and one of the educated masses will show me the err of my ways. :ar!

onephatcat
onephatcat

1. Stop being unfriendly to new linux adopters asking questions. Typical responses are "RTFM" "Read the FAQ" "Stop Top Posting" etc, plus arrogant criticism of how the question was asked instead of the content of the question. 2. Consolidate on one Consumer Desktop using the best features of all the current desktops. All Linux desktop developers need to focus on this for a while. 3. A solid suite of Desktop apps that is 100% compatible BY DEFAULT with Microsoft Office 4. Clarify the GPL so that corporations can easily know how to Develop for linux while protecting their IP. If you put a bunch of experience Linux guys in a room and ask them to explain any part of the GPL you will get a huge argument as to what it does and does not allow. Therefore, the wording of the GPL must be overcomplex. Fix it.

apotheon
apotheon

Compiz does a lot of stuff that Vista/Aero doesn't. It's definitely a flashier, more impressive example of what one can do with the desktop metaphor. I don't like either one, personally, but I tend to prefer minimal, efficient interfaces rather than flashy, "impressive" interfaces, so I'm not really the target audience.

apotheon
apotheon

Yeah, that pretty well points out what's wrong with developers who think: 1. the only way to make money on something is to sell it in shrink-wrapped menu items 2. Linux is an operating system, rather than a kernel, and thus completely miss opportunities for portable development

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

If the hardware is known by the kernel and/or Xorg then you just boot the system, hardware is recongized and your all set. Plug and Play. As for Windows games. It's really an amazing thing that software for a completely different platform can be run on this one at all. Though, if gaming is the dealbreaker, you could consider Cedega rather than Wine. They specialize in running Windows games on Linux distributions through the Cedega compatability layer. In the end, I'd actually recommend keeping a dualboot system anyway. If games are that important, you can have Windows dedicated to gaming and finely tuned to the latest title your playing through. This leaves your Linux distro boot for everything outside of gaming. For me, it means the best of both worlds by having the platform best suited to the needed task.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Schools have trouble getting money for new hardware, not operating systems. When they buy the hardware, they can usually get it with the OS for almost the same price as a 'bare metal' system. Microsoft recognizes the same value of being in schools that you highlighted, so they make it -very- affordable to education consumers. Your idea works well in those schools that are so poor they can't afford any computers at all, and must rely on non-governmental organizations to supply used systems.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Advertising is crucual as well. ... Linux(es) should, in fact, take advantage of Mac's marketing ..." I agree that marketing is key, but exactly who is paying for it? 'Linux' is an operating system; it has no marketing department. All but a handful of distros are maintained and updated by free labor and managed by non-profit organizations with no mass market capability (no, a web site and fanboy buzz doesn't count). The few orgs that distribute it for profit are already advertising to their target markets - business and apparently have no desire to appeal to consumers. Who's footing the bill? More to the point, who stands to gain by footing the bill? "Get software makers to develop for Linux..." Catch-22. There's no software; why should we use Linux? There's no users; why should we develop for Linux? "This would be a great time for Kubuntu or someone to ... give it away to schools and libraries." It's already free; what more of a giveaway can there be? Some schools are doing this, but most don't have any Linux experts on staff. If you're talking about having someone come in a do installation, who exactly is 'Kubuntu'? (See my point about advertising.) Maybe local user groups would, but how many schools could they support? How many hours of the school day would they be available? I agree with your ideas, but until someone volunteers to pay for the marketing, support the installs, etc, they'll remain philosophically sound and financially impractical.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I have been fondling with linux ..." We understand what you mean, but you may want to check your English dictionary. 'Fondling' usually describes a way of romantically touching someone of the opposite sex.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Can we assume you're the Jason who authored the linked posts?

j-mart
j-mart

The Open Source GNU/Linux world is probable the sector of the computing industry that seems interested or committed to the concept of having standards. Microsoft's idea of a standard is whatever the feel like at the time, changed whenever it suits them. In the world I work in, engineering - manufacturing, standards are, well documented, readily available by all, and when applied correctly, will enable our products to be easily interfaced with other companies products, be up to the required specs to perform the task they were designed for safely and efficiently, we can only dream of how much simpler things could be if this was the "standards" that the computing industry encouraged and adhered to.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"...there is more I want to say but space is limited here,..." paztame, there's plenty of space here. We've seen posts ten times longer than yours (no exaggeration). However, the longer the post, the more likely people are to decide they don't want to wade through it. Generally one about 2 to 2.5 times the length of your last one is about all that's practical.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

And if KDE+Compiz is not enough eyecandy then a text only DeskView like windows interface isn't going to be fetching any average users. it also brings in the issue third party software which remains the crippling blow for anything but Windows; the "Doesn't Run AutoCAD" issue. It does remind me that I had this on my list to check out against a VM though.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

From the very first time someone hacked Pong into a homebuilt.. sound had to improve.. graphics had to improve.. the game had to be updated.. hardware had to improve again.. if not for games and the 3DFX and following Voodoo2 boards.. we'd not likely have the monster video cards we now have. A machine that draws low enough power to leave on all the time is now a specialty item but bless the highpower monsters that gaming has braught us. The irony is that games tend to run faster on *nix platforms; the *nix native Neverwinter was faster. WOW even run through WINE is faster (I'm told as I'm now a Warcraft player). But, we have game developers that cater to DirectX which is bound to a single vendor platform which thus, makes the decision for the consumer who wants to buy and play the game but has no interest in asking the developer why they only provide it for one platform. And around.. and around..

Matthew S
Matthew S

Your are spot on with your observation "the bottom line is most end users aren't going to want to use the equivalent app they are going to want the one that their friend or neighbor is using." Go to any website offering software, by default you are assumed to be running Windows, offered Windows versions of products etc - it's a chicken & egg situation. I remember back when Atari was doing a hand-held console - the marketing guys thought the way to dominate the market was to get the 'geeks' onboard who, seen as people in the know, would cause the non-geek masses to pick the same product - in theory, I agree - in practice, it is a lot more complicated than that - ask any economics professor. If this was true, Amiga, Apple, OS/2 or Linux should dominate today. I would never recommend a Linux Distro to a computer novice who I am not going to be there to support. And as my girlfriends says : "I do not care what you do to my computer, I just want to know I can turn it on, and do what I want without mucking around with stuff." The key is "..what I want to do.." - if that involves installing software for work, using a security device, or downloading some gizmo of interest on the internet, I can guarantee that process will go smoother if she is running Windows (I would never assume 'smooth' - Windows has its flaws :-) ).

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Some places are downright hostile to new user (or old user) questions. It's not unique to any one platform either. Now, the reason people focus on how a question was asked rather than the content is due to the over-abundance of questions stated with an assumed entitlement to an answer; "XYZ doesn't work. It's crap. Can someone fix it for me?" Think of an area where you are an expert and consider someone new to that area walking in assuming that if it doesn't work for them in under five minutes then it's broken for everyone. To stick with computers and assuming your a Windows poweruser; are you going to feel warm and fuzzy about answering my questions if I state that something which works perfectly for you is broken because it didn't work for me the first try? Is my demand for information going to inspire you to rush to my aid? Granted, the FOSS folks also tend to be open about information right down to recommendations on how to ask a question for best helpful responses: http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html Point 2 comes up a lot it's really not needed. Few things only work in one desktop unless they are specifically bound to it. Even then, many programs will run just fine regardless of the desktop. GIMP is a graphic editor closely related to GNOME desktop but runs fine on KDE or any of the other graphic ones. "Linux" is not one single distribution but many different ones made from the same parts. That choice does not need to be overwelming either. It just means that different assemblies have different advantages. No one desktop is right for everyone and no one desktop is ever going to be the only desktop layered over a Linux or BSD kernel. Point 3.. that one's a dream. Even if it is technically possible, Microsoft will insure that it remains legally impossible. The shareholders are not going to back anything that benefits Microsoft's competition unless the alternative negatively effect dividends. Microsoft is in the business of generating profits for it's owners; software is just the tool it uses towards that end. Point 4, the GPL is pretty clear or as clear as any other legal document. Corporations have large legal departments that can clarify it though there is also a wealth of discussion on line about the subject. I can see a middle-management type who's area of expertise is not computers finding it confusing but them not conferring with the tech staff and legal team is the real problem in an organization that large. "IP" on it's own is also not a great term to use. Do you mean patent or copywrite material? Intalletual Property is a buzzword made up to confuse the two very clear branches of law. With that, copywrite is perfectly valid and enforced. If I copy a closed source product; I breach copywrite and can find myself in court. If I breach the license on a copyleft item then, again, I can find myself in court. In the end, both are protected works under GPL, BSD, MIT or any other copy license. This is not meant to jump all over you. It's just that the points you bring up have come up over and over. Also, if all your questions are answered with "RTFM" then you may want to find different forums for asking. The TR forums tend to be very friendly provided the question is not stated as universal fact; other forums can be downright hostile though.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The most unfriendly thing in the computer world is abreviations. Abreviations serve only to cause confusion. If Nix wants to achieve higher acceptance among first timers, they need to name things in plain english, they need to speak in plain english, and never ever use an abreviation in any area that could be viewed by an average user.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

dual booting defeats the purpose of having a free OS in the first place. That's what the debate is all about. Have fun beating your head against the wall.

jck
jck

Who pays? Whomever is putting out the big versions to be sold with their own proprietary add-ons...Novell, Canonical, Redhat, etc. What aren't they paying for? The customized interface. The big linux makers could put out simple to use and simple to administrate interfaces for schools and libraries that are sort of kiosk-ish. They could even package it to be added onto any other distro. The catch-22: Big Linux makers need to step up to the software companies (especially gaming) and talk them into cross-compiling into the Linux side. Shadowbane, for instance, already has OpenGL preference settings built-in. All it needs is a development for compilation on the Linux side. If game makers are using development environments with cross-OS compilation capability, it would not be difficult. The biggest thing is, Linux needs to be somewhere. AT&T gave unix to colleges and universities all throughout the 70s. Flooded the market. Then when companies couldn't find IBM mainframe trained computer people, they were practically forced to start adopting Unix to accomodate the availability of talent. Microsoft has been giving their software to libraries, schools, etc., for years. Why? Because if people learn to use MS all their lives in schools, then what will they want to use when they get a job or buy a home PC? That's right...MS products. I just see now to be a good time for the big Linux distros to do this (even band together and do it) and try and get into the home PC market now that Dell and others are selling PCs and laptops with Linux. If Dell was selling 5M units with Linux on them per year to home buyers, I guarantee there would be software developers who would see a financial practicality to writing software for that platform. Hell, Intuit and others might even start cross-compiling their software. Who knows tho. I guess if the profit isn't high enough, big business doesn't care. Only the most money gets their attention anymore...not starting up in true niche markets with a future.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

There in lies the issue. Standards don't reinforce barriers to entry or customer lock-in. You have the lucky misfortune to work in an industry that does not tolerate intentionally broken standards. If only the software industry could evolve to that point.

onephatcat
onephatcat

Hi Samurai, Thanks for the well thought out response. On point #1 - First, just so you know I'm not griping about being told to RTFM, I wasn't complaining about my personal experience, I was reporting my observations of how other people are treated when they first ask questions. I believe the way to encourage adoption of Linux is for those who believe in it to actually help solve all those annoying newbie problems for free, kind of like a first level tech support for a commercial product. Maybe there should be a tiered structure for Linux support mailing lists - the newb-support list and an advanced user support list, and some protocol agreed on whereby at some point a new user is allowed into the higher level support list. Having a solid, "customer" friendly approach will ease adoption by less technical users and create positive feelings about "Brand Linux" among users. On point #2 what I'm saying is: simplify it for the general desktop user - like FireFox - you can customize it any way you want, but the default install has a default UI. On point #3, Open Office *can* save Microsoft compatible files, but by default it seems to save files nobody with Office can read. Change the default, create a happier "out of the box" experience. Point #4 - GPL. Maybe what is needed here is some good evangelistic PR. What I was thinking about was the time last year when I proposed to my boss and to our head marketing genius that we should port our extremely popular closed source software/hardware product to Linux. This was before we had an on-site corporate lawyer to explain things. There were all kinds of questions about how to create proprietary software that runs on closed source hardware, especially when it comes to hardware drivers, and I couldn't get solid answers from the various groups I asked about this - just a bunch of uber-geeks with years of experience arguing over what the GPL does and does not allow. The other question from my boss: "if they get the OS for free, will they really want to pay for our product?" I don't have the answer for that one, but I really believe that companies with extremely popular pc and mac products will catalyze the Linux desktop market when they start releasing those products on Linux. - J

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

Every time somebody comes here with a criticism of the Linux world you defend it like some kind of socialist syncophant defending Stalin. Get a grip on reality. There are good valid reasons that people don't use Linux. YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!

Betelgeuse58
Betelgeuse58

Thank heavens TR isn't that way! :D I was taught as a child that there is plainly [b]no[/b] excuse for rudeness, no matter what! You state: "To stick with computers and assuming your a Windows poweruser; are you going to feel warm and fuzzy about answering my questions if I state that something which works perfectly for you is broken because it didn't work for me the first try?" Answer: I realize that a 'question' stated that way is from someone who does have absolutely [b]no[/b] idea as to what is going on and is rather frustrated over it. I can recall a time when I had similar experiences and got no answers from anyone but my own research. Therefore, I can appreciate and understand the position that a person asking the question is coming from. I try to [i]do unto others[/i]. "Is my demand for information going to inspire you to rush to my aid?" Answer: I do it all the time in Yahoo Answers [when I'm taking a break from my Linux studies or am just plain stuck with it and need to leave it alone for awhile to regroup]. I have even had to decipher what a teeny-bopper means in broken, horribly spelled "English" with terrible grammar, if any. I normally deal with Windows XP related stuff, but sometimes lead people to information about Linux who have heard about it but want to know more. I have some .docs made up with pat answers to the questions that get asked all the time, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. I.E.: "My computer is infected with _______!!!!! What is a good FREE anti-virus?" or "I installed _______ program but it stops and gives me _____ error." I copy and paste from the appropriate .doc the answer I wish to give and then edit it to tailor the info more tightly to the details (deciphered by me) needed by the asker. That said, I have also been known to simply post links to answer the most inanely written questions. To a technical question that gives no details I blandly ask something like, "What OS (OS = Operating System)? Windows?(XP? Vista?) Mac? (WHAT VERSION?), Linux (which Distro?)" In the 'right' mood I have been known to punctuate or substitute that with, "NEED _*DETAILS*_." or "What specific hardware/software are we talking about?" Sometimes I get useful feedback that I can use to be of true help to the person while also explaining in proper terms that they can understand what I'm talking about step by step. Sometimes I get a hateful reply back from the asker that I just simply ignore from that point on. Ninety-nine percent of the time, though, I can get what I know to be the proper info to the person whether they actually use it or not. Those that use it are always happy and grateful.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

We can't have filenames in our operating systems that aren't clear. Let's get rid of filenames like: wupdmgr.exe autolfn.exe autoprnt.exe rcimlby.exe BCMWLTRY.EXE rcp.exe bcmwlu00.exe perfmon.exe rdpclip.exe wuauclt1.exe wuauclt.exe blastcln.exe rdsaddin.exe rdshost.exe After all, they aren't in plain English, they are abbreviated, and they most certainly aren't clear. Get all that crap out of your Windows/system32 directory!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Being oblivious to the world around you is what got us adjustable rate mortgages.[/i] Why, were you so stupid as to sign one? Just taking a wild-@$$ guess...

apotheon
apotheon

Why would anybody want to be "gently" or otherwise moved to another OS if they ALREADY HAVE ONE! Oh, that's an easy one to answer: because they want to escape all the problems of the current OS. If you'd stop to try to think of why someone might want to do something, rather than just assuming nobody would ever want to do it because you yourself have some personal beef with the idea, you might be able to come up with such simple answers yourself.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

The fact that they already own an OS doesn't seem to register on your perception. Why would anybody want to be "gently" or otherwise moved to another OS if they ALREADY HAVE ONE! It's the same thing you didn't recognize with the idea of using the default compatibility with Microsofe Office. Reality is that MS office DOES dominate. If you can't use established familiarity you are just spitting into the wind. Being oblivious to the world around you is what got us adjustable rate mortgages.

apotheon
apotheon

"Whoosh" is the sound of the point going over your head. The point of setting up a dual-boot machine (with something that already has MS Windows on it, so you aren't paying extra to have a dual-boot machine) is to get familiar with the non-Microsoft OS "gently".

btljooz
btljooz

>>>"INSTALLING A HUSBAND" Dear Tech Support, Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed a distinct slow down in overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as - Romance 9.5 - Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as - NBA 5.0, - NFL 3.0 - Golf Clubs 4.1. Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system. - Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do? Signed, Desperate DEAR DESPERATE, First, keep in mind, - Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while - Husband 1.0 is an operating system. 0A Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update. - If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5. However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default toGrumpy Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7.0 or Beer 6.1. - Please note that Beer 6. 1< /U> is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta. Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.) In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0. In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend - Cooking 3.0 and - Hot Lingerie 7.7. Good Luck Babe! Tech Support

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Hey, baby, wanna fondle my penguin? I'm giving it away under the GPL! How 'bout opening up your source, if you know what I mean? C'mon, don't go all proprietary on me, honey! Hey, where ya going?"

apotheon
apotheon

You choose to engage in argument by ridicule fallacies rather than actually engaging in reasoned discussion. That explains it.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

You choose to not recognize reality. That explains it. Quite nicely too.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"if they get the OS for free, will they really want to pay for our product?" I can get water free from a stream or by digging a well. I'm more than happy to pay for the pipes and pumps to get it to me. "Open Office *can* save Microsoft compatible files, but by default it seems to save files nobody with Office can read. Change the default, ..." The 'problem' with OpenOffice.org defaulting to MS Office formats at installation would be the implied acknowledgment by the developers, and by extension the open source movement, that the MS proprietary formats really are the defacto standards that everyone else in the 'real world' has already recognized and accepted.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

This hogwash being spouted on this board about whether "if only you'd try it you might like it" is bull. I try a new distro every six months. When it doesn't install without me having to jump through hoops I say to myself "they still don't get it". These distros MUST install pain free with drivers for all of the equipment in my immediate box. That means network drivers and modems and sound drivers etc. I have yet to find one that will do it on three different NAME brand boxes in a row. The first time it humps up and won't install drivers for something I throw the newest greatest distro in the trash. The reason I only come back here once a year is because it never changes. I can come back here in FIVE years and you will still be debating what went wrong. And you will still be here trying to blame me. Not the OS.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'll let you have the last word too. Make it a good one; it'll be a year before you take another shot.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

but you've had your three chances to add any value to the conversation so don't mind us adults if we leave you hear at the kids table. Go ahead, have your last word.. I'm sure it will be inspiring and deeply thought provoking.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

It's making my point for me. Most people these days couldn't be bothered with a straight shift. It's an automatic or they won't buy it. If they need a truck they hire somebody. Your arguments are made from a techie geeks perspective. You will never get it.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

After all, this choice between cars is unacceptable. One car should do everything. Screw getting a pickup truck to haul lumber; I'm going to use my Smart Car because that's far more applicable to the task and my personal preferences.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"I shouldn't have to "try different distros" Agreed. While I recognize the value of a selection of distribution options, I personally find the selection process overwhelming and have said so here on many occasions. For the benefit of those who have the same problem, here's a handy site that uses a Q&A format to recommend a distro. http://www.zegeniestudios.net/ldc/index.php "It's what you do." 'You' who? Dude, I don't use Linux. I don't know how you can develop expectations when you obviously haven't looked at my history and read my posts on the subject. I run Windows-only shop, desktop and server alike. That hasn't kept me from trying Linux to see if it does what I want. (Right now, it doesn't.) No one is forcing you to use it. The jack-booted Penguinistas aren't coming tonight in their black steathcopters to make you run Fedora from the command line at gunpoint. If you don't like Linux, stick with Windows; I do. But it's hard to value your opinion on something you admit you haven't tried for yourself. We're not discussing playing Russian Roulette, dropping acid, licking a frozen flag pole, or listening to Rush Limbaugh. It's free software you can boot from a CD without touching your existing Windows setup. Under those harmless circumstances, the expectation is you have tried it before you shoot your mouth off.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

I shouldn't have to "try different distros" It should be out of the box compatible with everything I have. Until you people realize that, you will just be a bunch of whining geeks. I expected this kind of reply. It's what you do.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Wake up on the wrong side of the bridge this morning? Maybe you'd like to catch a few more hours of sleep and then come back when you're ready to present some reasoned opinions backed by logic and examples instead of just calling people names. What distros have you tried? How far did you get? What problems did you had? What did you like or dislike? Were you able to try any applications? Your history shows you pop up about this time every year for a couple of days, so you may have already gone back to ground again. If you see this, posting your Linux experiences will do a better job of making your point than ranting.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

"My computer is infected with _______!!!!! What is a good FREE anti-virus?" or "I installed _______ program but it stops and gives me _____ error." These are good ways to ask questions also though. The difference is that the user is actually asking for information rather than stating that something doesn't work and should be changed to suite them indavidually. Questions in frustration are also not such an issue as they are pretty clear and everyone here has had at least one moment where they considered tossing a monitor or computer case over the cubicle wall or out a window. The questions that are a problem are the ones that smack of self entitlement; like everyone elses time is spent just waiting to rush solutions to there whims. Expectations that custom solutions should be provided sponteniously or complete projects should be scrapped and rewritten because how they've been developed is not the way that person would have done it. I'll usually give those kinds of questions the benefit of the doubt but if the followup question is clearly intended to vent rather than find solutions; it's not an honest question from a new user.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

You started out complaining about Linux having cryptic filenames, yet all your examples are from Windows.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]Nevermind people like that. They don't matter. Push them out of your way or step on them.[/i] ...and your other posts to this discussion, I'm not so sure I want your support.

j-mart
j-mart

But then they were a lump of rock with a stick tied on for a handle. This basic tool has been steadily improved and updated, new ones are made from alloy steel toughened and hardend, with a shock absorbing fibreglass handle, much stronger than wood. You don't see many of the rock and stick model in your local hardware shop these days.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

obscure software naming is not unique to any one platform or even any one product industry.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Hmmm, why do we call it Word, lets call it WINWORD.EXE Sound Recorder, forget that, its called sndrec32.exe Thats a much better name isn't it? Kind of Nix style. Now run wupdmgr.exe to update your computer, its located off of your explorer.exe tray.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]I was speaking of applications and labels, not files[/i] I often find myself explaining to a user that an application is a type of file that allows you to create, modify, view, print, save or otherwise manipulate data files such as documents or spreadsheets. A shortcut or link is like the tab on top of the file folder. But on the computer, [u]every one of them is a file![/u]

Slayer_
Slayer_

Sorry to be unclear. As programmer, I expect files to be cryptic, as they are no one elses business and the end user should never need to see them.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

Would tell you that a hammer is just so last century. Nevermind that there isn't anything that will really replace one. Nevermind that a nail gun won't pull nails. Nevermind people like that. They don't matter. Push them out of your way or step on them.

mechanicalmen
mechanicalmen

The start menu. Most users would NEVER come into contact with those abbreviations. Get a clue. Most end users don't even know what the hell a Win/system32 directory is. You are speaking in tongues to most people when you say something like that. They DO NOT EVER SEE THAT IN WINDOWS! If they ever do they call the 'puter guy. In India.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

a 'fox' is a good looking woman. 'Being on fire' is often used to mean someone is playing a game or sport at a level above others. There are just as many dumb names on both sides of the Great Divide. Give this one up, guys.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I didn't pull any DLLs from the directory listing, but I could have. [u]All[/u] DLLs joined the Windows world with Windows 95, which came long-filename-capable from the factory. Why then do all the DLLs have 8.3 filenames? As for the format "from last century", NTFS has its issues, but in my experience it's been at least as reliable as any other file system I've worked with in the last 35 years and more reliable than most.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Your complaint was with cryptic and "non-English" [u]filenames[/u] in Linux, was it not? My point was that the same cryptic and non-English filenames also still exist in Windows. How did we get from filenames to control panels?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With non-tech discussions, that?s exactly how it goes though; ?Firefox Browser?, ?Firefox Web Browser?, ?Thunderbird Email Client?. Or the context makes it obvious like in the case of searching a downloads.com for email clients and there it is; ?Thunderbird? along with ?Eudora? (another obvious naming choice). For non-english users, Windows software names are not so obvious either. I think if Excel was ported to other platforms, it would still be Excel. OpenOffice didn?t have to complicate the name of its spreadsheet app and that was originally a *nix build. It?s still just the label given to software clearly described afterward. Offtopic; ?as homosexuals are usually flaming? ? not really. It?s not hard to find the flamboyant folk in any group but there are plenty of people who one would never have reason to guess at preferences but at the end of the day, they happen to go home to the same gender. On the other hand, I?ve met people who one would be positive about preferring the same gender; except that they are strait as the day is long though eccentrically ?metrosexual?. I also know people who have left Manitoba due to the ?acceptance? shown for decisions that are purely personal and private.

Slayer_
Slayer_

The applications, do often have terriable names, why not call it ThunderBird Email, thus making it painfully obvious what it is? For the most part, in Windows, what the user sees is plain english names and discriptions. You won't find ndiswrapper anywhere because the name doesnt mean anything. To place this in a opposite perspective, if Excel was linux'ized, it would probably get a name like XlS.org. Firefox as homosextual, Fire, Flaming, Fox, Sly, Flaming sly homosexual (as homosexuals are usually flaming). Interesting side note, 99% of my support calls, if I say open your "Web browser" they ask me, "what is that?" If I say open "Internet Explorer" They understand perfectly 99.9% of the time.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I did mean excel.. which is completely misleading given the program it is bound too. What has velocity and acceleration have to do with a spreadsheet application. It takes MBA buzzword business speak to connect the two objects. Trumpet clearly means tcp/ip stack for win3.11. "win.com" is clearly more obvious than "startx". Either way, naming software with none-words is not remotely unique to any one platform. mirc, pidgin, icq, google.. just names though some now valued higher by market recognition. In the end, it's just a name given to a program. With graphic package managers, I search "web browser" and I get a list of programs with various names, and a description of what they do. Should ten different programs all be called "web browser" or should we continue to differentiate by naming them? I don't think it's because they program name is none-english. Familiarity has much more to do with it. Firefox and Thunderbird for web and mail are really not that confusing to many people how. At one time, the MS software titles where foreign to most users but through the same slow familiarity, they are not.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Did you mean excel? Excel is an english word, its a poorly chosen word but well, Firefox anyone? A web browser that actually sounds like the name of a sly homosexual?

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Mandriva has always been "degeek"ing.. it was one of the first to focus on the common end user. Hense, draketools.. what wonderful things they are. PCLinuxOS I believe is also a consumer targeted distribution and has been for a long time. Ubuntu is the popular one though so it get's the glory for doing the same thing as other distrubtions. Marketing works. As for Windows.. why does "exce" have nothing to do with velocity? It seems to be a spreadsheet application; when are they going to english that program name?

j-mart
j-mart

Of the old 8 character 3 character DOS file limitations. Consideration has to be given for Windows still using a format (NTFS) from last century.

xmechanic
xmechanic

LOL! I can't tell you how many times I've sifted through that mess trying to spot a non-MS file that was a possible virus (impossible to remove by conventional means). We're doomed to abbreviations no matter what OS we deal with.

Slayer_
Slayer_

We are no longer stuck to the 8.3 naming standard, this shit should get fixed! Here is a picture of the DSL control panel. http://www.dedoimedo.com/images/computers/2008/dsl-control-panel.jpg Please, lets list them, one at a time, shall we. Backup/Restore - Word Printer Setup - Word Date/Time - Word Dialup - Word PPPOE - Not Help - Word Netcardconfig - Not a word, though sort of obvious Wlanconfig - Not Ndiswrapper - Not Iwconfig - Not Prism2 - Not Xvesa - Not Backgrounds - Word Keyboard - Word PCMCIA Tool - Not a word but, unavoidable Floppy Tool - Word Select Mirror - Word System Stats - Word Printing/LDP - Close enough to word BetaFTP - Not Monkey Web - Huh??? SSH server - Good enough DHCP Client - Good enough Cron - Not Alright, so lets Tally this up. Out of 24 Button captions, 15 can be considered words? 15/24 = 62.5% So only 62.5% of Damn Small Linux is written in common english. Alright, Let's compare to the Windows control panel. Accessibility Options - Word Add Hardware - Word Add or Remove Programs - Word Adminstrative Tools - Word Automatic Updates - Word Date and Time - Word Device Control - Word Display - Word Folder Options - Word Fonts - Word Game Controllers - Word Internet Options - Word Keyboard - Word Mail - Word Mouse - Word Network Connections - Word Network Setup Wizard - Word Phone and Modem Options - Word Power Options - Word Printers and Faxes - Word Regional and Language options - Word Scanners and Cameras - Word Scheduled Tasks - Word Security Center - Word Sounds and Audio Devices - Word Speech - Word System - Vague, but its a word Taskbar and Start Menu - Word User accounts - Word Windows Firewall - Word Wireless network setup wizard - Word Now lets Tally those up Out of 31 options, 31 are considered words found in common english. 31/31 = 100% Hmm, DSL seems to fall short here... Shall I try another Distro, what about Ubuntu? http://www.anirudhsanjeev.org/wp-content/uploads/ubuntu11.jpg Oh thank god, its in english, there is hope for this distro yet :). Mandriva... http://polishlinux.org/reviews/mandriva_2007_odin/gnome_mandriva_control_center.png Hmm, I rather like this, more my style I think. Those last two distros could safely be considered as populour, couldn't they? Could it be perhaps because they are finally being de-geeked? Maybe in 10 more years, it will be on the same dumbed down level as Windows is now. (This thought scares me :()

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