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  • Blog - Written by on Thursday, November 4, 2010 16:31 - 59 Comments

    Why can’t we get Linux on the desktop right?

    blog Fascinating post here from Matt Marlor, Sydney IT manager par extraordinaire and one of the chief wranglers of the AuTechHeads user group. Marlor documents his experience of installing the latest version of Ubuntu on his HP notebook and ruminates on why the operating system isn’t more popular than it already is.

    A couple of key paragraphs:

    As a primarily Microsoft geek, I don’t necessarily want Windows and the rest of my favourite Microsoft products to go away. But the reality of Linux is there, and it does only get better. I must honestly say that I far prefer Linux to Mac OS X – and yes, I know well that it has its own Unix implementation, but it’s just never done it for me.

    And:

    My perfect enterprise would be one where products are selected on their merit, and interoperate seamlessly. Many desktop users could, in a perfect world, use a Linux desktop or even an embedded Linux device, and be fully productive.

    Like Marlor, I too have recently installed Ubuntu 10.10 on a machine to test it out, and I stand by my comments back in April 2009 that the operating systems’ user interface is as slick as Windows 7 or Mac OS X. It’s certainly easier to install than Windows 7 — probably on par with Mac OS X.

    While I think I’ll stick to Windows 7 on the desktop for now, we do use Ubuntu (and the excellent Boxee) as our family’s media centre. And at various times in my career — including as a journalist — I have used Ubuntu full-time as an operating system and been quite happy with it.

    To be honest, I think the problem with Linux at the moment is that it’s a desktop operating system solution looking for a problem. Most users are happy either with the stability and style of Mac OS X, or Windows 7 with its vastly improved stability and its top-level application compatibility. There really isn’t much reason to switch at the moment.

    Thoughts?

    Image credit: arrayexception, Creative Commons

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    1. Paul
      Posted 04/11/2010 at 5:55 pm | Permalink |

      Few reasons to switch:

      Security, price, performance, experimentation, free inbuilt programs …

      At least dual-boot and get the best of both worlds.

      • Posted 04/11/2010 at 6:00 pm | Permalink |

        I’m torn between the functionality and idealism of Ubuntu, and Linux in general, and the fact that I am also tied into the world of Getting Things Done (look it up). I just GTD a lot better with Windows, for all its flaws. I like tinkering with Linux and probably will until the day I die, but it doesn’t seem to make me more productive at my core functionality, which is writing and journalism.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 2:38 pm | Permalink |

          GNU/Linux on the desktop is great. You just need to spend more time at it or get help from people who know what they are doing.

          As a person who’s used gnu/linux as a desktop for more than ten years, I say that Getting Things Done is a lot easier with free software than it is with Windows. What might take a little tinkering or getting used to in GNU/Linux usually takes a trip to wallet land or is impossible in Windows. I’d be dead in the water without the excellent KDE Kontact with all of it’s mature, stable applications. I tried, for example, to use Outlook last year and found it seriously lacking in features like threaded conversations, search that works or encryption. Browsers, filemanagers and hundreds of specialized tools for research, writing and science also leave their Windows counterparts far behind except for one or two exceptions most that most people don’t care about.

          It’s sad to read about people saying they don’t see a compelling reason to move to gnu/linux. Being forced into the limited world of Windows for a year was a frustrating part of the job I had previous to the one I have now. I still have to put up with legacy applications at my new job, but I can handle them all through Windows Terminal services, which also gives me screen space that Windows won’t. Side by side, Windows is ugly, inefficient and plain old buggy, the way it’s been for the last 17 years I’ve know it. The best that people can tell me about Windows 7 is that it’s “not so bad” and “better than Vista”. They can’t tell me that DRM issues have gotten any better, that file indexing does not cream performance in a few short months or that it’s any better than any machine hogging version of Windows. I’ve written a log of Vista and Windows 7 failures and don’t see anything new from Microsoft. As Android eats up most of everyone’s computing needs, I can say with confidence that 2010 was the year of Linux and that the future of computing belongs to free software. People who refuse to give it a fair chance are doing themselves a great disservice.

        • Posted 03/12/2010 at 9:20 am | Permalink |

          This is one thing I Agree with you on Renai, I tend to GTD on Windows, and “waste time” cocking about with all the “cool things” that Linux can do. At the end of the day, it’s not as controllable out of the box as a windows machine on a windows domain, not without a lot of knowledge and training, all of our corporate software is written for windows, and at the end of the day I come home, and all of my PC game titles are written for Windows, sure you can fake it with WINE for some of the part, but I don’t want to have to deal with WINE bugs and emulating w32 binaries, why not just use windows?

          I’ve always felt that Linux is great (FANTASTIC) for servers and embedded devices like routers or single purpose appliances, and now mobile phones with Android & others, but Windows is more comfortable as a desktop, and that’s mostly what it’s about for me, comfort.

    2. Posted 04/11/2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink |

      If it was not my ability to get Lord of the Rings Online working on Linux, Windows would be dead to me.

      I did a review of Ubuntu Netbook Edition for APCMAG website, and I loved it. I love the idea that Ubuntu is moving towards the Unity desktop in 11.04, as it is a nice desktop environment. I am usually a KDE pimper, but I dont think many people get the idea of the desktop as an app.

      I also like VirtualBox to run windows apps under linux, but since Oracle seems to be as popular as genital herpes with the Open Source movement, I shudder how Virtual Box will go in the future (see OpenOffice for example of rats leaving a sinking ship)

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:06 am | Permalink |

        “If it was not my ability to get Lord of the Rings Online working on Linux, Windows would be dead to me.”

        You just earned major nerd street cred, you KDE pimper you.

    3. Posted 04/11/2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink |

      The problem with linux is that it is free.

      ps: The href= missed the M in the in-article link.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 8:57 am | Permalink |

        I don’t see why it’s a problem that Linux is free. And you can find people who are willing to charge for it ifyou really want that ;)

        And which link is defective? They seem to work for me.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:42 pm | Permalink |

          What I meant, of which I gave you no chance to firgure out, is; Consumers are still in the “I want an IMB” era of desktop computing when it comes to the OS.

          Case: My mother can use windows for online banking due to it being “mircosoft”… she feels safe despite knowing of the risks and understanding that the browser she uses is not microsoft made.

          If i sit her infront of my linux box … she feels safe due to it being my box and I wouldnt expose her to risk.

          If I told her the software was free… id get that look. You know the one… the “Excuse me ? – *confused* turning *concern*” hybird expression. If I told her the OS was “Better value for money”… I would not get the look.

          Free is not the best selling point in some cases. (Yes, I know you can pay for linux.)

          And the links all work fine… I was talking about the M not being inside the herf= tags in the second link “my comments back in April 2009″

    4. Posted 04/11/2010 at 9:41 pm | Permalink |

      The perception is that Windows is supported (which it isn’t). Who ever got MS to fix a bug for them?

      The perception is that Linux isn’t supported (which it is). Bugs are reported and fixed all the time in the FOSS world.

      The problem is the perception, though.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 8:58 am | Permalink |

        To be honest, I don’t think many corporations are calling Microsoft constantly for support these days. I think it’s more that the cost of changing isn’t worth the benefit at this stage, when Windows has improved so much over the past few years.

    5. Glenn
      Posted 04/11/2010 at 10:19 pm | Permalink |

      Clear Linux advantages are security, scalability, robustness.

      Games are the “killer app” for windows. Wine will be the “killer app” for linux.

      Wine is getting better all the time, but its still not at the stage where you can assume any windows program will work. Open source 3D drivers for ATI cards will help when they get done, it will remove a driver binary blob mixed up in the middle of the stack which is currently complicating things for users and developers..

      Linux can clearly be a superior product on all fronts one day, but there will still the problem of getting users “who just want it to be easy” to be brave enough to try something new.

      As teckies, we underestimate the problems that normal users have. An example, someone close to me just installed a new version of MS office because open office “looked different”, he explained to me how the menu’s looked different and features where in different places.

      Some people will hand over big wads of cash so they dont have to learn something new, its not a question of which product is technically better if the person doesnt want to use any computer.

      It will be really difficult to get people who arent confident with computers (and there are lots of them) to change to a whole new OS, it might take generations.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink |

        To be honest, WINE has been in development for about a decade now, and hasn’t even managed to solve most basic problems that Linux users face (for example, Photoshop). I don’t think Linux is the way of the future — for me personally, I think cloud apps and virtualised, instantly deployable operating systems are the way of the future.

        Abstract Windows, don’t run Linux.

        • Dagny
          Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:13 pm | Permalink |

          Anyone who can say they really need Photoshop instead of the GIMP is probably using a Mac already.

          Luckily for me, Wine devs seem to be more concerned with running World of Warcraft.

        • Glenn
          Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:54 pm | Permalink |

          True, WINE has been in development for quite a while, but it is making real progress. Problem is its like painting the Sydney Harbor Bridge, they get a version of photoshop working then a new version comes out that doesnt work.

          Another story, a different friend of mine used Windows XP, doesn’t have an Internet connection. He had copied the VLC (or maybe it was mplayer) program directory on a memory stick so that when he reinstalled XP he could copy the folder over and run a better media player.

          Anyway, i installed Linux for him, he called me with a codec problem, i took a look at it, he was running the windows version through WINE under Linux without even realizing it. Thats the sort of progress we need, things that just work…

          Imagine for a moment that WINE did run perfectly, any windows app could run under Linux without noticeable differences, would that be the “killer app”, what else would linux need ?

          WINE is a beautiful thing when it just works.

          As for the “Cloud”, i think its mostly just fluff, users are loosing control of their apps/data and gaining nothing as compared to a local install. The cloud is useful if local resources are limited, other than that its just damage and will be “upgraded” to local apps in time.

    6. joey
      Posted 04/11/2010 at 10:55 pm | Permalink |

      “There really isn’t much reason to switch at the moment.”

      “Most users are happy either with the stability and style of Mac OS X, or Windows 7 with its vastly improved stability and its top-level application compatibility.”

      Get real, shill.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:53 am | Permalink |

        Not a shill, he’s not talking from our techie perspective, he’s talking about average Joe and hey is right. As far as “Joe” is concerned there is no reason to switch.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink |

          And I think Microsoft would probably agree that I’m no shill — I have given them enough shit over the years ;)

    7. Posted 04/11/2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink |

      The constant flux within FLOSS is exciting for computer enthusiasts, but for those afraid of computers, they prefer to keep things as static as possible. Changing GNOME buttons and colours every 6mo within Ubuntu isn’t a draw for newbs; now with the Unity interface coming for Ubuntu and with GNOME changing its entire concept of a desktop, there is even more upheaval on the GBOME desktop. KDE’s desktop has always been awesome and, other than early instability with KDE 4.0, has remained relatively consistant in its behaviour, but it too has changes that come down the pipe quickly.

      So, make a desktop that doesn’t change, and that is a start.

      The next step is allowing users to install apps that they’ve downloaded from websites; GDebi does this for Ubuntu and Debian, but Ubuntu’s packages don’t work in Debian (and vice versa), so the .deb package on that website may or may not work for my distro. .RPM files have had this issue for years on RHEL, SuSE, Fedora, PCLOS; Ubuntu would do well by changing the file extension to .ubu (keep the same aptitude technology, just change the file name). This would assist much in letting Ubuntu and Debian both keep their branding clear and allowing their distros to maintain its quality sandards (because the .deb package would work on Debian, and the .ubu file would work on Ubuntu, and no one would wonder why the .deb isn’t working or if its the wrong distro).

      So the second fix is: better ‘one-off’ package installs for downloaded packages, and distinction of the packages and their intended distro (.ubu specifically, as the .rpm group is already lost with this)

      I think these are both important but it would take a lot of advertizing as well to get the FLOSS desktop out there.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink |

        I don’t have much of a problem installing apps on Ubuntu now — in fact it’s easier than Windows, and I would rate Ubuntu’s current user interface above that of Windows 7 in terms of usability. In fact, I think it’s more about the underlying architecture — Windows is stable enough, and secure enough, these days, that there is simply no big reason to change as there was back in the day.

        I used to run Ubuntu because Windows XP was crap. But Windows 7 just isn’t crap. It’s not amazing — but it’s not crap.

    8. Posted 04/11/2010 at 11:49 pm | Permalink |

      What? Any desktop environment or window manager you select, depending on your preference, is vastly better than any Windows. If you want to take the two most similar in looks, KDE 4 and Windows 7, the Linux environment ist still more functional and better looking.
      I have Win 7 here as well but only keeping it for gaming (one day, in winter), so it’s mostly unused. It is simply too slow with all the virus scanning and stuff enabled.

      Can’t talk about Mac OS X, but don’t like the idea of proprietary software on proprietary hardware. And have you looked at the prices?

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink |

        When you think about things in terms of Getting Things Done, the Mac OS X prices don’t seem that bad. I have found myself to just be more effective when running Mac OS X normally. It’s why I’m about to buy some for the Delimiter office. I’ll stay on Windows 7, but I need our staff to work effectively, so they’ll be using Macs. Less maintenance required than Windows 7.

    9. Gary W
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:41 am | Permalink |

      Windows’ biggest feature (maybe OSX too) is user inertia. At least 90% of its users would be much happier with any modern desktop Linux, if only because of the terror-inducing malware, booby-trapped emails, and poisonous Web sites.

      On the other hand, Linux’s middle name is flexibility. It can be adapted to massive supercomputer clusters, racks full of servers, single desktop systems, all the way to consumer gizmos like phones and wireless access points. We are starting to see it hidden in things like cars and TVs. Contrast with Apple and Microsoft, where it’s “our way or the next version”. So the desktop world is a subset of Linux world domination – a slow-moving one.

      But that’s OK; nothing happens quickly in the general-purpose OS world. Witness OS/2, whose journey from splash to crash took some 15 years (and it is still for sale). Windows took about 6 years to become usable, and another 6 years to become stable. It is now a reasonably good product, but it is a Microsoft product (and I don’t just mean “licensed-not-sold”); Linux, in a practical sense, belongs to us all.

      I never let myself get too committed to any platform, format, or technology, having suffered many annoying and painful transitions. Of course, I am a special case, having worked in what we now call “IT” for over forty years :-)

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink |

        +1 to this post

        I think of it more or less the same way these days. Use technology in a fit for purpose way — not a generalised evangelist way.

    10. masked_interrupt
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 1:33 am | Permalink |

      We cant get it right because we are a community of geeks and only like to do the things that we like to do and we do not care to do the right things for the non geeks.

      We fail because we are geeks and we Linux is for geeks because we fail.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:05 am | Permalink |

        Not sure I really agree with this … Ubuntu is clearly suitable for non-geeks, the user interface is better than that of Windows 7, in my opinion.

    11. docatomic
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:29 am | Permalink |

      @masked_interrupt: agree, agree, agree… devs are into it for the programming freedom, but they’re the only ones who are, and they just can’t understand why other people don’t want to do it the way they do. Sometimes I think that maybe the only reason they ever bothered with GUIs at all was because of the chance to possibly impress a female… that’s why I jokingly refer to it as a “Girlfriend’s User Interface”. :-))

    12. Mike H
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:34 am | Permalink |

      The essential thing that is missing is large-scale OEM support. I mean something like Dell actually marketing and supporting Ubuntu on par with its Windows offerings and not hiding the few Ubuntu models somewhere in the depths of its vast website. It doesn’t have to be Dell, of course, any large OEM might do. Better hardware and ISV support and the availability of competitive preinstalled systems would fall out of this. Not to say that Linux doesn’t already have good hardware support, but there are various pitfalls that would go away with major corporate support.

      The preinstalled systems are essential. If Windows comes preinstalled and Linux does not, and the advantages of Linux take some time and thinking on the part of the customer to realize, then Windows is going to win every time.

      Of course, such a thing would require the OEM to directly take Microsoft on in a massive way, which would certainly look unappealing to any CEO. Google’s ChromeOS might be able to change things, but it’s not a conventional desktop.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:06 am | Permalink |

        Perhaps, and yet Linux has had OEM support in the past. Dell, IBM … quite a few companies have offered it at one stage or another.

    13. Edwin Ironshoes
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 5:13 am | Permalink |

      Yes I have a thought. This is a boring subject that has been done to death, and you bring nothing new to the discussion. Like a hamster on a wheel.

    14. Posted 05/11/2010 at 8:05 am | Permalink |

      I agree totally with the whole GTD concept. I have tried and tested several Linux distros but the ease of use for your everyday ‘I want to do some stuff user’ isn’t there.

      It looks great, it’s cool to say you use Linux but hello – Mac OS X is Debian based to the Core!

      I’m also a big fan of Windows 7 – and I am not afraid to admit it – I believe it’s Microsoft’s best OS yet. On the other hand with reference to Barnaby:

      “Can’t talk about Mac OS X, but don’t like the idea of proprietary software on proprietary hardware. And have you looked at the prices?”

      Hello – I’ve had my MacBook since 2006. It’s never broken down on me. The built in web cam has died after 4 years, and the Bluetooth functionality is a bit hit and miss now, but I can still stick it up on eBay and get half what it cost back then if I sell it, if not more.

      You honestly get what you pay for, and although a Dell running Linux may be better than a Dell running Windows – it will have lost all it’s value within a year or two of owning it.

      My two cents.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 11:00 am | Permalink |

        “It looks great, it’s cool to say you use Linux but hello – Mac OS X is Debian based to the Core!”

        No. OSX is based upon NeXTSTEP, which is a blend of FreeBSD and NetBSD from the BSD family of Unix. Debian on the other hand is part of the GNU/Linux family, a completely separate branch of Unix which to my knowledge shares none of it’s core with any of the BSD family.

        “Hello – I’ve had my MacBook since 2006. It’s never broken down on me. The built in web cam has died after 4 years, and the Bluetooth functionality is a bit hit and miss now, but I can still stick it up on eBay and get half what it cost back then if I sell it, if not more.”

        I recently bought a new PC, it cost me about 800GBP. I was thinking about a Mac but I realized something; in order to get the sames specs as my current beast of a machine I would have to pay in the regeion of 2500GBP.

        No one is saying Mac products are bad quality, far from it. But they ARE overpriced.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:26 pm | Permalink |

          Yeah, Apple could stand to cut the price a bit on Macs, to be sure — especially with their massive cash warchest they’re hoarding.

          • Posted 05/11/2010 at 7:52 pm | Permalink |

            They’re not so bad off though, and are one of a few businesses doing well throughout the recession.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink |

          You get what you pay for IMO.

    15. Posted 05/11/2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink |

      “Windows 7 with its vastly improved stability and its top-level application compatibility.”

      Uh, what? Application compatibility? In Windows 7? How many programs don’t work with that? I don’t mean “Are there more than in Vista”, but rather “go compare it to XP”.

      Or better still: Go compare it to a nicely integrated GNU/Linux distribution.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink |

        *cough*

        I haven’t yet found an app that doesn’t work on Windows 7 … and if it doesn’t, you can always use its in-built Windows XP virtualisation. Are you saying Windows XP is *more* compatible? Or Vista? Give me a break.

        • Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink |

          *cough* Windows7 64bit *cough*

          I’ve been using a 64bit GNU/Linux systems for years, and almost all my programs are native 64bit.

          A friend of mine has a 64bit Laptop with Windows and he’s constantly wining like I was when I was still a Mac User: “No programs run for me”.

          • Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:25 pm | Permalink |

            Interesting — what Windows 7 apps does he have problem with? I have been running Windows 7 x64 for a year — and even during the beta and RC phases — without problems.

            • Posted 05/11/2010 at 9:28 pm | Permalink |

              Apps which had no 64bit version available for download. And that’s not only a windows thing: It’s a free software vs. unfree software thing. It’s something which windows can’t ever copy without opting for developers to at least open up their sources.

              In GNU/Linux, users who had 64bit machines just compiled their favorite programs for 64bit, tested them that way, provided patches and thus gave their work back to the community. That’s why we had 64bit compatibility very early while MacOSX and Windows took their dear time.

              I have *arm* targets for most of my programs. My Mercurial could be installed on alpha amd64 arm hppa ia64 ppc ppc64 sparc x86.

              So can you imagine what system will be the first to run on a new (openly specified) hardware architecture, once that becomes only slightly popular? Who will still have all his programs available and who won’t?

              Can you imagine the pain of my friend when he bought his new laptop and found out his programs don’t run on it because, well, it is 64bit. Sadly he still sticks with Windows, because that’s what he knows (user momentum).

              Also I well remember his curses when he found out, that his new webhoster differenciates between uppercase and lowercase files and he hadn’t checked that, because windows doesn’t (even show it correctly if two files which differ only by case sit next to each other).

              Oh yes, and that’s where GNU/Linux has one its strong momentum sources: If you want to host a website, it’s *very* likely that the server will be a GNU/Linux machine, so better avoid testing the site on Windows only. And more and more people want to host websites.

    16. todd
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 10:33 am | Permalink |

      Im happy to know that I live in a perfect world, its so uplifting to hear.

      Switched to Linux a little over 2 years ago.
      Like it and changed out 6 home computers/laptops/netbooks to it leaving one dual boot and one VM version of XP.

      A year later, Ive moved the 15 or so family and friends for whom I do free tech support to Linux.
      This year we are finishing moving our little promotional company of 22 employees (and another dozen temp or part timers) to KDE based Linux keeping a handful of Windows and Mac machines for various tasks and reasons,
      For us 40-50 less Windows/Office laden desktops make sense both financially (Microsoft licenses, antivirus costs and recycling of old hardware) and and in terms of workhours our IT department (3 people) have to spend with the usual Windows waste of time.
      With the time savings, our IT guys asked and received 10% of work time to devote to free software projects they are involved in. Only one of those projects really benefits the company but its still worth it.
      Our IT guys really pushed hard and did a great job convincing our three owners of the costs and technical benefits and we havent regretted it so far.

      We truly live in a perfect world.

      I use OS10, XP/Vista7 and two Linux desktops at work every day and the Linux desktops more than hold their own. Everything depends on non technical issues for greater acceptance. That’s politics, extortion, threats, lawsuits, backroom deals and things closer to mafia like behaviour than anything else. But unlike other great technologies that lost against inferior ones, the Linux desktop isnt going away. Gnome, KDE and XCFE (my new fave is E17) will not disappear.

      My 12 year old Thinkpad with P3-800 and P4 desktops for kids will still serve as long as the hardware lasts.

      So it doesnt have market dominance? So what? Apple was never more than an afterthought to Redmond dominance and it didnt diminish the experience for users. Market shares are unimportant for Linux desktops continuity which is why it will do fine in the long run and will remain the desktop that will be able to bring innovation the quickest to users.

      3 years ago the Linux desktop was just starting to be usable, Now its at par.
      Why should technical innovation stop now?

    17. oiaohm
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 10:34 am | Permalink |

      Everyone asks the same question but the answer is simple.

      1) Poor foundations under the desktop.
      You cannot build a house without solid foundations. Many desktop attempts you look at the foundations they sit on and the outcome of failure is predictable.
      X11 not supporting flicker free rendering until recent years. Support vsync and other items missing. Audio stack being a on going mess. Init system being based of 30 year text based designs. All these have been ignored for flashy.

      Good part this is coming to the end.

      2) Hardware support. More companies providing support the way Linux wants. Highly secure OS’s being able to audit the complete sourcecode in use is kinda critical. This goes head to head with the way MS with windows made drivers work. Pre 95 lot of companies to get there hardware used had to release specs. The age of specs being released is returning. As well as the open source world starting to fight legally and other means for true open standards. Its a requirement to make a usable desktop.

      3) Lack of a common market for applications. Meego may solve this. Common market is required to get games and other closed source programs. Distributions yes have created markets but they don’t normally go to create a common market between them.

      Linux not getting anywhere all this time is not unpredictable. One of the things that will bring the Linux Desktop back to live is the fact that supercomputers are now using GPU’s to assist processing and the Linux entry into the Mobile market. Neither of these groups are stupid. They will focus on getting foundation solid. Where the old Linux desktop developers were more lets make it look cool to attract people. Don’t care if it don’t work right its cool. Really if you are MS when Windows 8 release comes around you will have fear. That will most likely give the moblie and supercomputer guys time to put a solid footings under Linux Desktop so making it a true blown threat.

      Also Linux is running out markets to expand into without taking the desktop. Desktop from numbers of developers it will pull in will be the least paying. Like there is basically no more room in super or high performance any more Linux basically dominates that. Mobile Linux is will on its way to make a solid to dominating foot hold there. Lot of embed devices Linux has a solid footing there.

      Yes the expand into desktop by Linux most likely will be because there is nothing else left that Linux is not dominating that can be dominated without the desktop.

    18. Mikey T
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink |

      I would say most PCs accounted for in the operating system usage statistics exist in large organisations. I know the organisation I work for has 700+ Windows applications that are either in Zenworks NAL format or MSI. To convert / replace / run (ie. via WINE) all of these on Linux would be such a mamoth task and at such a large cost (mainly resource time) without any guarantee of success at the end. Although the cost benefits would be realised over time the organisation isn’t going to want to pay for this up front, particularly if they don’t know for sure they will all work. You then need people at the end who are capable of supporting Linux rather than Windows (ie. MCSE) as we do currently. There is a case for pockets of linux PCs that only do certain things but again you need the staff to be able to support them.

      Personally, I love Linux and always will but I can’t see it getting rolled out as a standard in my organisation any time soon.

      Regards,
      Mike.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

        This is a pretty common story in the organisations that I talk to. The one thing I’m surprised about is why more organisations haven’t shifted to the Mac — it offers many of the same advantages as Linux, and much better application compatibility.

    19. Les
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 12:56 pm | Permalink |

      It’s simple. Don’t talk down to people who don’t want to use the command line, you’ll never win normal users over that way. Stop harping on open source purism and give them the codecs they need to run stuff out of the box, like Mint does. They really don’t care about your views, they just want to use the computer, and if you don’t let them, Windows will. Don’t give names to all the programs in the software centre that only make sense to developers born with penguin tattoos on their arms. And stop criticizing great leaders like Mark Shuttleworth for getting Linux out there for people to experience.

    20. Brendan
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink |

      The problem in the home user space, is perception. And or a lack of knowledge that such an option exists. There’s also the steep learning curve. The same could be said for switching to Mac, but there’s a lot more hand holding available. And a big company to poke a stick at when it all goes wrong.

      With FOSS, you have, in some cases, MANY people to point MANY sticks at. It doesn’t work.

      For all the advances Ubuntu has made, it’s still just a ‘skinned’ unix derivative. Meaning that unlike recent advances in windows – where going anywhere near the command prompt can typically be avoided – there are times in Linux you just don’t have a choice. Which makes it not Joe Average friendly.

      The problem is the business space is far more academic. Applications.

      Corporations, and to some extent smaller businesses have (typically) a vast investment in core applications. The front-ends are almost invariably designed to run on windows (even if the backend is sitting on an AIX, HP-UX or such UNIX environment).

      It’s rare to see an enterprise change it’s clothes. Sometimes you’ll see a change into FOSS, followed by a change back. Corporations like SLAs. They like predicable. And they like support that fits in a definable box.

      Linux has always been very much an ‘alternative’ option. More often than not, political (and sometimes rather public) infighting within FOSS groups tends to result in a notion that it’s not ‘serious’ about pitching to businesses. You can sell stabile, supported product when there’s a turf war rampaging in the background.

      So we have, in many ways, a solution that’s yet to address the problem. Granted, an increasing number of FOSS developers have realised there’s a valid model in the ‘free to use + paid support’ but that’s still a bit of a rarity.

      Microsoft most often wins in the desktop space, because it has always sold it’s rock-solid footprint and backwards compatibility, backing a horrendously HUGE marketing budget. That has a snow-ball like effect, that causes people to re-invest in the platform, even if it’s not actually the better option.

      People don’t deploy Windows because they (necessarily) particularly great. But because it’ll work with the same crap as 3 years ago. Linux? Good luck. If you have a lifecycle measured in 2-3 years, Linux isn’t a good option.

      It’s still a solution trying to understand the question, so much as looking for the problem.

    21. Posted 05/11/2010 at 3:39 pm | Permalink |

      Wine solved the basic problem for a friend of mine: “How can my children play their MMORPG on GNU/Linux”. Works perfectly. Photoshop isn’t necessary for most people.

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |

        Winex from Transgaming is also good for that.

    22. Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:20 pm | Permalink |

      I run a macbook pro with an ubuntu VM and a windows VM, just downloaded the latest OpenSuSe ISO, it installed on my win box at home, connected to wifi, found the printer, connected to it and away we go. Mac was the same. windows? 23 minutes of torture found the printer, downloaded the drivers, then spent another 15mins “discovering” it.

      Linux is a better O/S for new users, the Cube feature is a winner, and I know there are windows users who would love to be able to drape their media player over a corner of a cube screen. They can’t, I can, and it really makes it fun as well. That is the point. Linux runs on any hardware, windows dictates the hardware. That is where it went a bit wrong, whoever heard of an o/s driving hardware technology changes?

      • Posted 05/11/2010 at 4:22 pm | Permalink |

        I used to have driver problems with Windows, but not since Windows 7 came along — I don’t think I’ve ever installed any drivers on it.

    23. Jay76
      Posted 05/11/2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink |

      > Why can’t we get Linux on the desktop right?

      To get something right, you’d need to have some sort of goal to aim for. Linux seems to have such a distributed, many-faceted pupose that you could never truly say it has succeeded.

    24. mcinsand
      Posted 06/11/2010 at 2:07 am | Permalink |

      GTD… this is where Windows failed massively for me, and I have been either Linux or BSD only for my personal computing for the past 6 years (and, yes, I have tried Vista and Win 7). With a busy job and 4 kids, I just found that I did not have time to spend dealing with Windows’ lack of reliability.

      Regards,
      mc

    25. Posted 08/11/2010 at 6:23 am | Permalink |

      “I think the problem with Linux at the moment is that it’s a desktop operating system solution looking for a problem”

      Alt title: Windows/MAC OS X has happy feet (Your Linux wears army boots.).

    26. IT_SUPPORT_DESK
      Posted 23/11/2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink |

      The Average user is so totally useless at understanding how to use a computer and simply wants THINGS TO WORK.
      That is why there is no way we will ever see a swing to LINUX, thanks to Microsoft Office for example.

      Everyone says Linux should not COPY the Windows OS (yet Bill copied the MAC GUI and still does)

      The fact is LINUX must totally copy the WINDOWS interface, only then will you have a chance for market adoption.

    27. Posted 30/11/2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink |

      The closest a *nix OS will get to mass mainstream desktop use is Mac OS X, but then again it already has mass mainstream acceptance! Most average users don’t actually even realize it’s a *nix based OS.

      Apple has achieved in the desktop OS space what other *nix/non-*nix vendors could only dream. Microsoft needs to take a good hard look at itself and consider the reasonS why this is the case…. Security, Stability, Cost & User Experience are a few that immediately pop up.

      Linux as a desktop OS does not have enough application developer support to become more than what it is. Linux as a server OS however has belted MS for many years, especially when it comes to webservers. The traditional LAMP stack controls the largest percentage of market share (60%) by a very large margin while the use of MS continues to decline (Netcraft Web Server Survey – Nov2010 : http://ow.ly/3hgvw)

    28. Paul2471
      Posted 30/09/2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink |

      Do we have an ASX suitable trading platform which installs and works in Linux ?




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