Desktop Linux: The Dream Is Dead

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Whether or not you agree with the authors opinion that Linux’s chances of being a major desktop OS are now dead, you have to admit that a free operating system having 1% market share when competing products cost hundreds of dollars is disheartening to say the least.

Ultimately, Linux is doomed on the desktop because of a critical lack of content. And that lack of content owes its existence to two key factors: the fragmentation of the Linux platform, and the fierce ideology of the open-source community at large.
 

niconx

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I would have to agree, it's dead. The Linux kernel developers spend too much time arguing about esoteric technical and legal issues and not enough time solving problems to make a modern OS.
 

Diseaseboy

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Hate to give Microsoft credit but Windows 7 is a good OS. I deleted my Linux installs after using Win 7- see no need for it now.
 

DeathFromBelow

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Over the past few years, modern Linux distributions such as Ubuntu have utterly transformed the open-source desktop user experience into something sleek and simple, while arguably surpassing Windows and Mac OS in both security and stability.
No, no, and no.

People are actually surprised that it's hard to innovate and compete with commercial products when you aren't making money? Free/open source software has a place and can be beneficial to the community, but the idea that commercial software is evil and should be avoided seems pretty dangerous to me.
 

niconx

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No, no, and no.

People are actually surprised that it's hard to innovate and compete with commercial products when you aren't making money? Free/open source software has a place and can be beneficial to the community, but the idea that commercial software is evil and should be avoided seems pretty dangerous to me.
If Linux is expected to be taken seriously it has no option but to compete.
 

tesfaye

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I tried to go Linux a few times and was dissapointed each time. I was hoping to see Linux gain some more traction, but it's been too long and I don't see it going anywhere on the desktop.
 

scaarbelly

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I really like the versatility of linux and overall think it is very usable. BUT, there is always at least one issue that is a huge pain in the ass to find a fix for. This kills the deal for me every time.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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It's not for everyone, that's for sure.

I happily use it as my primary OS - however.

I haven't found lack of content to be an issue.

Yes. If you are a brand whore and just HAVE to use iTunes or MS Word, then yes, that is a problem, but there are perfectly acceptable alternatives for Linux. Both Amarok and Rhythmbox are very good music players (I prefer them to iTunes), and both Openoffice and to a lesser extent star office are very capable word processors. (Then there's always crossover-office if you are intolerant of minor UI differences and absolutely need to use Word...)

Heck, there is even a free Photoshop-like image editor in Gimp. Sure its a few revisions behind Photoshop from a features standpoint, but it can still do almost everything Photoshop can and it doesn't cost hundreds of dollars.

Widespread adoption of Linux as an every mans desktop was never more than a pipe dream. There are too big business interests involved to break the chain of software availability, consumer awareness and computer bundles. It's a perfectly good alternative for some - however.

That, and while Windows has made great strides in the last few years, Linux is still the more secure (nope, not just because of obscurity) and more stable operating system.

While Linux can be tricky to get to work with some hardware on occasion (though much less today with the Ubuntu installer that pretty much just takes care of everything, even more so than Windows 7 does) when installed to satisfaction, I have never once in over 15 years of using it had the operating system hard lock on me, like with windows. That there is just one of the many reason I prefer it to working on Windows.

There is great value in the open source software development model that leads to greater peer review and transparency, something closed source development can never dream for. This is why linux holds a security edge.
 

Quake

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Who cares!!!

Choice is always good and there are a lot of people (like me) who likes Linux and will prefer this OS above any other OS.

And oh, it might not capture the market share but meh... it's SLOWLY growing. No need to invade the Windows or OS X market share.
 

westrock2000

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the fragmentation of the Linux platform, and the fierce ideology of the open-source community at large.
This is pretty accurate from my customer viewpoint. I hate having to "shop" for Linux. At home I just use whatever we are using at work so that I'll be familiar with the folder layouts. And when it gets down to the command line (which is was I use the most) there all the same.

Since Microsoft can set all the rules for Windows, its means standardization. DirectX is one of the greatest things thats ever happened to the computer. It was terrible back in the DOS and early Windows days trying to get games or videos or sound files to work. But now stuff just works. And it because Microsoft "forced" things on us. I also know that if I send out a video in an email at work or to friends that WMV will play on all their computers because again Windows "forced" it on us (except for the Europeans with their N version).

I love Linux in the work enviornment. The command line is very strong. You have access to several different languages (Shell script and Perl are the ones I use) already built in. But its just too damn boring to use in the heavy multimedia/entertainment content of a normal user. I don't use command lines or care about logging into remote hosts when I'm at home doing stupid stuff, so I don't need an OS that focuses on that.

I guess this would be like saying that we don't need 18 wheelers because hardly anyone drives them and they represent such a small part of the driven vehicles. While that may be true, for what 18 wheelers are used for they excel greatly, and thus they are quite important.
 

SticKx911

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package installer? windows doesn't have that. if you need to accomplish a task, pull that up install the program and you're done. no google searching for "linux media player" or whatever else youre trying to do. I love linux, and ubnuntu is really close to being a windows replacement. If I were running a small business I'd see it as an EASY way to save a ton of cash by not forking it out to microsoft (OS and office). Is it perfect, no, is it a headache at times, yes. but windows has always been the same but we put up with it because it does what we need it to do.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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Since Microsoft can set all the rules for Windows, its means standardization. DirectX is one of the greatest things thats ever happened to the computer. It was terrible back in the DOS and early Windows days trying to get games or videos or sound files to work. But now stuff just works.
Ever heard of OpenGL?

Open source and predated DirextX by three years (1992 vs 1995). Back in the day, John Carmack even preferred it (rather emphatically so) over directX.

Microsoft - however - being one of the largest and wealthiest firms in the world had the marketing, money and coercion muscle to push their product over everything else and thus we see very few OpenGL titles anymore.
 

bigstusexy

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With the blub (didn't read the article) I disagree, content is lower on the list than:

Ease of use! Most windows and Mac users can get along without ever seeing the command line, don't know compiling from compressing.

Second is consistency (which leads back to Ease of use). You want lets say... irfanview for windows? Okay there is just 1. Download, install, run. Not always true for linux software it depends on what distribution you have what you are running or not etc etc. Yes there are application delivery systems but not everything in there.

Yes everyone knows Unbutu is very easy to use and there are others as well but it doesn't fix all issues and some issues are beyond what one distribution can fix.
 

westrock2000

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Zarathustra[H];1036312707 said:
Ever heard of OpenGL?

Open source and predated DirextX by three years (1992 vs 1995). Back in the day, John Carmack even preferred it (rather emphatically so) over directX.

Microsoft - however - being one of the largest and wealthiest firms in the world had the marketing, money and coercion muscle to push their product over everything else and thus we see very few OpenGL titles anymore.
And isn't that what I said. Because Microsoft could dictate what gets used and how we finally got every thing standardized.
 

04SVT

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Zarathustra[H];1036312707 said:
Ever heard of OpenGL?

Open source and predated DirextX by three years (1992 vs 1995). Back in the day, John Carmack even preferred it (rather emphatically so) over directX.

.

And as usual Microsoft continued to improve Direct3d, so much so even Carmack started using it.

And what did OpenGL do? Sat there and did nothing. Just like most of the OSS projects. Mired down by committee, political infighting and overall just a bunch of ass hats like Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman prove to be time and time again with a bunch of words on the evil of paying for software or making money from software....


And for FUCKS SAKE, DirectX and OpenGL are NOT competitors. DirectX does many many many more things than OpenGL can. Direct3d and OpenGL are competitors and Direct3D is a portion of DirectX.
 

-Dragon-

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The problem that faced Linux for over a decade, and that it still faces today in a lesser degree, and that pretty much every open source project, is that the primary contributors are volunteers. You can't make a volunteer do something they want to do and you can't fire them for not doing what arguably needs to be done.

Programmer A gets a job at MS and they tell him "ok you're in charge of making X easier to use" he doesn't get the option to say "nah I don't mind that it's a pain to use I'm used to it I'd rather work on something that really nobody but me cares about", yet that's what happens all the time in the open source community. Yeah it's gotten better in the last few years but for the first 10+ years of its existence Linux was for geeks, by geeks.

People who LIKE having to recompile a kernel because they can tweak optimizations and weed out all the stuff they don't need, who take pride in the fact that their custom kernel is less than some arbitrary (and in the world of multi GB systems ultimately meaningless) size. People who LIKE text config files and coming up with crazy scripts to manipulate them and tweak their system to the max until it's pretty much useless to anyone but themselves. This was actually me circa 1995 when my win 3.1 system was tweaked til it had 636KB conventional memory when booted to DOS, when Win95 was still young and while a big improvement over Win3.1 still wasn't quite there yet.

These days I just want stuff to work, MS pays people to make the OS work for me. Sure it may take a Gig or two more RAM but I got 12, and it may take a few more Gigs of HD space but I got a lot there too. Linux does great in the server realm because companies there know they can sell support contracts which they can then use to hire the programmers to create and maintain stuff that they might not otherwise want to do. Sure they may have to give that code back to the community but they still effectively take more than they give so it's still worth it. Desktop users aren't going to buy support contracts, they're not going to want to pay for something that they think it supposed to be free, so nobody is going to pay programmers to make what desktop users want.
 

panfist

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If Linux is dead, and no one in here cares, then why does [H] go out of their way to post "omg Linux is dead!" articles every week?

Think about it.
 

Jutsu

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I really don't think desktop Linux is dead, it just can't compete in the market. Windows 7 is great. The iPad is pushing OS X into a wider margin and Android has come out of now where is slowly being adopted on all platforms making the piece of pie Linux has even smaller. I hope development of distros like Ubuntu and Mint keeps going because they are really great alternatives, Linux just needs to find and outlet.
 

Aaron11

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The problem with Linux OSes is that they aren't user friendly enough. People don't want to have to go through the terminal to download and install programs or have anything to do with the terminal. Why do you think Mac OSX is successful? Because it's even more user-friendly than Windows. User-friendliness is key. Ubuntu and other linux OSes will never become mainstream because of the lack of it. I know Ubuntu isn't that hard to use, but to the average mom and pop, it's way more complicated than a Mac or Windows 7 system.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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As far as I see it Linux is good for absolute beginners to computers and for advanced geeks.

Its the middle group where it fails.

The absolute beginners (or long term users that just don't care) are going to use the web browser and a few other pre-installed pieces of software regardless. Once you set it up for them, they'll be fine with linux. They'll never really try to install any other software. Most of what they need is in that browser.

The advanced geeks don't mind tweaking text config files (and often ever prefer them over annoying GUI interfaces) and have no problem compiling software themselves if necessary.

The issue is the group in the middle.

They want to install other software, but it may not be the software that's in the repository. They also don't want to have to bother with ever seeing a command line.
 

bigdogchris

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I love the line "the fragmentation of the Linux platform". That's what I think the problem is. There's way to many distro's. If all of those talented people worked together on a single distro, and software for it, it could be so much more.
 

Putz

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it reminds me too much of a MAC, for email and browsing its great... soon as you want to do something they doesnt run on it... what use it is?

emulators or boot camp etc isnt worth the hassle and usually ends up running like crap.
 

bloodhawke83

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not sure how Linux is dead when we're selling thousands of Red Hat subscription a month.
 

Ultima99

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And as usual Microsoft continued to improve Direct3d, so much so even Carmack started using it.

And what did OpenGL do? Sat there and did nothing. Just like most of the OSS projects. Mired down by committee, political infighting and overall just a bunch of ass hats like Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman prove to be time and time again with a bunch of words on the evil of paying for software or making money from software....


And for FUCKS SAKE, DirectX and OpenGL are NOT competitors. DirectX does many many many more things than OpenGL can. Direct3d and OpenGL are competitors and Direct3D is a portion of DirectX.
Carmack had no choice.

And wow lets calm down about the DX/OGL comparison. That is the same kind of whiny minutiae crap that you here when people call Linux an OS "OMG its a kernal, not an OS!!!".

We all know what he meant, its ok, the world is stil turning.
 

cleathco

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I run Ubuntu and like it.

I think whats hurting it is:

1. A MASSIVE amount of distros. What you learn in Ubuntu may not work in Red Hat. That and all these volunteers are working on all these distros. If they were only working on two or three distros, there'd be some significant improvement in just a year.

2. Software compatibility. Yea yea, I know there's WINE, but its just not for people who are gamers. Mpst people want to pick up their game at Wal-Mart, Gamestop, whereever, take it home, and install. Assuming your game works under Linux, its STILL gonna take a lot of work to get going. No one wants to work to get something to work, they just want it to work out of the box.

3. Community infighting. For being a bunch of volunteers, they sure seem to gripe a lot. And its a bad idea to ask for help on certain forums. I had a bizarre problem where my mouse focus would lock on one window while keyboard focus would be as normal. When I asked about it, I got "lol n00b!!!' And this was in the newest Ubuntu, supposedly the easiest to use ever.
 

pothb

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I don't use linux... I'm too ingrained in windows. Kind of hard to stop using it and go to a different look. Maybe when I'm out of school or something I might play around with it, but I doubt I'll ever use it full time.

That said, I have a coworker who absolutely loves it.
 

Exavior

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For anyone using Windows XP or above, if you have problems with stability you need to fix your computer. Only times those OSs should crash is if you have faulty hardware or if you install some program / driver that takes out the entire computer. However with Vista and windows 7 even that is more unlikely to happen due to how it runs everything. If a driver crashes it should just takeout itself as the drivers are not running as part of the kernel anymore but run a layer above it. i've seen them stop a driver due to it not behaving correctly a few times without taking out the computer.

I'd even go as far as calling security a pretty minor issue now also. All OSs are going to have security holes that need to be fixed. However none of them have security holes big enough to drive a truck through any more. Now it is Java, flash and adobe reader that are your swiss cheese programs not the OS. It doesn't matter what OS you are running you need to keep it patched to be safe.

That said there is nothing wrong with Linux as long as it meets all your needs and you want to use it.
 

BladeVenom

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If Linux is dead, and no one in here cares, then why does [H] go out of their way to post "omg Linux is dead!" articles every week?

Think about it.
It does start sounding like propaganda from MS fans.

The biggest problem with Linux, is lack of marketing. Google might end up fixing that. Linux may also end up being the dominate OS is developing countries, and in countries that don't want to have to rely on MS. China is pushing Red Flag Linux.
 

04SVT

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Carmack had no choice.

And wow lets calm down about the DX/OGL comparison. That is the same kind of whiny minutiae crap that you here when people call Linux an OS "OMG its a kernal, not an OS!!!".

We all know what he meant, its ok, the world is stil turning.
Its not miutiae... jebus h cripes.

OpenGL and DirectX are NOT competitors, a SMALL portion of DirectX is.

Lemme know when OpenGL can do 50% of what DirectX does.
 

WaltC

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Zarathustra[H];1036312707 said:
Ever heard of OpenGL?

Open source and predated DirextX by three years (1992 vs 1995). Back in the day, John Carmack even preferred it (rather emphatically so) over directX.

Microsoft - however - being one of the largest and wealthiest firms in the world had the marketing, money and coercion muscle to push their product over everything else and thus we see very few OpenGL titles anymore.
OpenGL was never "open source." Rather it was merely designated "cross platform." The OpenGL API for Windows was managed by the "ARB Committee," which was a collection of industry heavyweights who were theoretically supposed to meet a few times a year and lay down the development strategies for the API. Carmack sat on the ARB, as did 3dfx, nVidia, and several other companies. The "extension" brought into the API was what set it on the direction out. Extensions to the API allowed vendors like 3dfx, nVidia, or ATi to write their own custom OpenGL extensions--which had the effect of turning the API into a smorgasbord of proprietary interests--as 3dfx's extensions were different from nVidia's were different from ATi's, etc. ad infinitum. Developers then had to either support everybody's extensions, which meant a lot of extra work, or they had to make a choice as to which set of extensions they were going to choose--which limited the complete compatibility of their games to a specific IHV. D3d, otoh, has never provisioned for, or allowed for, custom extensions of any kind--which is one of the things Carmack liked so much, because as a developer it meant that he had only to write to the API without concern for trying to support a particular IHV.

GLIDE was pretty darn popular there for awhile, too. But it was proprietary to 3dfx. The popularity of D3d has about zero to do with "coercion," however. Microsoft has devoted very large sums of R&D money into creating an API which not only is open to all hardware IHVs, unlike GLIDE, but an API for which support was bountiful in terms of developer tools and relations. Additionally, D3d is very predictable in terms of its continuing development directions as an API. OpenGL, with its grossly inefficient ARB Committee structure, simply plays catch-up to D3d these days. But as you say, at one time OpenGL was very popular. When Carmack dropped OpenGL as id's development platform in favor of D3d, he was not short on words to describe the ARB Committee's failure to agree as to where the API should go, and thus its ultimate stagnation. D3d was certainly the tortoise racing the hare, no doubt about it, but we all know who won that race and why, don't we?...;)
 

Digital Cro-Magnon

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I am a daily user of the desktop Linux OS and I prefer it to OSX or Windows mostly. That said there are a couple things that are holding it back from mainstream use, like it or not:

  • MS Office
  • Adobe Products

I know they are only two software vendors, but most people in business or creative industries use at least one from either stack every day. I know there is OpenOffice (LibreOffice) and GIMP, but they are not MS Office or Adobe, period.

In addition, multimedia (music and videos) for the popular formats (MP3, DVD,...) don't run out of the box easily like it does on Winodw or OSX, I know linux can do it, but once again it is not straight forward for the average user.

Also, software is not easy to install for the average computer user who is used to Windows or OSX. I understand there are linux software repos and they are great, but it's not the same as the download and click to install paradigm as it is with Windows or OSX.

Although, for most home users desktop linux would actually be fine, since OpenOffice and a web browser is all most home users employ today.
 

PornoSatan

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Open source and Linux would be much more popular if piracy of commercial products wasn't possible.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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In addition, multimedia (music and videos) for the popular formats (MP3, DVD,...) don't run out of the box easily like it does on Winodw or OSX, I know linux can do it, but once again it is not straight forward for the average user.
For a long time this was the case as there were legal reasons the distro's couldn't include various codecs installed by default.

Ubuntu has tried to get around this in the latest release. The 10.10 installer actually has a checkbox during install you can check if you want to install the 3rd party multimedia codecs.

Even flash support installs by default now.

Linux is developing so fast that if you skip a revision of distributions, your understanding of it can be behind the times.
 

Modred189

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I think I know why Linux still exists on the Desktop, but continues to fail:

People love the IDEA of Linux. The IDEA of an entire OS, one that is written by user, for users (theoretically like you and me), fixing the issues we have with Windows/OSX, and giving us the customizability we want.
However, while the IDEA of linux, that ultimate altruistic-socialist software product for everyone, is nice, the reality is that it's model cannot compete in the current free market system. It lacks the organization, funding and drive that a proportioner derives from something that Linux lacks:

A drive for profits.

This is why government-run projects are so much more expensive and inefficient compared to private enterprises. There's no absolute pressure to cut the chaff and push boundaries while adhering to strict and specific schedules. Without that pressure, it will ALWAYS lag behind because it has no real reason to succeed.
 

JimmiG

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I've always thought the OS is the wrong place to begin if you want to make people start using open source software.

When you switch to another OS, you have to give up everything. Before you can even consider the switch, you have to make sure there are applications for everything you want to do. Sure, there are virtual machines, Wine etc., but that's usually a bit of a hassle and doesn't always work so great - especially with performance sensitive apps like music production suites, games etc.

However, if you start with applications, then you might one day realize that you've already switched to open source Windows applications for everything you do. Then the switch to an open source OS comes naturally, as those applications are available for Linux.

Some progress have been made..I'm using open source media players, email clients, web browser, productivity suite, media encoder etc. However I still depend on closed-source applications for music production and gaming, so a switch is out of the question for me.
 

ChairmanMiau

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I would have to agree, it's dead. The Linux kernel developers spend too much time arguing about esoteric technical and legal issues and not enough time solving problems to make a modern OS.
As a kernel developer, I disagree. What problems? What aspects of the kernel do you want improved? Are you sure your dissatisfaction is down to the kernel?

As for arguing about esoteric technical issues, kernel development is both esoteric and technical. However, I don't see any arguing occurring usually.
even Carmack started using it.
Yes, but only on the Xbox 360, on which there is no choice. Why would he reject a whole platform?
And what did OpenGL do? Sat there and did nothing.
lol no.
political infighting
I guess you're talking about the 3.0 flop. Are you sure that wasn't the conflict of business interests between the corporations that comprise the committee?
just a bunch of ass hats like Eric Raymond and Richard Stallman prove to be time and time again with a bunch of words on the evil of paying for software or making money from software....
Except both of those "ass hats" advocate the freedom to make money from software. Eric Raymond even acknowledges over and over again that proprietary licensing would be most appropriate for a number of situations. Of course, you'd rather get angry over nothing than get your facts straight.
DirectX does many many many more things than OpenGL can. Direct3d and OpenGL are competitors and Direct3D is a portion of DirectX.
Indeed.

--

I'll tell you right here and now what's preventing Linux from being a particularly popular desktop platform:
  1. Windows is deeply entrenched
  2. Windows is deeply entrenched
  3. Windows is deeply entrenched
and that's because:
  • The majority of computer users panic for a short while when they encounter even slightly unfamiliar GUIs (unless under the influence of the Apple Reality Distortion Field). That short while is long enough to have Windows reinstalled.
  • The majority of computer users don't know how to install an OS
  • Prebuilt manufacturers are generally reluctant to sell home/office machines -- which constitute most machines in existence -- with a Linux distro preinstalled, for various reasons
Those are the barriers to entry, and they're all tangentially related. If companies such as Canonical would overcome the last barrier by successfully encouraging a large number of prebuilt manufacturers to sell desktop machines with Linux installed (no, Dell alone is not enough) and advertise them well, then the jigsaw pieces would soon fall into place for a thriving desktop platform.
(There was also the problem of hardware manufacturers not supplying drivers for Linux, but that's almost a non-issue now.)

If Linux is dead, and no one in here cares, then why does [H] go out of their way to post "omg Linux is dead!" articles every week?
Yup.
 

phide

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Ain't dead 'til the fat lady sings, boys. And the fat lady ain't singing.
 

WaltC

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The things about Linux that are so enigmatic are the myths surrounding it. Like, for instance:

1) It's free. No it's not--whether you had to pay for your distribution or not isn't relevant--somebody is paying the developers who wrote the Linux distro you are using. It isn't the desktop user that keeps a version of Linux in business, it's the business user who downloads the software and pays for the maintenance subscription, and the individual companies who may be investing in a given Linux distributor. In short, the people who develop the Linux distros are paid employees, not people working full time for nothing...;)

2) Linux means free software all around. The belief in this myth has done more to hurt Linux deployment than anything else, in my view. Very few developers are going to be interested in supporting any version of desktop Linux with free software. A few, certainly, will write various amateurish public domain programs--but this is true for any platform, including Windows, OS X, any. The Amiga had a rich library of public domain software as I recall.

In fact, I would say that there aren't any distros of Linux available today that have as much public domain software available as Windows. But you never hear about that because Windows attracts so many professional programmers who make very good software for the OS because they can charge for it, get paid for it, and be able to keep the lights on and eat at the same time.

Linux distros need developers desperately. But so long as the prevailing consumer attitude about Linux is "Free Software Forever!" that is simply just not going to happen.

3) "Open Source" is better because it means legions of programmers working for free. Well, if that was the case then I think desktop Linux would be doing much better, don't you? We covered the "free" part already, but in fact, open source isn't any better at all than commercially developed software, and may in fact at times be demonstrably worse.

Firefox is an open source browser, but the Mozilla Corp which pays the programmers who finalize the Mozilla code for distribution is a 100% for-profit, privately held corporation that makes its money from the advertising streams that their browser initiates and from the investments of other companies. The thing that gripes me a little about lots of "open Source" initiatives is how willing and eager they often are to hide and obscure their sources of financing.

I think Linux for the corporate world where companies are willing to pay out of the yin-yang for support and subscriptions is doing great! In fact, IBM's chief software business today is charging premium prices for its own premium Linux distros and applications software, and has been doing this successfully for a long time. Corporate Linux is thriving.

But desktop Linux, where the rallying cry and mantra has always been, "It's free!" is not only dead--but a real question as to whether it has ever been "alive" is certainly indicated.
 
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