Friday, September 7, 2012

Linux on the Desktop: New Opportunities

Lately we’ve been treated to (or bombarded by) a slew of articles and blog posts proclaiming the failure and/or the death of Linux on the desktop. I could describe what I really think of these articles but my language would be a bit more colorful than would be appropriate. Suffice it to say it’s all bunk as far as I am concerned.

I have written about why I believe Linux remains under 10% of the desktop market: the lack of preloaded systems available in stores and the slow uptake of Linux on the enterprise desktop. The enterprise desktop is critical if Linux is to make progress on the consumer desktop without a presence in big box stores. People use what they know and like. If they use and like Linux at work they may well want to use it at home as well.

During my recent travels I had the opportunity to talk to a manager in a cash strapped part of government. Linux has been making inroads there not only on servers but also as a thin client solution. One high point of the discussion was when he showed me a magazine article, one I had already read, about how unsuitable Linux is for the desktop. He had read several articles like that one and had bought the oft repeated conclusion that Windows is still the only option for doing real work. Once again, it’s all bunk.

I was able to seize upon the opportunity, talking about my experience with Windows to Linux migrations I had seen in companies I have worked with. I also could point to a few large corporations that had made the change and had saved millions of dollars in the process. There is a real possibility I may be able to do a demonstration project using openSUSE. If that is successful it could lead to a significantly large enterprise migration, one I would get to participate in. This particular piece of government already has largely replaced Microsoft Office with OpenOffice so that’s one piece of the migration which would be simple for them.

Of course, if this did go forward, which is by no means a certainty, it would not be unique or in any way ground breaking. I’ve dealt with any number of companies and organizations that have done it already. Linux enterprise desktop penetration is still small, but there are some very large deployments out there. I’ve seen a few that have been absolutely successful in terms of lowering costs and increasing stability and security.

As anyone who reads the news knows, the economy in the U.S. is recovering slowly and the economy in much of Europe is back in recession. As businesses, governments and organizations look at ways to survive and even thrive in what is still a difficult financial climate it is very likely that Open Source solutions will get another serious look. If adoption grows in any meaningful way, even in a relatively small way, yet more consumers will be aware that there is an alternative to Windows out there, one which may well be superior for their particular needs. Once they’ve used Linux at the office, and perhaps Android (which is just a Linux distribution after all) on their phone or tablet, the fear of trying a different OS than Windows may be gone. The explosion of tablets and smartphones that generally don’t run Windows coupled with some expansion in corporate adoption may give Linux one perhaps final opportunity to gain traction on the consumer desktop as well.


  1. It's about "apps" and usability and it's not enough to just offer a browser, an office suite, and an IM client anymore. Users want to watch movies, manage pictures, buy and listen to music, and perhaps print a page. Seamlessly with no hassles. About 5-7 years ago, even hardcore developers who mostly used the command-line got tired of installing codecs, dealing with baffling printing frameworks, and navigating the twisty OSS desktop waters like GNOME and KDE hence the surge of hackers on MacOSX. The open source desktop pitch to governments has been tried many times with little success. In the big picture, desktop licensing costs are miniscule compared to to their real expense: people.

    1. @Peter: Either you haven't used Linux on the desktop in a very long time or you are deliberately spreading FUD. Either way, your comments are completely wrong. I can, with any of the mainstream distros, watch movies, manage pictures, buy and listen to music, and print as many pages as I want. Those distros that cannot offer multimedia codecs out of the box either license the Fluendo codecs (as Fuduntu does) or offer a simple, one step install. The only major distro that doesn't is Fedora.

      Regarding Linux in government, I've been supporting it since 2000. It's there and has been growing steadily. In periods of tight budgets a large organization can save many, many thousands of dollars, if not millions, by migrating to FOSS. It is happening whether you believe it or not. In the department I referenced (but cannot name due to a confidentiality agreement) the IT Director is very much sold on FOSS solutions not only because of licensing costs (which are significant) but because superior performance allows them to keep some of their older equipment going longer.

    2. Deliberate trolling. Right out of the MS playbook.

  2. Users want to watch movies, manage pictures, buy and listen to music, and perhaps print a page. Seamlessly with no hassles. About 5-7 years ago, even hardcore developers who mostly used the command-line got tired of installing codecs, dealing with baffling printing frameworks, and navigating the twisty OSS desktop waters like GNOME and KDE hence the surge of hackers on MacOSX.

    I'm a non-technical user who hasn't had to do any of the things above (save the relatively simple DVD library thingee in Ubuntu, which isn't required in distros like Mint).

    I buy music (Google), sync it with mobile devices, print to my old Inkjet and a newer laser -- basically do everything mentioned.

    Meanwhile, I'm not dealing with anti-virus software, malware, expensive software upgrades (I don't mind paying, but I do mind paying for bloat) and an OS that slows down over time.

    I don't pretend Linux is the One True OS, but it is a potentially better choice for professionals (especially writers).

  3. Linux will go mainstream when it is taught side by side with windows in schools. It's already matured and ready to go.
    It's just a matter of getting people un-intimidated by it. And the best way is to introduce school children to it!

    1. The really sad thing about computers in schools is that the kids are not learning "computers" at all.

      They are being taught Microsoft Office.

      Drop a Linux system in with LibreOffice and Firefox, and the kids would not know the difference.

  4. @Caitlyn, Linux is my only desktop and has been for many years. I was on a FreeBSD desktop before that, also for years. I've always worked at places that have had some type of Unix desktop and pride myself on never having to use any form of Windows! Linux works for me but I've seen most of my developer friends abandon it for MacOSX. Oh they still use Linux dominantly in their work but these days it's all SSH to virtual environments, either on their system via VirtualBox or a slice in the cloud somewhere. At local developer meetings and hackfests, the Apple logo dominates the laptops that show up. I've been puzzled about it myself, especially given the cost increase and lock-in but in talking with them, I've concluded that they are willing to pay for integration, some built-in apps, and perhaps a warm fuzzy feeling about stability. As a concrete example from last month during a presentation, a Linux laptop failed to connect properly to a projector, despite many tries and hacking some config files. A presenter on Apple just plugged in and it worked. I'm not the enemy here, I'm just trying to understand the economics, the social factors, and the tipping point of why we lost so many Linux desktop users.

    1. @ Peter
      Yes, these things happen. I was on a conference in Vancouver in April and a presenter had exactly the same problem with the projector in the room. The only difference was that he used Mac laptop. Such things can happen now and then with any OS. Conclusions should not be drawn from isolated cases. Such is life - things happen no matter what you use.
      Personally I prefer Linux. I have used MacOS and Windows before that. For Linux me is more convenient and flexible system than the others. And the advantage that I can change everything I want and make it work the way I want it is the greatest. Price is not a motivation - I can pay, just not need to.

    2. Let me just introduce you to *my* experience with "THE superior OS":
      Linux simply cannot do much worse than that.

  5. @Peter

    We all have our hardware driver stories. I was installing Linux on a friends computer. I forgot to leave the printer on during the installation which was almost done. I turned it on hoping it would be recognized. Fifteen seconds later it was installed, test sheet printed.

    So your anecdotal story of Linux failure has just been nullified by my story of Linux success. I have many more if you or anyone else wants to go head-to-head.

    Have a nice day.

    1. You turned the printer on, "hoping" that it would be recognised?

      Way to go, dimwit.

      Assuming that you have a high-school education, you should be able to recognise that one piece of anecdotal evidence is never "nullified" by another piece of anecdotal evidence.

      Which isn't really important, anyhow. Distro? Version? Printer?

      Enquiring minds will bore themselves silly trying to reproduce your anecdotal evidence.

    2. Dear Loser,

      A collection of "Anecdotal Evidence" is commonly referred to as Observational Data, and is the foundation of all real science.

      No wonder you think you're a loser.

      Better luck next time.

    3. Dear Anonymous:

      A single piece of anecdotal evidence or a small set of anecdotal examples is commonly referred to as statistically insignificant in "real science".

      If you two want to throw stones at each other take it somewhere else. Further personal attack comments will simply be deleted.

    4. @Dr Loser
      Apparently you've either missed the point, or you are choosing to ignore it. Either anecdotal evidence means something, so both pieces are valuable, or it doesn't mean much, and neither piece is valuable. You can't claim that one account is very meaningful and then dismiss the other account as worthless.

  6. Yep, anecdotes don't rule, I agree. I think my point is that as users began transitioning from standard desktops -> laptops, one vendor had a better story, with integrated hardware/software that just worked and hit a sweet spot for developers, at least in more affluent parts of the world. I think Caitlyn is saying that for the next transition, to smaller mobile devices, that Linux can still win there. Not disagreeing with that and I hope it rings true.

  7. @Peter: I don't think developers have moved en masse to Apple. That may be true in your circle of acquaintances but it certainly is not the rule and is contrary to what I have seen. I do know a few developers who have moved from Apple to Linux but, once again, I don't think there has been any mass movement in that area. Apple has always had a kind of "geek chic" and people who buy into that buy apple products.

    I am NOT talking about smaller mobile devices. I am very much talking about traditional desktops and laptops. Regarding your projector story, a projector is just a different kind of monitor to the OS. As a consultant I've used any number of them and most "just work" with Linux. I agree that anecdotal stories are just that: anecdotes, and are not generally a view of a larger picture.

  8. It seems I can't go even one post or one day without having to turn on comment moderation. Since someone felt it necessary to use strong language and engage in personal attacks on one of the people who commented everyone will have to wait for me to approve their comments. Sorry, but if people can't engage in a respectful conversation even if they disagree then I have no choice.

  9. Those "Linux is dead" writeups are nothing more than click-bait and/or FUD. If Linux ever dies, on the desktop and beyond, the trolls will be silent. While they're as vocal as they are, you can bet Linux is doing just fine.
    Now, I appreciate your thoughts on this and other subjects but I really think paying attention to that FUD nonsense is a waste of time, especially on a Linux blog. Debunking these particular lies in mainstream media and such, that would make sense I guess.

    1. The point of the article wasn't just to point out or dispute FUD, but rather to share the type of opportunities I see in my work as a Linux consultant.

      Would I have preferred to write this for O'Reilly as I have in the past? Sure, but there Linux blogging is no longer active. So... I created my own media and use Facebook, Google+, Digg and the various Linux portals to draw attention to it. Hopefully that, plus search engines, will allow the right audience to see this. I don't think it ever hurts to get the truth out there through any and all media outlets.

      Will I have more articles debunking FUD and anti-Linux mythology here? Yes, I will.

  10. "Which isn't really important, anyhow. Distro? Version? Printer?"

    This is anecdotal evidence which is not supposed to matter, right? So what difference does the extra information make?

    Here, this is for your enquiring mind: PCLinuxOS, recent HP All-in-One printer (For the time, I don't remember the model.).

    It was an HP, that's why it was recognized and installed instantly. This was an installation I was doing about 3 years ago so figure the PCLinuxOS version appropriately. And you're right about anecdotal evidence. So why give it in the first place?

    My point was that if you're going the anecdotal route, we can do that too.

  11. I wouldn't consider anti-Linux discussion necessarily FUD, some of it is genuine criticisms that we need to face and fix. Is some of it FUD? Probably, but even within that FUD sometimes there is a lesson to be learned or a problem that can be fixed.

    I enjoy reading about criticisms because almost every time I find something that I can work on improving from it.

    1. @Andrew Wyatt: I consider it FUD when it is wholly inaccurate information designed to misinform and to dissuade people and/or organizations from using Linux. Peter's initial post was wholly inaccurate. I'm still trying to understand how a developer who runs Linux/BSD full time could be so misinformed about what applications are available. You're the lead developer of Fuduntu and your smallish community distro has every last thing Peter claims is missing right out of the virtual box.

      Please note that I did not ascribe motive to Peter. I did say that he was badly misinformed and I believe that is an accurate statement.

      If you're referencing my response to istok, let me just say there is valid criticism and there is pure, unadulterated FUD written either from ignorance or from a deliberate desire to mislead. I have written articles to debunk such material for years now and I see no reason why I shouldn't continue to do so.

    2. I'm a used-books dealer, not a 'leet coder, and I have no idea what "Peter" is talking about, when he so slyly implies Linux users can't (quote) "watch movies, manage pictures, buy and listen to music, and perhaps print a page. Seamlessly with no hassles."

      The only real issues are generally things beyond Linux developers' control -- Netflix, TurboTax, and the like. (and iTunes, of course -- but "ordinary" users have started to appreciate the problems associated with DRM). There are alternatives to iTunes, and Netflix. When Netflix decides they are willing to accept me as a customer, I will probably use their service, but I doubt I will ever sign up for iTunes (certainly not if it means I have to install their software).

      The little "issues" with various printers, projectors, etc, happen with every OS. As the saying goes, "every OS sucks", one way or another. But as a non-techie user who has preferred Linux for over a decade, I will assert that the supposed flaws of Linux for "ordinary" users are mostly imaginary.

      For example, my 12 year old HP Desk-jet has worked flawlessly with every distro I've tried in that time (as has every Postscript or PCL compatible printer I've ever tried). It's been at least 8 years since I've had an issue with online banking or my public library being confused about what constitutes a "secure" "up-to-date" browser or operating system. "Suspend" or "hibernate" not working properly is (too frequently) an issue -- but I get enough questions/complaints from my Windows-using acquaintances to know this is hardly a Linux-specific problem.

      It's hardly like Windows -- or even OS X -- are trouble-free.

      It's the double standard that makes the difference between "criticism" and "FUD" (aside from some outright lying).

  12. Oh, I didn't answer your question. I was referring to your reply to istok. I think Peter's concerns were worth listening too, but he may not have understood how much things have progressed. I don't know that it was intentional FUD, but it could have been.

  13. Thanks for publishing this - as a long time Linux user who is occasionally stuck using windoze (legacy employer requirements) or mac (it's how I run tax cut) I appreciate this. I've always striven to find the OS that causes me the least grief and allows me to handle my workflow efficiently. My kids all grew up knowing how to use mac, linux and pee cee, and that has served them well.

    Anyway, keep up the good work -

  14. As a long-time user of GNU/Linux, since 1992 and the days of 20+ 1.44MB floppy diskettes for SLS Linux, I find that my productivity increases exponentially when working with a GNU/Linux system either on CLI servers or GUI desktop environments as compared to Microsoft Windows. While I am very technically adept, I decided in 2001 to only use GNU/Linux distributions on the desktop side which are suitable for regular non-technical folks to gauge ease of use. Compared to my experience in 1992 there is no doubt many of the GNU/Linux distributions are easier to install, configure, and use than the operating system and applications from a company in Redmond, Washington.

    As a real-life example of the simplicity of installation, use, and hardware driver compatibility I present a short overview of my recent foray into Ubuntu Linux. I have used many distributions including Debian GNU/Linux, Slackware, OpenSuSe, Stormix, Lindows, Corel Linux, PCLinuxOS, among others. I remain distribution agnostic except on the server where it is 100% Debian GNU/Linux for the last decade. I bought a brand new notebook computer which came with Microsoft Windows 7 Home Edition (64-bit) pre-installed. I hoped GNU/Linux would work with the various components especially since the machine is 64-bits and I wanted 64-bit GNU/Linux to take advantage of the 8GB RAM. Lo and behold Ubuntu Linux was one of the few 64-bit distributions available and targeted to non-servers and typical users. On my notebook I wanted an environment suitable for productivity from a user's perspective and I would confine my technical skills to the servers running in my home office. The hardware was recognised immediately and the special function keys performed as labelled and as one would expect if running the default pre-installed Microsoft Windows 7. I re-installed Microsoft Windows 7 Home Edition but had to opt for the 32-bit version because there is no hardware virtualization support built into the CPU. Okay no big deal; the license key on the bottom of the notebook computer worked with the 32-bit operating system. In my home office I already had a 22-inch HDTV monitor so I connected the notebook computer to the HDTV monitor via HDMI and it worked flawlessly. In the sound configuration for the notebook I simply had to disable the on-board speakers in favour of the speakers built into the monitor. I wanted the notebook off the desktop surface and on the shelf I built sitting over the UPS on the floor. So, the existing USB keyboard and mouse were replaced by Bluetooth keyboard and mouse sharing a single USB Bluetooth dongle; all that entailed was a quick source code download for the driver and a couple commands before the keyboard and mouse shared a single dongle. The steps were easy enough a grandmother could likely follow them without any difficulty.

  15. The linux desktop is better than ever before, so pretty also multiple interfaces. I installed linux-mint on all my cousins pc`s, they are all windows 8 refugees so to speak. It just toked me 5min to teach all of them. The main reason people say they don't use linux is because they are afraid of change. And windows 8 changed so much they accepted linux. Linux has changed its pretty much plug in play, all linux needs is more native games.

    Looking forward to more articles-

  16. I wish many of the governments, especially the local ones really need to look hard what Linux and open source can bring them. We could save thousands of dollars by using Linux for the taxpayers. Great article and keep up the good job.

  17. Thanks for the interesting 1st post to your new blog. I'll be following this one!

    As I mentioned to you in an email I hope you got, it'd be great if you could expand on your experiences migrating enterprise desktops to Linux. I'm sure a lot of people would find that interesting and useful. I know I would as I'm in the throes of getting one of those off the ground at the moment.

  18. I really love Linux. I'm using it at home as my main desktop for many years and I would not go back.

    On my point of view, the main issue for migrating from Windows to Linux in businesses is the applications compatibility. We're exchanging a lot of documentations with our clients.
    Standard documents are (unfortunately) Word document (and no, it is not 100% compatible with OO), Ms Project, Visio... The same issue exists with VPN Clients; for example, there is a project for Nortel Contivity that we need to download with subversion and the only documentation I found are in forums. It is not acceptable for business purposes.

    For my company, it just does not worth it for now.

    On a more personal side, Linux Mint answers my needs at 95% and loving it but the remaining 5% is a pain: I have a Samsung Galaxy S2, Kies only works on Windows; I have an iPod Touch with the latest IOS, it does not synchronize on Linux; I'm a D&D fan, Wizards of the coast is using the horrible Silver Light plugin... Because of these little annoying things, I must always keep a valid Windows license in order to do what I want to do.

    What I'm trying to say is, yes Linux is a great OS and it may be viable for some companies but there are still a lot of works to do; like convincing software providers to make a Linux version of their software and continue to develop strong project that may become the standard in the industry and offering support contracts for those products.

    1. Libre Office and Open Office are not 100% compatible with Word. That's true. It's also true that newer versions of Word haven't exactly been fully compatible with older versions. In many if not most cases close is going to be close enough.

      When you mention Project and Visio, in many businesses those are not used or are used by a relatively small number of people. The FOSS alternatives are there but they only offer a subset of the functionality of the Microsoft products. Whether that subset is good enough or not really depends on how the business uses the products. In the case I mentioned those are not going to be an issue but for some business it clealry would be.

      Regarding the VPN client issue some companies (like Cisco) do have ready to go Linux clients. I haven't used the Nortel product but obviously you would take what's in subversion and create a ready to go package for your business and automate deployment. In larger enterprises I've done work for a Red Hat Satellite Server tied to a corporate repository is a good answer for that situation. When you say "not acceptable for business purposes" I don't think the source of the code being in subversion is a compelling argument simply because software rollouts generally need to be staged through a local repository in any case in order to have proper version control and enterprise software standards.

      On the personal side (which my article doesn't address) yes, if you insist on using Apple products you are going to be in proprietary lock in land forever. If you want a specific game, well... Steam will answer a lot of those concerns but it may not answer yours. That issue isn't going away.

    2. Its actually very easy to use smart phones on linux, just write down the udev rules.

    3. Modifying udev rules is simple for someone who knows how Linux device management works under the hood. It is NOT simple at all for most users and is not a real solution to syncing Apple devices. For most users Dany Veilleux is correct: if a readily available GUI app that makes syncing the devices simple is not available that is going to be a showstopper for Apple IOS users. That generally won't be an issue for Android devices which are already running Linux.

  19. I am using Linux running from a Cruzer Fit USB drive on my laptop. It's tweaked to minimize writes.

    Once people learn that they can try live CDs until they find a desktop environment they like and then focus on finding a distro that supports their hardware as is, it's easy to switch to Linux. Showing them how they can add/remove software from repositories might be the killer app. Unfortunately, many people are convinced Linux is too hard and complicated because they keep reading the FUD from people who only really know Windows.

    1. Live USB sticks are fine for demos but performance compared to a real installation to a hard drive is generally poor. Also, most home users aren't going to try various versions of Linux. They want things to "just work". For the home market the only thing that really will make Linux take off in a meaningful way are preloaded systems which are readily available in stores. It worked for netbooks and it can work on a larger scale.

      My article was largely about business/enterprise use and there your suggestion simply doesn't make sense. For a business to consider Linux you have to present a ready-to-go, ready to roll out solution that matches the use model of that business, not an a la carte menu of choices. That's where the pilot project I mention in the article will be important. If it looks meets that department's needs it will be considered. If not then I will not get a second chance.

  20. At home I unfortunately am still dual-booting Linux and Windows. Linux completely meets my needs except for gaming. Rarely is a PC game made for Linux and I have given up trying to run them on WINE - have never had success doing this. With that said, my work PC runs Windows, but I run a Linux virtual machine using VirtualBox whenever I need a application or utility that my employer doesn't supply on Windows.

    My wife and teenage children are using Linux as well and they are none the wiser - they watch movies, sync with their android devices, use office software for school projects and surf the web. They play their games on Xbox so Windows was not needed on their PCs.

    The drivers behind Linux at home were saving money, saving virus headaches and having more time between hardware upgrades. The cost for Windows OS and virus protection across 5 machines adds up quickly. Even with virus protection on Windows, I found myself needing to go to extraordinary means to remove malware that the virus protection did not prevent. Also, on Windows, it is a shame that you can never achieve stated benchmark performance while the virus protection is running.

    1. You've probably read recently about Steam coming to Linux. That, finally, may be your answer to gaming.

      Having said that, this article is about Linux in the enterprise/corporate world so your comment, while valid for home users, has little to do with what I wrote.

  21. Dear Caitlyn, excellent article that leaves us wanting more.
    I think that it is inevitable for serious GNU/Linux users to write and say good real things about Linux. It's obviously a campaign from Microsoft and Apple to discredit Linux in every field (desktop, tablets, phones, servers, whatever). On the other hand, Linux is everywhere: phones, tablets, chips inside DVD players, TVs, microwave ovens... I don't know.

    So the articles to be written must stress that: Linux is not only a good option, but most of us are already using it in more than one piece of technology, perhaps.

    Moreover, I think good real examples are to be used as eye opener to home and corporate users: many people, many companies, many governments!!!!! have already changed for Linux and are very good, thank you. Those are examples that must be put in front of the eyes of the readers, since "on the other side of the force" they are using every weapon they have 9and don't have) to prevent GNU/Linux growth.
    Thank you.

  22. I had to laugh, Caitlyn. I remember the insecurities of people reluctant to try any Linux Desktop distro. Yet they have a tablet with Android! It seems that a majority of users really don't understand PCs and how to measure pros and cons. They leave it to IT professionals. I often wondered who would professionally utilize all of MS Office or Open Office capabilities? I am glad that you are out there trying to educate some companies with valuable consulting. I feel the OS isn't as important, as long as the client is happier! By the way..... Android for PCs may change some perspectives.
    Great post!

  23. Ma'am, thank you for your post. Linux is used in so many ways about which the community doesn't know. If one "Googles," one is using Linux. Same with best animation movies. All the major physics labs use it. Linux might not receive notoriety, but it certainly is used. As for desktop use, in home or office, one only has to go to Europe or Asia to see how that's playing.

    Linux is here to stay. It doesn't really matter who it stays with. I love it, I use it, I trust it. And I'm 72 years old.

  24. Linux needs to be fully compatible on the new and exciting hardware that's coming out like the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA or the Dell XPS Duo 12. Ubuntu needs to start selling hardware to take advantage of some of the backlash we're seeing re: the dumb-downed OSes that are taking over the marketplace. These dumb-down OSes are only dumb on the client-side but exceptionally smart at tracking, advertising and making you dependent on their wares.

    If Ubuntu began to select *baseline* hardware under different categories - hybrid touch laptop/tablets, business-class, consumer-laptop and possibly a tablet-only option from one or two vendors -- and writing their Distro to ensure 100% compatibility... that would also help all the other distros that use Ubuntu as their base. The vendors would gain, the end-users wouldn't WASTE so much time trying to find the right hardware (that's usually multiple years old) and everyone could just move on.

    Instead, we're going to continue to see the same thing that has plagued Linux since its' inception.... forum questions, how-tos, my WiFi is not working, Help, hElp, heLP! Why... because these distros try to run on every single piece of hardware but often fail to run on most. You can alwways send a software update "over the air" to get new fancy effects but you can't do that with hardware. Ubuntu (as the leader) needs to get its' distro working on some of this great hardware that's coming out - NOW! Not tomorrow....

    If they opened up a kickstarter campaign or other... and asked for support to equip their main developers with BASELINE hardware, I'm sure they would receive lots of love.

    1. This is my runner up for ridiculous comment of the day. In businesses I have to make Linux work on all sorts of hardware, from the very old to the shiny and brand new. Most hardware, off the shelf, works well. Users don't need to try and find the right hardware and it certainly doesn't have to be years old. The idea that distros fail to run on most hardware is nonsense.

      The rest of your prescription is equally unlikely.

    2. I'm convinced that I've visited a some random troll's page looking for hits. My bad... I probably should have looked at your previous posts.

      "from the very old to the shiny and brand new". Does brand NEW mean the Touch Screen x86 Hybrids booting UEFI that are coming out in late-October? Are you sure about this? No tweaks, no special driver downloads, no complaints about a graphic company not supplying open source solutions to 3D?

      How about a straight-up x86 tablet? No issues here that require massive tweaking? My 17.3" HP laptop would also kindly disagree, as it required massive tweaking and Blu-ray is still a problem.

      Re: Linux BASELINE Systems: "The rest of your prescription is equally unlikely." I'll forward this statement to Google, I'm sure they'll have a good laugh. I'll also send it to Apple and Microsoft too! This statement alone was worth the effort in responding. Cheers!

    3. Troll? You know, I'm an IT consultant. I work with businesses who run and use Linux every single workday. I've only been in the industry for 32 years and have only worked with Linux since 1995. Yet, somehow, because I don't buy into your post about how awful Linux is I'm a troll worthy of your mirth. Really?

      Of course nobody can answer about systems that haven't been released yet. However, I can tell you that openSUSE 12.2 and the forthcoming Fedora 18 both have support for UEFI Secure Boot built in already and both have good touchscreen support. So, probably, the answer to your question is that yes, they will just work.

      No special driver downloads? No tweaks? Try installing Windows on bare storage on one of the new systems with no drivers and no tweaks and tell me how that works. Linux supports more hardware out of the box than Windows does by far. Sure, if you set an impossible standard that NO operating system on the planet will meet then Linux will fail. Here is an article from May that I wrote for O'Reilly on the subject: You'll undoubtedly consider that "trolling" too since it reflects the real world rather than your preconceived notions.

      So, the idea that vendors will line up to sell Ubuntu or that Ubuntu should go into the hardware business is likely? You consider my dismissing it a joke? Who is the real troll here?

  25. Sometimes I really wish a non-professional to write a post how linux is a good desktop system. Seriously linux users and it-professionals do always forget about people, who can barely tell the difference between the web browsers they are using. And that is still a majority. I've recently been experimenting on my friends, the end was that she was begging me to install windows back again. And this fact was a devastating blow to my naive dreams of linux on the desktop. It is a craggy shore for a person who does not know much about how PC works. And while the progress has been made, so far linux on the desktop is a bad idea, unless you're an idealist dreamer.
    We can speculate about how many companies use linux and how successful it is for their business, but one does forget that RHEL support cost is not that much less than of windows for example and that companies actually have admins and tech support. Linux enterprise little success has nothing to do with the desktop.
    The biggest issue is hardware drivers support, ui bugs, total unfriendliness and lack of intuitive interfaces. This is what I think of linux after using it for several years. Oh, wait, I did not use it, I was configuring, shell scripting and tickling it all the time. Sorry, there was no time left to use it actually:)

    1. This wins the award for most ridiculous comment so far. Your description of the Linux desktop and what you have to deal with (lack of intuitive interfaces) and the need to script and configure all the time is a fairy tale that Windows and Mac users love to tell. It was real perhaps in 1995, and maybe not even then. I have helped I don't know how many ordinary users, both business users as well as ordinary home users, friends and family, move to Linux on the desktop. I have had a few give up on Linux after a day or two, simply because they weren't really willing to make any change at all. Most have no problems at all once they get used to it. Within six months or so most wonder how they ever made do with Windows.

      As a consultant or a professional who do you think I work with in business? IT people only? Nonsense! I work with business people who have no IT background at all and no desire to have one. Linux is no problem for them. It isn't any harder than Windows once you're used to it and most NEVER touch the command line or configure anything.

      Oh, and you might want to compare Red Hat pricing with Microsoft's again. You're way off base there too.

      Nice try. No sale.

  26. Thanks for your interesting post. The discussion is quite interesting, too. ;-)

    I have never -ever - used winblows as a primary operating system on my home computers or the computers in my own business (of which I have many) and only once at outside work due to management stupidity at one place where I worked for a year. I have used Linux since about 1996, and OS/2 before that.

    I have been in the computer biz for over 35 years. I worked for IBM in Boca Raton in 1981 and wrote the first IBM training course for the original IBM PC.

    I am able to do everything I want with Linux except sync my iPhone, and I am thinking of going Android, but not there yet. For now I run XP (legal version that came with an old Dell laptop) in VirtualBox to do the sync.

    I am 66 and I have my 92-yo mother using Linux, which she likes much better than her previous windoze system. See my story about that here:

    I talk to many people about Linux as part of my business and on a personal level. None really like windows, they tolerate it because it is what they know. A few have enough trouble with it to try something new and I help them with that. Sometimes they go all the way with Linux and other times just go with FOSS like Firefox, Thunderbird and LibreOffice. Either way it is a start and it saves them money.

    But some people just don't want to change for whatever reason. I don't worry about it and don't say any more.

  27. As a sysadmin i use linux everyday with satisfaction, on server side.
    For the desktop there are a lots of things to do before linux become an interesting thing for the average user:
    1) redesign sound system: too many piece of software, too much complicated. alsa, oss-emulation, jack ... where is the KISS philosofy?
    2) redesgin the graphics system ( wayland? ) : same as above.
    3) redesign the mind of linux developers/"experts". If I say " i need photoshop in linux" don't answer me "why you don't use Gimp"....STOP...too much.
    4) I want to decide WHERE to install an application; if I want FIREFOX in /u/software/internet/firefox...let me do it.
    5) STOP SAYNG: "where, why U don't use the source... './configure && make && make install' " . As a sysadm I know what U mean but for the average user this is arabian language.
    6) stop make everyday a new media-stupid-player that need xine-libs, gstreamer-shits..let's have a codecs systems that work for everything.
    7) let's have a nuclear war, a battleship , a karate tournament but DECIDE what to have for a serious desktop: KDE OR GNOME.Let's leave the others zillion micro-desktop in a garbage cans, somewhere. It's enough.
    8) if i want to play a movie in a remote linux-samba-share DON'T make me crazy for access that share and DON'T COPY the entire movie in /tmp with a temporary name ...WTF...

    There are some other rules like these to follow. Obviously IMHO, but I'm not the only one with these ideas. Before comment remember I'm a linux fan , but if we want linux to have REAl SUCCES in the desktop we have to follow the average users , not to think the average user can be ( and wants to ) a linux expert.

    1. What a load of fear mongering nonsense. Let me say this again: I deal with business users, ordinary non-technical business users, each and every day. They can and do use Linux and never, ever compile their own software or go to source code or use the command line. It simply isn't necessary.

      Sorry, we are never going to have Photoshop for Linux but most businesses and individuals who migrate to the Linux desktop know that up front and are fine with GIMP. Some will use GIMP under Windows first which definitely eases the transition.

      There is no need to redesign sound or graphics, though they certainly can be improved in ANY OS and need to keep up with current techology.

      We most certainly don't have to take away choice in desktop environments or anything else for Linux to have "real success". We don't have to turn Linux into a clone of Windows which is precisely what you are demanding. That's arrant nonsense.

      What we do need, and I've said this for years, is Linux preloaded on systems in stores. That was why Linux did see a sharp uptake in users both when Linux netbooks were in stores and now again with Android devices.

    2. Ok, let's preload linux on a machine. What will happen?
      1) the user needs to browse internet, watch some movie , use an IM an do some office work: Ok, maybe he/she will use Linux until the phone/smartphone/printer/ he/she wants to use will not work; then maybe he/she will live with that or will install some winz.
      2) the user is not an average user: he needs to do audio editing/recording using external consoles, pro tools hardware or similar. Or maybe he/she works in a company adobe-addicted where people use photoshop and other tools and need to exchange jobs many times a day; or maybe he/she is just using a network where there is already a Winz Domain controller and other trickable things, not working (always) correctly with linux. What is gonna happen? he/she will install some winz.

      I really would like that what my words could be a " load of fear mongering nonsense"; but I'm not the one person in the world with the same thoughts.

      This guys ( Miguel de Icaza )knows a couple of things about the problem:

      and there are hundreds of people like him.
      Again: ok , this is my opinion and respect for yours; but if things are not going to change we 'll never see Linux as a mainstream consumer OS, if this is what we wants and what we are talking about.

    3. You assume a Smartphone won't work with Linux. The majority of Smartphones run Linux in the form on Android. Of course they work with Linux as does my Blackberry.

      Why would a Windows domain controller not work with Linux? I do Linux/Windows interoperability in the course of my work all the time. A Linux client most certainly can and does work on a Windows network.

      You trot out Miguel de Icaza, a developer who turned his back on Linux and who has been called out by everyone from Linus Torvalds on down. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, in the Linux community takes him seriously. See the discussion featuring such Linux notables as Alan Cox and, of course, Linux Torvalds at: Sure, there are people like you who agree with Mr. de Icaza but you are a very small minority.

      I hate to break this to you but Linux is already a mainstream consumer OS. Android is a Linux distribution by Google that dominates on Smartphones and tablets. When preloaded systems with Linux in the form of netbooks were available in stores they sold like the proverbial hotcakes. Despite this you tell us the Linux can never succeed where it already has. Amazing!

      Why are Windows fans like you so terrified of people telling the world about Linux? Why are you so afraid of people like me sharing our real world experience? You know the government contract I referred to in the article, the one I said may or may not go forward... Guess what? I landed that contract on Monday. Yet I still have people in the comments claiming government will never consider Linux. They are wrong... and so are you.

  28. "the fear of trying a different OS than Windows may be gone"
    But does this fear exist? (once, I asked my sister which windows (98, XP, seven) she had. She did not know she had windows (she had, anyway)...

    The difference of ergonomy between phones and tablets is huge (and the difference of ergonomy between gnome 2 and a working iexplore is not that huge) :

    once, in a internet café, I noticed a gipsy woman pasting and drawing instead of clicking (and had to explain before the landlord get mad : she "only" knew Polish, Rumanian and Rrumanes) .

    This lead to very strange behavior under Firefox (it has the same ergonomy under any OS, AFAIK) :
    she was accustomed to touch screens phones -they can be cheap- , and not to desktops/laptops -there are no internet café in the transsylvanian region she came from-.

    The choice of GNU linux instead of Window can be linked to 2 causes:
    a) A better code quality, less viruses. But internetcafés manage not to have/keep viruses (very strict policies, sometimes reinstalling every week).
    b) One cannot trust monopolistic practices (i.e a political choice ; the former was a technical one). But what about google's influence, then?