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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Linux.....Ambushed by Victory

What many would consider a "fluff piece" inspired an entire thread on the forums.

Whether it contains fluff or substance, you can decide.  What I found enlightening were the various comments.

One poster even suggested that since we have all collectively "failed" at making Linux THE desktop environment, we should take appropriate actions.

"Maybe I should just settle down in a nice warm bath and get the razor out since apparently I'm a total failure based on this guys logic."

Ya gotta love the Roman Solution.

But srsly folks.....

Desktop Linux as it was, as it is and as it ever will be, never had a chance at unseating Windows as a DE replacement.  You know, maybe an unfortunate stumble out of the starting gate could have been recovered from.  Unfortunately, someone deemed it necessary to weld our gate shut before the starting bell sounded. 

There were simply too many market forces and social/professional influences working against it.

And those same forces continue to do so. 

Some here would argue that Linux is its own worst enemy when placed in the public least when presented by its current users.  While the Windows environment would represent the fine, civilized Kansas City, with its boardwalks, ladies in full skirt regalia and parasols, Linux represents the best and the worst of the old west....Tombstone in its glory days.  Muddy streets, bar brawls, gunfights and lowlife ruffians harassing the occasional good citizen with abandon.

Chaos nicely contained within a Kernel.

But oh, how those same market forces can scramble the best business plans and 401K's.  When Google finally gets around to unifying the Android and Desktop environments, the change will make chaos look like a good option.  The horizon will be filled with the sight of Golden Parachutes as they leap to safety from their gilded penthouse offices and suites.  If Google does it right, the introduction of an Android Desktop Operating System will cement Google Docs and Calendar into the lead application over MS Office and Outlook.

The single-most-stated "objection" I get when migrating someone to Linux.

And I'm not fully sure if this will even happen....a quick, impromptu glance into my crystal ball showed me the possibility this morning and I see it as an exciting time for Linux.

We didn't beat them the way we planned.....hell, the majority of us didn't see this coming.  I sure didn't...not at this level.  Android phones?  700 unique activations a day?  Sheesh.

The next logical step would be to integrate the phone to the computer in a unified environment.  Nothing else would seem to make much sense.

Just like Linux back-dooring its way onto the Desktop.

All-Righty Then...


Anonymous said...

Hi, I feel compelled to leave a message to this post.
I have used Windows for nearly 20 years and continue to do so in my workplace.
Only in the past few years I finally decided to replace all the pirated installations I had at home with Linux (currently in the form of Ununtu 10.04).
I feel compelled to comment because, I think that while there is a large number of reasons that are preventing Linux to make it beyond that 1% of user base (some of which mentioned above), I think that there are still some fundamental, basic "issues" (or perceived issues, maybe) that totally kill the Linux experience.
It suffices to browse some Linux blogs to see a plethora of posts related to "how install Firefox 10 on Ubuntu", or how to upgrade to Libre Office 3.5 (just to name two of the latest.
Have you ever seen a blog on how to upgrade to Firefox 10 on a Windows platform? No, and you never will. Everybody knows how to do it and it is bloody simple: download the .exe and install it, or go to about-firefox and let it do its job. On Chrome it is even easier.
Personally I feel that it is already "painful" enough to take care of this fast-release cycles on software that is used everyday, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand why nobody has figured out a way to make these updates "silent" in Linux.
I personally love the way Linux handles the updates (compared to Windows): it should just go one step further.
This seems a small problem, and maybe it is, but my personal experience is that just about everything I want/like is in Linux, but the installation of new software (that is not in the software center) and the updates are two things that are really bothersome and (almost) kill the whole Linux experience.
My 2 cents.

kozmcrae said...

@ Anonymous 1

Oh boy, trouble ahead.

高い平野のサンパー said...

I hate to say this, but this type article by "Anonymous" sounds very much like a familiar nymshifting anti-Linux pro-Microsoft wintroll from comp.os.linux.advocacy. (See )

I have been using Linux since the late 1990's, from SuSE 5.3, 6.4, 7, Corel Linux, RedHat 6.0, 6.1, 7, Debian various distros, Fedora, and am currently on Ubuntu from 2007 on.

One has the freedom to choose the distro of personal choice. I was using the latest Ubuntu, which keeps up with the latest proven applications. Lack the preference for the latest in UI tastes, I downscoped to Ubuntu 10.04 LTS. However, it did have have the latest FireFox, so I added the appropriate repository and then had it.

Why do I use Linux? For one, I have a readily usable desktop in less than a minute, from boot up to login. Same systems under dual boot Windows XP (Acer Aspire-One, home brew gaming AMD for example) take around 5 to 7 minutes for the disk to stop grinding before I have a usable desktop. Yes, I can log in after about 2 minutes, but I wait another 5 before the disk grinding and sluggish response stops.

With Linux, I don't need an anti-virus program (cost $60 US nominal annually) to have a secure desktop system. Then when Windows virus updates are downloaded, takes another 5 or so minutes before the disk stops grinding. A coworker a couple days ago shared with me that his home Windows laptop was virally infected and paid BestBuy's computer shop clean the infection. You can't tell me that it doesn't require expertise to clean an infected Windows system. I have not had this happen to any of my Linux systems.

Similar to XP my Windows 7 partition on my Gateway ID58 laptop does a lot of initial disk grinding, plus I don't like Redmond's "You do it our way" attitude by overriding my preferences to download updates and let me choose when to install them. If I hit the shutdown sequence, it tells me to wait until all updates are installed. With Linux, it does exactly how I have set it up (notify me of updates, but let me choose when to download and when to install.)

Back to Anonymous, one just gotta love these sweeping generalizations of problems. Why is it then the some Windows shops, particularly some government offices have retained Microsoft Windows Explorer 8, when later versions are available? Or stuck with Office 2007 when there are later versions?

There are particular reasons for each IT shop and management to maintain certain legacy versions. This is okay, but now Linux has yadda yadda problems, where is this coming from?

I think that the U.S. Department of Justice's Comes (Iowa) versus Microsoft Lawsuit, Plaintiff Exhibit 3096 may have the answer:

Microsoft Evangelism Plaintiff Exhibit 3096: "Our mission is to establish Microsoft's platforms as the de facto standards throughout the computer industry.... Working behind the scenes to orchestrate "independent" praise of our technology, and damnation of the enemy's, is a key evangelism function during the Slog."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I did not make myself clear.
I am a Linux user and, in general, I love it. This does not prevent me, however, to criticize it. I did not sign any Eula after all :)
And yes, Linux is not Windows and comparing it it is not always right, but commenting on a blog post about why Linux hasn't made it in the spotlight in the desktop environment (where Windows is king) didn't seem that far fetched.
I can't quite understand the comments like. "Back to Anonymous, one just gotta love these sweeping generalizations of problems". What generalization? I indicated a very specific problem which is the installation of SW. And no, it is not impossible, nor difficult and I am sure that the method has advantages: it is just annoying.
One example: earlier this week I read an article about Tribler, an innovative bittorrent client. SO I thought I'd give it a try. I go in Ubuntu and look it in the SW center: to my surprise, it was there. Cool: click on install. Wait. Wait. The progress bar moves every now an d then. Inconsistently. Finally, after 3~4 minutes I get an error message. Install failed: try again later. WTF. I try again later. And again later. I am sure that had I tried using apt-get I would have gotten some error message that, maybe, would have given me some clues of what was failing. But then I opened Virtualbox, downloaded a 2.2Mb .exe and installed it. In 1 minute I was up an running.
Of course, I won't be using it from Windows' Virtualbox, but, again, this is exactly the average installation experience for someone like me, which is not "proficient" in Linux. Will I quit linux because of this? Of course not. Will I think any less of Linux, FOSS, or any "more" of Windows? Of course not. But when you see that the very basic tasks like app install are simply not as smooth as -frankly- they should be, you, or at least I, get a hint.

Then I read these patronizing comments about people using 5 different distros, and how I don't need antivirus in Linux, and how it doesn't pretend to know better than me what it is right for me. I agree to all of the above (and I did try many distros myself), but this has absolutely nothing to do with the ease (or lack thereof) of app install.

The first step to fix a problem is acknowledging it. The sooner we start, the better.

Unknown said...

Let me see. Linux is at about 10% market share, even though Microsoft did it's very best to block adoption of competing operating systems. That is hardly a failure.

It is a good indication of how highly Microsoft is regarded by general public.


Anonymous said...

Guys, I think you are mostly missing the point that Walter has made -

Over 90% of the windows Desktop Environment install base are non techies.

For them quality of experience is king. If they run into the same type of problems with s/w install outlined by Walter on Windows they just ask for their money back and buy something better. It is simplistic to expect that this behaviour is any different for people who may be open to using Linux DE.

For Linux to grow as a DE option it has to address the non techie QoE and while it has made strides in this, it is fragmented and still fraught with disappointment from the non techies experience.

My daughter uses linux and her tech support (i.e. me) gets 2-3 calls a week dealing with various sw install and upgrade issues. My wife uses windows, same tech support ~2-3 calls every couple of months mostly related to lost emails or files. My son uses OSX, support calls = zero in two years.

We've already captured that part of the market that 'want to use' linux. Now we have to tackle the portion that see ease of use as the defining factor in QoE. Until we do this in a simple standard way we will never get above the 1% mark. This is the real challenge to our community.

Small correction: Linux install base is ~10% but the Linux DE install base is <1%


on4aa said...

@Anonymous: You should give a try at a distro with a rolling release cycle. By doing so, updates will not be limited to mere security updates and you will receive recent software versions much quicker. I am currently using PCLinuxOS (LXDE) and I am very happy with that solution.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion regarding PCLinux OS. I did give it a try about 3 years ago and much preferred Mint over it.
Which won't mean I won't give it a try again, but I am trying to cut down on the experimenting and actually have a stable setup to "just" use the PC.
Thanks for the tip though.

Unknown said...


Direct install base varies from country to country. Some countries are very heavily invested in Linux. Some aren't. It depends on whether the Government is Corporatist or not.

Microsoft bribes make a huge difference as to what you can buy in the stores. Me, I have a local shop that happily sells me bare hardware, which I install my own OS on. But I'm a geek, and can do that. Joe Average can't, and until Microsoft's ability to bribe the stores and the OEMs in North America is broken, Apple and the smaller, virtually known Linux OEMS like System 76, are the only option.


高い平野のサンパー said...

Just a note to anonymous Walter:

You said you used Ubuntu 10.04 (LTS). Tribler is not in any of the repositories. Last support for Ubuntu through separate repository was Apr 2010 for Karmic.

Here is support for Ubuntu 11.04:

There are dependencies that must be resolved for Tribler to work, some related to Python libraries, but these are not the fault of Linux nor are they the fault of Ubuntu.

There is help out there and there are successful installations. Again, this is not the fault of Ubuntu.

IMHO, this is just more evangelistic FUD:

In the Mopping Up phase, Evangelism's goal is to put the final nail into the competing technology's coffin, and bury it in the burning depths of the earth. Ideally, use of the competing technology
becomes associated with mental deficiency, as in, "he believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and OS/2."

Just keep rubbing it in, via the press, analysts, newsgroups, whatever. make the complete failure of the competition's technology part of the mythology of the computer industry.

PDF page 55
Microsoft Evangelism
Comes vs. Microsoft court case

Anonymous said...

Dear unpronunciable Japanese non-anonymous, Ubuntu supports such feature as OS upgrade without fresh install. So from 10.04 I went to 10.10 and I am currently using 11.04 (as the upgrade to 11.10, for some reason does not work).
Thanks for calling my exact and specific description of a problem, first a "sweeping generalization" then FUD.
I disagree with you, this much is clear: I think that version upgrade should be streamlined, both for security and performance reasons. Even more so that more companies are embracing Google's fast pace release cycle (which, personally, I don't particularly like, but that's a different matter).
With this, I leave you to you shady complot theories.
Your dearest,