5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

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5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby AK Dave on Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:56 pm

http://blogs.computerworld.com/14911/fi ... n_the_foot

The guy writes like he is supremely jealous of Microsoft, not appreciative at all of the OS that he uses himself on a daily basis. Poseur! :mrgreen:

His “five ways” are really just one problem, but I’ll split it out into three for heck of it.

1) Lack of Linux vendor support
2) Lack of Linux advertising and marketing

This is the exact same “problem”. Linux, as a desktop OS, has no single company promoting it or selling it. It’s a freebie. The vendors who do sell linux or sell commercial support for linux don’t sell it or market it at the desktop. They market it at the server farm and the IT back office. There is no budget for advertising a desktop linux because there is no company actively pursuing selling a desktop linux. For the vast majority of computer owners, an operating system is something that comes bundled with their hardware and if it isn’t bundled then it doesn’t exist. Apple competes with Microsoft, but Microsoft competes by proxy through hardware partners. Microsoft prices the actual install media for their new OS versions at a price point where the average consumer isn’t going to drop $300 for a new copy of Windows to put on an old computer when a new computer can be had, with a new copy of Windows included, for as little as $300. Microsoft’s pricing, therefore, subsidizes their hardware partners (the hardware vendors who get great price breaks from Microsoft because they commit to buying Windows licenses in 100,000 unit chunks).

The complaint here is therefore misdirected, and should be a complaint of lack of support from HARDWARE vendors.

Linux, therefore, struggles with the commitment to the desktop because vendors of desktop hardware are not committed to support linux. Which leads to the “second” problem…

3) Too much bad techie attitude
Support for linux is decentralized: it is built on the keyboards of an army of tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of “volunteers”. But “volunteer” isn’t the right word for many of the people who actually develop the internal code of linux. A great chunk of coding development (in some sectors, like kernel, it is close to 100%) for linux is performed as the labor of paid professionals, professionals who are on the payroll of thousands of different (and often competing) companies around the world. These companies use linux in-house, and either in lieu of or in addition to paying an outside vendor for support they keep someone (or more than one someone) on payroll with a full-time or part-time duty of coding linux support for something that the company needs or wants or maybe just a pet project of the employee. Sometimes that professional’s time is paid to support an application developed by someone else, but the company benefits due to having a direct line pipe to a highly placed developer of a package that the company considers “critical”. This is how a lot of coding to support specific pieces of hardware gets done, and there is no central corporate office directing this army of programmers: they do that amongst themselves on their own. These programmers are therefore beholden to only two things: their volunteer work ethic, and their employer.

Then there is the army of true blue volunteers, the unpaid masses who support linux as a hobby, some of them programmers and most of them “end users” who fill the ranks of chat rooms, web forums, blogs, and IRC, offering support on their own to anyone who will listen. None of these people are paid to provide customer support, and few of them are trained to provide any level of customer support for anything at all. The fact that there are no “customers” of the linux desktop, as a product, makes the whole concept of providing “customer support” rather moot, but that doesn’t keep people from complaining that they don’t get the “support” they think they deserve. These are all reasonably smart people who have puzzled out the quirks of linux on their own, and people wonder why they all act like they have Aspergers?

4) Too much infighting
5) Not enough developer co-operation
Linux is not one single project. It is the intersection of tens of thousands of independent and sometimes cross-purposed projects each with separate goals, timetables, motivations, and agendas. It IS a group of rational people working together, but these rational people don’t always agree on what to do and instead of spending more time debating ideology the most productive of them just produce more code for whatever project they’re already working on. But it all goes back to the first “complaint” about linux: lack of commercial support. Because there is no one flagship company pushing desktop linux to the world, there is no investment in commercial advertising or any armada of customer support professionals or any single guiding force directing the progress of code development, and therefore little incentive for great steps of cooperation between developers. Its not that there is a lot of outright bad blood or vindictiveness, but just consider Qt versus GTK toolkits. They’re redundant! But will one of them just go away and fold its features into the other? Asking that question on the wrong forum is begging for a flamewar, or a permanent ban. And its not just because some volunteer code monkeys like one, or the other, but because some of those companies that pay for development and a vested corporate interest in one, or the other, have pumped money to support their preferred toolkit (*cough*Nokia*cough*). But it doesn’t stop with GTK-vs-Qt (ignoring Mono), or KDE-vs-Gnome (ignoring Enlightenment, Xfce, Fluxbox, Lxde, etc). Even the companies that pay their own staff to code professional software for linux to compete directly against Microsoft invest more time, more effort, and produce better code for the Windows version of their product than the linux version! Mozilla, I’m looking at you: Windows Firefox runs better in Wine on Linux than does native Linux Firefox on Linux!

Not only does linux lack developer co-operation, we can’t even agree to stand with any of the magnet personalities who have tried to rally support for linux. Stallman is usually quoted only to mock him; Shuttleworth is alternatively either an inspiring visionary leader or an idiot savant on a personal soapbox depending on who you chat with on IRC. Nothing at all like the messianic reverence accorded to Steve Jobs by his turtlenecked proselytizing missionaries of Macintosh. Maybe Shuttleworth needs to adopt a kitchy wardrobe that we can emulate, because I’m not going to grow a Stallman-esque wookie-beard.
Last edited by AK Dave on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby DrHu on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:14 pm

I don't just write about the Linux desktop; I use it every day....
I do this because they work well and they're as safe as a desktop operating system can get. So why aren't more people using them?
Microsoft is the biggest reason.

because they work well and they're as safe as a desktop operating system can get
I think he is generally correct in that first preface
--it could be argued, it is the same reason that Apple, apart from their own corporate wisdom, that does not expand OS-X , and Apple MAC product platforms further into corporations.

There is one more I can think of
Linux doesn't offer any business offsets
When a company plans for it or falls into making a purchase decision; if they buy a commercial project/application or hardware then they are able to offset via the business process a tax benefit, which is the normal style
--now it might be that free is truly better than non-free as far as costing goes, and despite Microsoft denigration of that that idea with their various Get the facts campaign(s))
--but business, in general being conservative, does not have the imagination to decide for themselves what to do; OK a few do, but not many
Much more recently, Microsoft, caught by surprise by the rise of Linux-powered netbooks, brought XP Home back from the dead and offered it to OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) for next to nothing to stem Linux's rise on low-end netbooks.

He is incorrect, maybe - we can never be completely sure, if we are not insiders
--however it is more likely that the drag of Vista required Microsoft to keep its options open, and maintain XP services
--yes they were surprised like everyone was that netbooks advanced so quickly into the marketplace, just like the Apple IPhone did, and probably couldn't get Vista to run well enough to be viable on that platform, but a light version of XP could work, and now, of course some netbook vendors including the original one do provide either winXp or Linux, (Acer eepc)

In that way Microsoft shows their avariciousness for market and market share
--and they do still have that unfair monopoly advantage

3) Too much bad techie attitude

I think he is wrong about this one

Bad attitude or the perception of such is rife throughout the computer industry, either the consumer end (PC ) or the business end servers and enterprise software; of course they pay through the nose for a better attitude (read as better service)

On the consumer's end, their is no shortage of
I don't just write about the Linux desktop; I use it every day....
I do this because they work well and they're as safe as a desktop operating system can get. So why aren't more people using them?
Microsoft is the biggest reason.
Stories, and sometimes seemingly stupid consumers who do not RTTM, or seek any self-help, as a first step or as part of an ongoing troubleshooting sequence
--and computers aren't any more complicated than cars or various other consumer gadgets

He expresses himself in hyperbole, and maybe overextends the argument a bit, but he is also realistically denoting the issue of Linux vis-a-vis Microsoft

And he is essentially right about that, that there is no reason to discount Linux, except for the reason of Microsoft powers to manipulate the systems that exist

You, yourself have indicated how hardware vendors and indeed others are contributing to this hegemony.
-- probably the biggest reason being those OEM constraints, as well as public apathies; they don't have any more imagination than people in companies who get along to go along, but I have some faith in the public, they are not as beholden to private interests as those other people, busy as bees in their enclaves.
Last edited by DrHu on Mon Nov 02, 2009 10:57 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby AK Dave on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:44 pm

DrHu wrote:He expresses himself in hyperbole, and maybe overextends the argument a bit, but he is also realistically denoting the issue of Linux vis-a-vis Microsoft


Agreed, and I essentially agree with him on most of his points except for two little nigglers:
1. I think he is mis-directing his complaint, pointing blame in the wrong direction (blaming "linux" for its "shortcomings"); and,
2. There is essentially one root cause for his entire "list" of "five problems".
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby DrHu on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:51 pm

AK Dave wrote:1. I think he is mis-directing his complaint, pointing blame in the wrong direction (blaming "linux" for its "shortcomings"); and,

Yes, I buy that

It is not essentially a Linux problem, it is more of what exists already, and what, if anything could be done about it. The EU made some strides, but have mostly backed down (it seems), Open Office presented the ODF, and Microsoft ignored it to create their own version docx

A complaint against Linux, often given by new users is that that there are too many distributions, and a corollary How to pick the right one
--that is really a vacuous complaint; for if they don't see that they have their own choice, why are they attempting to make one, or maybe they just like to rant/complain every so often to express themselves
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby adrianx on Fri Oct 16, 2009 4:01 pm

I think that Linux should be taught to little children at school. That will ensure that Linux becomes second nature (like Windows)... the rest will follow.

Why do some people believe that, because Linux is not mainstream, children will be at a disadvantage when using it instead? I thought that Windows programs were supposed to be user-friendly and easy to learn. :?: Windows desktops have similar components to Linux ones, don't they?

Also, browsers have become so important that the underlying OS is almost irrelevant.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby Colonel Schell on Thu Oct 29, 2009 4:21 pm

Forgive me for going off on a tangent, but I'm lost in the math. OP (AK Dave) says the blogger's five ways are really one, and, then says he'll split it out into three parts. So, next I see two points covered at once, and then the third one pops up. Fine, until I come upon points four and five. :shock: This isn't the first time I've questioned my sanity; no, far from it. But, is that what he really says? "Five is really one but can become three but is five after all" ?

Maybe I'm just tired from work today, I don't know.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby AK Dave on Fri Oct 30, 2009 2:11 pm

The blogger wants to hack on linux for his laundry list of perceived failings, but it all rolls back to one root problem for everything on his list:
lack of vendor support for "desktop linux"

There is no single company out there actually championing, promoting, pushing, advertising, selling, a desktop linux.

Everything else spills out from there. His whole laundry list of perceived failings. Everything he says is wrong, bad, or self-defeatist about "desktop linux" all comes down to the fact that there is no multi-billionaire backer. If you think about it, thats not a problem at all.

Conclusion: blogger is just whining.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby nukm on Mon Nov 02, 2009 9:16 am

AK Dave wrote:The blogger wants to hack on linux for his laundry list of perceived failings, but it all rolls back to one root problem for everything on his list:
lack of vendor support for "desktop linux"

There is no single company out there actually championing, promoting, pushing, advertising, selling, a desktop linux.

Everything else spills out from there. His whole laundry list of perceived failings. Everything he says is wrong, bad, or self-defeatist about "desktop linux" all comes down to the fact that there is no multi-billionaire backer. If you think about it, thats not a problem at all.

Conclusion: blogger is just whining.


Actually, the desktop is well covered and is "sold". It is simply that those outside the corporate arena will not pay the $80 to $300+ for the support package. RHELD is very much available for long term version stability reaching out to 10 years, if desired. Or, one can roll in the updates, as they come. Their desktop is also optimized for work - Gnome and KDE polished, modified, optimized - so that either can be chosen and one has the same visual image with either. Whoa, hold on Linuxheads.

Novell SLED is a 5 yr. offering and it is sold, advertised and "pushed". Mandriva is also pushed, advertised and sold. Turbolinux was also.

The contention that there is no entity pushing the Linux desktop is not true. There are also numerous companies selling boxes preloaded with Linux. You can get a Dell with the latest RH. Their Ubuntu is reserved for mini-boxes. RH and Novell SLED are available in HP boxes. Emperor Linux has been selling Linux laptops for years. Lenovo will load up something Linux for the business side, if requested.

"Vendor" support is a frequent lament but who is it providing increasing support to the kernel? Is Intel a vendor? IBM? AMD/ATI? etc. Someone (vendors) is bloating up the kernel. IBM certainly supported the kernel boss with financial largesse.

The server side draws the attention because the commercial entities have a fudiciary responsiblity to make a profit for stockholders.

The desktop side, in a commercial sense, is hampered largely by one thing and one thing only. I'll put it like this - how many Mint downloaders have actually "paid" by contribution for that download? How many of Linux downloaders in general have actually coughed up the cash for a desktop/laptop preloaded with Linux? Fact is, most folk buying a several thousand $ laptops or a pricey desktop will not buy Linux. When the Macs took up Darwin, air brushed it and sold it, many Linux developers bought Macs.

Now, I am speaking primarily of the situation in the US. THE EC, of course, the European guardian of things pertaining to the marketing of bits & bytes, likely has vendors selling hardware with nothing but Linux loaded. Am I correct? The EC which seeks to destroy Sun with its obviously suborned interests has a market for hardware preloaded with Linux - 95%, 90%? What is it? The EC which favors tiny Opera from Norway and demands that MS remove its browser even though Opera can be loaded into Windows, used freely and also be the default browser? What is the situation for hardware preloaded in EC boxes? (Incidentally, I have nothing against Opera and have used their premium email service for sometime.)

Most Linuxheads, for some mysterious reason, always neglect to consider the obvious fact that "markets" are not entirely controlled by the marketers, but large markets are also much influenced by the consumer. When the average klutz buys a box, the likelihood is there that they may need support. It takes an enormous amount of money to maintain a support department. The OEMs are generally responsible for supporting MS software. That is true of any OS. Support at Mint forum support - free. That is a choice is it not? Do you suppose that a corporation with its fiduciary responsibilities can rely upon iffy free support forums?

Linux is sold as support, which is the issue. Since the cheapest desktop support package (RH) is $80/annum, extended to say 5 years, the "software" thus has a cost of $400. That is a bargain since it includes unlimited support incidents with a 2-day response guarantee. (RH would have to define that). Now,that is how Linux is marketed on the desktop. The only reason there are continuing complaints about "availability" is because Linuxheads generally will not cough up the loot. Just ask Clem. Or Husse. And Mint apparently has more generous supporters than normal.

Incidentally, if someone really wanted to encourage the spread of Linux on the desktop - I mean really - the forum would never respond to questions pertaining to dual booting. I mean when you give away everything - then it's free as in beer. Who is it that actually encourages folk to avoid commercial Linux? The Community!

Now, Ubuntu bashing is quite common here of late. So U-bashers, If Canonical had to provide support for each Ubuntu release - how much money would they make? Long run? They are making zilch now. Zero plus zero equals - say it, go ahead - ZERO. How does Redhat make money on their releases? They only sell suppport. How do they make money? Is it because all IT folk are stupid and need support? They send a superior product out which requires minimal support. And, every support incident is regarded as a sales opportunity.

Now hold on, Linuxheads. Here's my verdict - Linux on the desktop sells like books detailing the intricacies of the Linux kernel. You can scream Free and Open all day, but how many have actually perused the Kernel code? Recently, a Debian developer found that a high percentage of the code in his newly assigned development area was not actually licensed properly and had been allowed into the distro contrary to the distro rules of admission.

Linux on the desktop is a non-issue. And, if there is an issue, it is that Linuxheads will not cough up the cash. Put another way - "If you build it - they still won't come". :lol:
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby DrHu on Mon Nov 02, 2009 11:05 am

nukm wrote:The contention that there is no entity pushing the Linux desktop is not true. There are also numerous companies selling boxes preloaded with Linux

Only Linux companies push Linux, other companies Dell, IBM will offer Linux, if asked or if they have a particular product line, eg IBMs' Z/OS virtual Linux, single licence (IFL), but a fairly larger purchase commitment even for enterprises: 100's of thousands to start.

Isn't Microsoft the world's largest software company or have they notched down a little
--neither Red Hat nor Novell, the two companies that have a vested (interest) interest in promoting and using Linux, able to compete financially with Microsoft; in their advertising or in their IN to the enterprise, since Microsoft clobbered Novell when NT came out using very questionable business tactics (only ethically), since they obviously worked well
--the same strategy they used with PCs, they used with servers

That first rule in business do what you know, or use what you know

nukm wrote:Incidentally, if someone really wanted to encourage the spread of Linux on the desktop - I mean really - the forum would never respond to questions pertaining to dual booting. I mean when you give away everything - then it's free as in beer. Who is it that actually encourages folk to avoid commercial Linux? The Community!

I actually agree with that

Encouraging or supporting multi-booting or enabling Samba as a default for file sharing even on Linux files, is BS
--but and I don't know if it is the majority or not; it is likely to be since old hands at Linux, will simply use Linux without the rigmarole of (any of the following question types)
    Its not like windows
    Linux is not windows
    This worked on windows, why doesn't it work on Linux
    Windows just works, Linux get a grip !!
    Samba isn't working
    How do I connect to a windows domain
    How do I do ICS on Linux, how do I connect to ICS from Linux
    How do I connect to my work with a VPN to a windows domain
    I use applicationX on windows , is there a Linux version
    --one of my favorite gotchas from a committed windows user
The questions do go on and on and on..

Now despite that, I don't think we mind offering answers, unless it is obviously a windows troll only wanting to keep prodding Linux responders with further inane questioning, without first trying what has been suggested (by the responder), or ignoring it and repeating the question..
    And if only and a want-to-be only windows user, best to send them on their way with a link to a Microsoft support site
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/ms772425.aspx
--for some spelunking
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby nukm on Mon Nov 02, 2009 4:30 pm

DrHu - Yup, dat MS is a rascal. Hardware OEMs will stuff the OS in the box that sells. Novell simply bounces off the walls. Longrun, I think their smoochy-smoochy with MS gains them nothing. They spend much time in litigation and the Judge in SCO is throwing them spitballs.

Absolutely the business rule - and RedHat is making profits.

And, yes, the forums ( particularly Mint ) are good. Helping is good. However, the notion that it's free as in beer works especially against the desktop being sold pre-installed in hardware. Why pay if it is free and the installation/config help is also free? Also, the frantic release cycles also work against the concept. Redhat "sells" a Linux that is good for up 10 years. That is, a Linux OS for the desktop that lasts the life of the hardware.

Most of my rant was directed at the claim that there is no single company out there championing, promoting, pushing, advertising, selling a desktop Linux. Actually, there are at least 3. I don't know if Turbolinux is still up or not. That would be 4. Then there is Red Flag. And, there are also companies selling Linux from the hardware side.

One can purchase RHEL 5.4 by subscription beginning at $80/annum. That includes updates on their secure (sometimes) servers and eSupport with 2 day support response, no limit on incidents.

Now, if someone is their own support center and chooses to install and configure XXX distro, gratis, and then complains that OEMs won't preload Linux - I say they wouldn't buy it anyway. It is there, not in great numbers, but few buy it. You have to decide which model you want.

Free beer makes obnoxious drunks in too many instances.

Just saying "MS be bad" won't sell Linux.

I flogged this long enough.
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby DrHu on Mon Nov 02, 2009 7:11 pm

I won't flog it anymore either, but Red Hat, Novell SLED are not the same business as a desktop user
    Red Hat supports the free Fedora
    Suse supports the free OpenSuse

That durn! MS rascal..Yup.
If they were Microsoft, that type of support wouldn't even be in question: it wouldn't happen. Microsoft is strictly in the business of the business

Financially they are minnows in comparison
Although I still like both Red Hat and Novell ( a superior (read as quality)technology company)
http://www.thevarguy.com/2009/08/31/red ... -watching/
http://www.thevarguy.com/2009/09/16/nov ... s-in-2010/

Only a business, read Enterprise server/data center business with fairly large amount of money to throw at hardware/data centers and associated costs (employees & managers) can afford to use either Microsoft products or Red Hat's products
http://www.redhat.com/promo/corebuild/
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Re: 5 Ways the Linux Desktop shoots itself in the foot

Postby AK Dave on Wed Nov 04, 2009 10:07 pm

nukm wrote:Actually, the desktop is well covered and is "sold".


Really? Where are the prime-time network TV commercials?
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