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Linux desktop adoption: Sabotaged or is Linux still not ready for the desktop February 9, 2006

Posted by rjdohnert in Software reviews.

I have read a few articles on this “trend” Steven J Vaughn-Nichols seems to think that someone will need to “buy” Linux adoption on the desktop. Others think Microsoft has sabotaged the Linux desktop market. The other ones are on SearchOpenSource.com. Jon Terpstra had written a three peice article in October of 2005. While Jan Stanford has written one today.

I disagree with all of them except on one thing. Linux is ready for the desktop. The business desktop.

Home use, its not ready and I doubt it ever will be ready. Especially when the GPL 3 becomes finalized.

Linux on the business desktop is perfect. Your users will not be able to download music from any music store, they wont be able to download shows through Google and other services so it gives them less chance to fool around and be less productive at work. If you can get it to work on your business desktops.

All three of these articles focus on Microsoft and not on the real hindrance of Linux desktop adoption, Linux itself. Perfect example, Jan Stanford’s article depicts a common problem people have with Linux.

” Linux on the laptop won’t recognize the built-in touchpad. Also, thelaptop’s Linux can’t detect wired versus battery power. Finally,there’s not a Linux driver for the PC’s built-in modem.

A PCMCIA card was used to replace the unsupported modemproblem. “Nobody expects..built-in ‘winmodems’ to work anymore,”Canfield said.

Workarounds can’t make the touchpad work with Linux, however, so an external mouse must be used.

As for the power problem, Canfield said that “Linux isinfamously lacking in drivers for USB devices.” Unlike older protocolslike RS-232, USB requires an exact driver for an exact PC model. Ofcourse, almost all drivers are only written for Windows. ”

Thats not Microsoft, that the hardware manufacturer who hasnt written Linux drivers because quite simply there hasnt been demand for it. Not Microsoft, but a shortcoming with Linux. Application problems, while some people claim Open Source apps are better sometimes they can be, sometimes they arent. I like OpenOffice and I think its a great application but there are still some things that are done in Office 2003 that arent as simple in OpenOffice or there is no equivalent in OpenOffice. Whats taught in colleges today? Windows development tools, very rarely unless you get up into your masters or unless you request it do you get all that much exposure to Linux or UNIX. So whats the problem here? People are more comfortable in a Windows environment, thats what they learn on, thats what they are accustomed to. Oh, and Jan you say that Microsoft has built too many barriers for users. Nope they havent built barriers, Linux and open source developers need to develop the ease of use, fit and finish that Microsoft does in their products and that customers have come to expect. Make a true alternative thats as functional and the sky is the limit

Now, John went on this long diatribe of Microsofts handling of OEM’s and how OEM’s coerce consumers. No John, my ex-brother in law is a regional manager for Best Buy stores. They sell Linux. They sell Linspire, they sell SUSE. From what he has told me for each store in the Durham-Wake County area in North Carolina they sell less than 10 copies of Linux products a month. CompUSA while also a reseller of Linux products also doesnt do that well. Another good friend of mine teaches IT courses and certification courses. He recently as of last year went and got certified with Red Hat and LPI certification to be able to instruct and help others get their certifications. Guess how many people have demanded it? 4 people, I was one of the 4 and successfully aquired my certification, but anyway. Let there be demand, there is no demand.

Even in demand situations, look at Dell and HP as Steven J. Vaughn-Nichols does. He claims give customers a choice and they willl choose Linux. Well guess what? They arent. HP with their Mandriva bundling in Latin America only acounts for 3 to 5 % of their sales. Which means, given a choice 95% of people stay with Windows while 5 percent go for the alternative. Windows and Mac have the applications, they have the best of breed applications, they have the ease of use and they have the hardware support. Steven Vaughn-Nichols also recently went on this whole other blvd of how Linux users want Photoshop, Adobe needs to take the Linux desktop more seriously. How are they supposed to do that? Novell has only collected 10,000 votes. Do you know how much work it will take for Adobe to port Photoshop to Linux? Its not an easy or simple task, and you want them to do it for 10,000 people? theres no profit in it. If I worked for Adobe and someone came to me with that kind of request I’d make them go in for psychological help. For a business to do anything, there has to be demand. Its called supply and demand, without demand there will not be a supply and Adobe’s CEO when asked about it recently said there wasnt significant demand for it.

Now, the next question is will the GPL v3 make any difference. Now everyone needs to be rest assured that Linux will move to the GPL v3. Linus will put up a hell of a fight, but the pressure will get to him and he will crack. If people can be pressured into confessing to murder, Linus can be pressured into moving to the GPL v3. This is how Im so certain Linux is ready for the business desktop. You cant use DRM with the GPL v3 and no content creator, music store or video store will support Linux if its licensed under the GPL v3. Now home users, who like music, video, photo and a seamless experience of style and functionality will choose either Windows Vista or Mac OS X.

The Linux desktop has more problems than what most of its propronents want to admit too and they all seem to want to point to Microsoft as the problem. Well thats the common easy out for most people. Its easier to blame someone else for your faults and mishaps than it is to admit to shortcomings.



1. Anonymous - February 9, 2006

You are an asshole. You want to know why Linux will win?

First, they laugh at you
Then, they fight you
Ultimately, YOU WIN!!!!!

Windows is a dying system. Step in the future before you are obsolete. I will personally make sure you never work in IT ever again!!!!!!

2. Anonymous - February 9, 2006

No an asshole is an anonymous person who can’t make a solid argument and tries to give Linux a blow job any chance he can get.

I say you can stay with Linux and live in your own little dream world where its actually useful as a desktop OS.

3. Anonymous - February 10, 2006

Nice to find a sensible view on the whole Microsoft/Linux debate.
Does seem time for Linux fans ( and I am one ) to stop blaming others ( well Microsoft really ) for the failings of Linux.

4. Anonymous - February 10, 2006

Well reasoned, and in my ‘umble and all that, totally correct.

Speaking as an anonymous coward, it’s the Linux nut-jobs that are Really hurting Linux, with their constant “IT’S READY FOR THE DESKTOP!” lies, not a “it’s good, but needs work and you’ll have to work at it, and expect things not to work, and don’t give it to your granny”. Oh, and the first comment on this board.

5. Snappy! - April 2, 2006

Belated but …

A few points why linux (and its variants) fail

1. Variants and multitude of flavors
2. Lack of hardware driver support

How many different distros and flavors of Linux is there out there today? More than I care or need. This is a blessing and a curse at the same time. Linux appeals to some geeks because it is so customizable. But there is a threshold that you don’t want to cross before it becomes painful. Linux succeeds in crossing that threshold. It does so by having tons and tons of flavors, distros and variants for every single occassion.

Having variants is good. It means each variant and distro is customized and optimized for a particular need. But it also means that the community is really spread thin, with many of the distros not really gaining critical mass for an OS to take off. Just do a search for linux distros, and you would most likely find many such cases of ports and variants that are half-done.

I guess its a natural-selection process where the best distro ultimately surfaces. I just hope it does.

Hardware driver support
The linux folks have improved on this tremendously over the years. To be fair, if you are using a notebook with Synaptics touchpad, there is probably a driver for it. But only if you are using one of the common, updated distro. Ubuntu and Mepis have them. I cannot vouch for others.

Their driver support flies when you use a device with a common chipset. I tried NetBSD’s HandheldPC MIPS port last year on a NEC MobilePro 790 and I was blown away when the installation autodetected the Pretec CompactFlash wifi card that uses the prism chipset. In less than a min, it autodetected and I was connected to the net, all while I was just starting my installation!

Now, the M790 is an obsolete EOL product from NEC and yet the NetBSD folks had an updated driver for it. This is one of the success stories of open source source code where code from other platforms are ported seamlessly to another.

Until linux folks (and its variants) are able to get to speed like that, widespread adoption will always be at arm’s length.

WindowsXP gained widespread adoption in part due to its wide support for hardware drivers, in particular for USB devices. The fact that usb memory thumbdrives became a hit is due to its built-in ATA drivers within WindowsXP.

Linux folks may want to learn a thing or two from them. šŸ™‚

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