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Linux desktop usage at ~1%

By DeadBaby in News
Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:30:56 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

Recently released IDC numbers are painting a very grim image of Linux's present role as a viable desktop operating system. Why are consumers rejecting Linux? Have projects such as KDE and Gnome been a failure?

I know this is a hot button issue but last year was supposedly the break out of Linux on the desktop but the numbers simply show that didn't happen. Recently released IDC (International Data Corporation) numbers show a few trends.

1) Microsoft gained 3% of the desktop market bringing their grand total to 92%.

2) Microsoft gained 3% of the server market bringing their grand total to 41%

3) Linux gained 2% of the server market, mostly from non-Microsoft platforms.

4) Much of the past Linux growth projection numbers were based simply on the number of pressed CD's that flooded the world over the last few years. This suggests actual Linux growth is much closer to this years IDC numbers than past reports.

So why aren't consumers interested?


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Why has Linux been a failure as a desktop OS?
o It´s too immature as a desktop OS 46%
o Low distribution 4%
o Consumers are happy with Windows 33%
o Lack of advertising 14%

Votes: 109
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o numbers
o Also by DeadBaby

Display: Sort:
Linux desktop usage at ~1% | 108 comments (104 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
IDC? (3.30 / 10) (#2)
by jabber on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:25:49 PM EST

That's like having CNN and Time Magazine report that, of all customers surveyed, 100% are satisfied with their AOL service.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

I have a question too: (4.00 / 11) (#3)
by elenchos on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:27:09 PM EST

Let's say that Linux, GNOME, etc. are all "failures," and that they never enter the mainstream consumer market in a significant way, that companies like Red Hat, et. al. never make any profit.

Does it matter to you? Should it? Is the point to be a commercial success, or is the point something else, and the commercial and/or mainstream part just a sideshow and icing on the cake?


Shouldn't but it does (4.66 / 3) (#24)
by bjrubble on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:01:32 PM EST

I don't give a damn what other people use, but Microsoft has pioneered the use of customers as proxy foot soldiers for marketshare. The more people use Windows and Office, the more Word documents I receive or am asked to produce, the more IE-isms I see in web pages, the more archives in self-extracting .EXE format I see -- it's a vicious cycle.

I don't use or particularly like Macs (although OS X looks tasty) but I've started recommending them to every computing novice who asks, because I've realized that the only way the world will be safe for Linux (or FreeBSD, in my case) is if it's safe for heterogeneity in general.

[ Parent ]
it has to matter (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by alprazolam on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 04:11:22 PM EST

it doesn't have to dominate the world, but it has to have a certain degree of acceptance if there is ever going to be good hardware support. nobody's going to give a bunch of 'hacker kids' any of their time, much less specs.

[ Parent ]
Duh (3.75 / 12) (#4)
by Greyjack on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:28:04 PM EST


So why aren't consumers interested?

My Mom buys a copy of, say, family tree maker for Windows. She inserts the CD in her computer, the autorun fires up, she clicks Next> a few times, whammo, it's installed, she's done.

1) Installing new software in Linux is (comparatively) hard for Joe User.

2) You can't get Family Tree Maker for Linux.


Here is my philosophy: Everything changes (the word "everything" has just changed as the word "change" has: it now means "no change") --Ron Padgett

Hello (2.50 / 10) (#5)
by Ratnik on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:28:25 PM EST

Haven't you been paying attention to the Linux critics out there. Basically it is too damn hard for your typical consumer to use. Main reason why Windows is so popular is they make it so easy a monkey could use it. Secondly, you dont have the applications that appeal to the consumer market. When Linux can become as easy to install as Windows, then you will have a fighting chance. When you get the applications, the consumer will want, then you start taking market share away from Windows.

Does ease of use matter that much? (4.14 / 7) (#11)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:55:31 PM EST

Whether or not Linux is easier to use than Windows doesnt' really matter. (Which sold more copies, Windows 3.1 or Mac OS? Which was easier to use?) It doesn't even matter whether or not Linux is easier to install than Windows.

Two things matter:

  1. Applications.
  2. Preloads.

The apps aren't there yet, but they are getting there. Compare available Linux apps now to two years ago, to five years ago. I'd wager that this area will improve.

Preloads will be a tougher battle. Manufacturers can't afford to upset Microsoft. However, if WinXP turns into the support nightmare I think it will, PC makers might end up flocking to Linux in drove.

[ Parent ]

Yes it does. (2.60 / 5) (#22)
by Ratnik on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:59:36 PM EST

I would think a more apt comarison would be between DOS and Widows. Home computing didn't really take off, until Windows came out. The normal consumer just had to click and go, instead of going thru some cryptic commands that they didn' understand anyway.

[ Parent ]
command prompt isn't necessary to use Linux (3.33 / 3) (#32)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:31:24 PM EST

Most major retail Linux distributions offer point and click installs and run XDM (or some variant such as KDM) by default making it possible for the average user to never have to look at the command prompt. The are some ways in which usability lacks in Linux compared to Windows (plug and pray compatibility, toolkit consistancy, the X clipboard, etc.).

This is why I compared the relationship between Linux and Windows to Windows 3.1 and MacOS. MacOS had the advantage in the areas I named over Windows 3.1 (and arguably over Windows 9.x as well) and Windows 3.1 still outsold Mac OS by a hefty margin. Another similiarity the process for installing addition apps on Windows 3.1 to Linux today.

[ Parent ]

What people want... (3.25 / 4) (#26)
by gauntlet on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:13:02 PM EST

I don't think comparing Mac OS to Windows 3.1 is valid. Windows 3.1 was something you could actually buy seperately. Mac OS came with the hardware.

Granted, pre-loads eliminate the complexity of installation for the end-user. But they don't eliminate the complexity of installation for the OEM, and especially not for the VAR, who has to deal with different platforms and configurations dialy. Neither to pre-loads eliminate the difficulty involved in installing software into Linux.

Linux has some advantages that it gains as a trade-off for ease-of-use. Linux will let you do what you want. Windows lets you do what you're told. Windows is vastly more popular with end-users than Linux. The reason is people don't know what they want, and therefore, Linux is useless to them.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

comparing apples to apples (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:41:02 PM EST

I don't think comparing Mac OS to Windows 3.1 is valid. Windows 3.1 was something you could actually buy seperately. Mac OS came with the hardware.
The situations are very comparable. Even though Windows 3.1 was available as a seperate product, the vast, vast majority of Windows 3.1 installs happened at the PC manufacturer.
Granted, pre-loads eliminate the complexity of installation for the end-user. But they don't eliminate the complexity of installation for the OEM, and especially not for the VAR, who has to deal with different platforms and configurations dialy.
I would contend that installing Linux in bulk is no more complicated (and perhaps less complicated) than installing Windows in bulk. This is especially true if one wants to script custom installations according to hardware configurations.
Neither to pre-loads eliminate the difficulty involved in installing software into Linux.
Here I agree. Installing software into Linux today is very much like installing software into Windows 3.1. There are exceptions (Debian's apt-get, Ximian's Red Carpet) for specific flavors of Linux, but these are currently jst that, exceptions.
Linux has some advantages that it gains as a trade-off for ease-of-use. Linux will let you do what you want. Windows lets you do what you're told.
This isn't really a trade-off of ease of use. This is difference in design philosophy. One can conceive of a system as easy to use as Windows built ontop of Linux like functionality.
Windows is vastly more popular with end-users than Linux. The reason is people don't know what they want, and therefore, Linux is useless to them.
Exactly, most people use what comes with their computers, which is Windows. The only way for Linux to significantly penetrate the desktop is to come preloaded.

[ Parent ]
Give people a reason to switch. Duh (4.00 / 6) (#14)
by eLuddite on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:04:01 PM EST

Haven't you been paying attention to the Linux critics out there. Basically it is too damn hard for your typical consumer to use.

That's very true but it ignores one other crucial fact at the peril of developing a complacent (and unjustifiable) superiority complex: Linux is a perfectly adequate OS for pedestrian tasks but it is not competitive across the board with the likes of W2K, Solaris or even FreeBSD - none of which, you will note, are meant for "typical consumer use."

I'm sure any number of people will discount my experience with theirs but there you have it; I've tried it, judged it unworthy of my time, uninstalled it. I now spend all my time between W2K and FreeBSD.

Bottom line: Linux has nothing compelling to offer over the alternatives. If you do _not_ build a better mousetrap, the world will _not_ beat a path to your door. Why is this so hard to understand?

Give people a reason to switch. What they're using now is perfectly adequate if not superlative.

(And before everyone accuses me of not quoting specifics, please note that the article wasnt written in a way that demands specifics. If you actually think that Linux doesnt fail in specific ways, then you would do well to look within when contemplating that 1%.)

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Installed base (3.75 / 8) (#7)
by Pac on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:45:59 PM EST

I am yet to meet a CIO that will tell me she is willing to throw away years of investment in Windows software and change every desktop to Linux (and retrain everybody in the process). I am also yet to meet a CEO that wouldn't throw away the CIO that though otherwise.

Microsoft has a monopoly in the desktop OS market. If it is at all possible to break it, it will take many years, a generation maybe. Linux has also a lot of ground to cover before it can be used daily by grandmothers, eight-year olds and Peter from Accounting. In this respect, MacOS X may be closer to delivering a Unix-like OS to average (albeit smewhat wierd) users.

The server market, on the other hand, will hopefully be dominated by Linux in a couple of years, giving us some breathspace, making it hard for Microsoft to play client-server lock and giving us techies some sound reasons (mainly based upon "network standartization") to defend the migration to Linux desktops too.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

preloads and desktop market (3.75 / 8) (#8)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:48:59 PM EST

From the CNET article:
The situation was less varied in the desktop and laptop market, where Microsoft had 92 percent of the market, IDC said. Linux, by contrast, had 1 percent and Mac OS had 4 percent.
I am quite surprised that Linux even registered in desktop sales. Given that (1) the vast majority of computer users will use exclusively whatever OS ships with their PC and (2) the high percentage of Linux users that download Linux instead of purchasing it, that Linux registered at all in the desktop catagory for retail sales is pretty astounding to me.

As more and more companies preload Linux, retail sales for Linux on the desktop will increase.

From DeadBaby's commentary:

Much of the past Linux growth projection numbers were based simply on the number of pressed CD's that flooded the world over the last few years. This suggests actual Linux growth is much closer to this years IDC numbers than past reports.
Their former numbers were likely to be more accurate as the current methodology doesn't account for multiple installs off of a single cd nor downloads. While the numbers may more accurately represent retail sales, they certainly do not more accurately represent actual usage of Linux on the desktop.

IMO, the single most imporant number in the future will be appliances. I wonder if and how IDC will fit in the number of hand held computers and .mp3 players that run Linux vs. WinCE/QNX/PalmOS, etc.

Also from DeadBaby's commentary:

Have projects such as KDE and Gnome been a failure?
Using retail sales to determine whether or not KDE and Gnome have failed is ridiculous. Success or failure is determined by whether or not these projects accomplish what the authors and users need them to accomplish. Gnome works for me, so for me it is a success. Neither Gnome nor KDE works for my wife, so for her they are both failures.

The most interesting number for me is that retail sales of Linux as a server OS are growing faster than WindoesNT/2000. Linux went from having a market share 65.79 percent the size of Windows to having a marketshare 65.85 percent the size of Windows. Given the growth of Windows in the server market, this is no small feat. Though this number is not entirely accurate because it doesn't take into consideration multiple installs from one retail box or downloads.

Why would I want Linux on my desktop? (3.78 / 14) (#9)
by Mantrid on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:50:25 PM EST

Okay I know there's lots of Linux zealots out there who go on and on about why we have to use Linux and how great it is, but really I haven't seen any compelling reason to put it on my desktop. Good old Windows 98 is fine with me.

I play a lot of games so this is a factor obviously, why the hell do I want to monkey around with obscure Linux commands to get a game to work, and my dealings with Linux users to get help or support usually end with a snide didn't you read the FAQ (or whatever Linux users call them)? I mean really, I go buy a computer, it comes with 98 or ME, generally things run just fine, I can go any place and buy software, I can download shareware and freeware if I want. I generally don't want to see the OS, I don't want to deal with packages or anything else. The most I have to install for Win9x is like DirectX or something every year or so. I can use pretty much any piece of hardware I want, easily. Linux variety of GUIs and such is actually a problem; and my experience in trying to install anything is having to go and find a series of other modules that i need. Sorry that's just plain a pain in the ass for me.

Linux seems to be pretty good as a server system, and especially for networking type purposes. Why I would want to deal with the hassle of running it as my desktop OS is beyond me.

Windows doesn't even tend to crash on me these days, once and awhile a process will crash or something, but it's fairly rare that I have to reboot Windows anymore (although I tend to shut my PC down at night anyways). W2K is even better.

Sure Microsoft (yeah I know I should use the $ or something for the s, just to get that extra little smug jab in) isn't perfect, some of their licensing prices, for work in particular, are just nutty. They're a mean spirited company and push people around. But guess what, day to day, when I'm using my PC Windows works well enough that I don't really even care. Oh sure I could get all idealistic and try to make some grand statement and use only Linux and be limited to whatever apps I can find, but it's really not that important to me in the grand scheme of things.

Well I guess I'm mostly just ranting, but no one has ever convinced me that Linux is something I want on my desktop. All I've ever heard are vague rants and claims that it's better somehow, but when I ask about specific apps or options there is only silence or some excuse why Linux doesn't have an app like that or why it only has some crappy version of it. I'm really not willing to do without. Maybe I'll try Beos or something someday, but I'm content with Windows until someone can demonstrate for me why I should put Linux on my machine.

You might not want Linux on /your/ desktop (4.16 / 6) (#13)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:01:09 PM EST

But I want it on mine. Of course my idea of playing on the computer is downloading a new scripting language or dorking around with C++. Linux is more fun to me. It's more flexible. It lets me set up different stable desktops (which may not apply to Windows 2000 or Windows XP, but certainly applies to Windows 9x and ME) for different users. I can do all sorts of interesting things fairly easy on Linux that are a pain on Windows.

But that's me. I'd rather spend twenty or so hours fighting to get XFree86 to work right than shell out however many hundreds of dollars Windows 2000 costs. I doubt Windows 2000 would even run on my pitiful hardware.

You, having different computing desires, don't find the attraction to Linux I do. Nothing wrong with that.

[ Parent ]

Exactly! And the average consumer... (3.50 / 4) (#25)
by Mantrid on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:05:50 PM EST

The average consumer is going to be even less likely to want to mess around with Linux, hence Microsoft's continued dominance, especially over Linux. (I'm not sure how well Mac's are doing overall, and some people probably feel the same way about Windows when using Macs as I do about Linux being a Windows user) I guess the question is, will Linux ever be a good consumer desktop? I tend to think probably not, but who knows. Hopefully someone will come up with a good alternative, that becomes fairly widely used.

[ Parent ]
the answer lies in preloads (3.66 / 3) (#29)
by Anonymous 242 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:22:25 PM EST

If the average consumer had to install his or her current flavor of Windows, hardly anyone would think of Windows as easy to use. Linux is almost as easy to use as Windows. The largest difference in end user ease is that the average consumer gets Windows preinstalled. This is likely to start to change as computers become more and more of a commodity. A fifty dollar license for Windows as part of a $3,000 PC is bearable for a manufacturer. A fifty dollar license for Windows as part of a $300 PC much less so, especially if and when competitors don't have to pay that $50 because they preload Linux.

The biggest question is consumer apps. If and when Linux can compete with Windows on available consumer apps, manufacturers will have the incentive to switch. Until that point, Windows will continue to dominate the end-user desktop.

[ Parent ]

Elaborate, please. (4.25 / 4) (#49)
by pwhysall on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:02:53 PM EST

I guess the question is, will Linux ever be a good consumer desktop? I tend to think probably not, but who knows.

Based on what, precisely?
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
[ Parent ]

Why I think it's not ready. (none / 0) (#98)
by tzanger on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:40:38 AM EST

>>I guess the question is, will Linux ever be a good consumer desktop? I tend to think probably not, but who knows.
>Based on what, precisely?

As someone who is currently using linux on several desktops I can tell you that it is not ready for the desktop.

A lot of work I do is network related and having linux is a big bonus. tcpdump, iptraf, network userland utils... it's great. You can't get that kind of diversity and customization in Windows. Period.

However Linux suffers fragmentation: I like WindowMaker. Others like KDE. Or Gnome. Or Sawfish. Or fvwm. Or twm, owm, mwm or any of a thousand window managers. That kind of selection is great but makes it difficult for Joe Sixpack to be able to hop over next door or at the library or the internet cafe and be familliar with the system.

The total lack of office apps (I'm not counting the dozen or so attempts: kudos for giving it a try but there simply isn't anything that works as well as Office. Sorry.) makes it usless for Joe Sixpack (or anyone in an office environment) to use immediately. Personally I love vi; I write everything in either text documents or it's in some kind of weblog so everyone can get at it.

The whole software issue: I haven't found any decent family tree software. Or time tracking software like TimeSheet Professional. Or something like DreamWeaver. My in-circuit emulator software only runs on Win32. A nice site ripper like Teleport Pro. Mathcad Pro. OrCAD. Linux has a long way to go yet. I try to help where I can but I'm an embedded designer, not an application programmer.

Browsers: There is not one single browser for Linux with the capabilities, speed and ease of use as Internet Explorer 5.5. I used to be a Netscape head. I'm currently typing this in Konqueror which is nice and fast but java and jscript are still half-assed working. Ditto for an email/news client like Outlook Express. Get rid of the scripting and OE is my #1 choice for a mail and news client. Pan is pretty decent and kmail is alright, sure, but not at the same level as OE.

Fonts: Linux fonts are ugly. Not being an incredible X hacker I am probably doing something wrong but the need for some really good scalable fonts on Linux is badly needed. I'm not talking "Grab the windows/fonts directory and you're set" but I mean a real good cleanup. Anti-aliased fonts for LARGE fonts. sub-pixel anti-aliasing for us laptop users. Work is being done but it's just not there yet.

Games: I don't play games but this is a concern for some.

As stated at the start, I do run Linux on this laptop. I have both Win4Lin and VMWare to run Windows software. Win4Lin is my primary use but its networking blows huge. Otherwise it's pretty damn good. VMWare has the networking down pat and the ability to run NT/2k and other OSs very well (even on this Cel300 I can run a fullscreen 2k client without realizing it's a VM) but it lacks Win4Lin's ability to seamlessly integrate with my host filesystem and X session. (I have my Win4Lin screen size set to 960x768 so I can have my dockapps down the side and the rest of the screen for Windows on one of my virtual desktops. You can't do that with VMWare that I've found.)

I think Linux rox yer sox as a server OS but it's still "not quite there" for JOe Sixpack's (or I'd say even 95% of all users') desktop. Those are my reasons... Welcoming any kind of comments. :-)

[ Parent ]
Correlation(Lies, Statistics) =1.00 (4.36 / 11) (#10)
by jd on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:55:24 PM EST

The biggest problem with the statistics is that the numbers shown say nothing useful, or even meaningful.

Let's say that Linux enjoyed (yet another) 100% growth rate, last year. (it was about that, IIRC, according to some survey or other.)

Let's also say that Linux was on 20,000,000 desktops, by the end of last year.

That's a =LOT= of desktops, for an OS that started as a hacked-out terminal emulator.

Now, compare that, percentage-wise, with Windows, which currently sits on something like 100 times as many home PCs.

Even if not a SINGLE new PC had Windows installed on it, =AND= Linux continues on a trend of exponential growth, it'll STILL be another three years before the percentage of Microsoft's market share will drop by any perceptable margin.

When you get right down to it, world domination doesn't happen in an afternoon. It's taken Microsoft nearly 20 years to build the dominance it has. And people wonder why it has not been totally replaced in just one???

The numbers don't show us the absolute growth of Linux, or even the relative -change- in growth between Linux and Windows. (The rate of change is far more important than the actual change itself, over any long period of time.)

In short, we've a few hints that the absolute growth of Windows exceeds the absolute growth of Linux, but we already knew that. Until the majority of vendors offer both, pre-installed, that's going to be a fact of life. So that cannot be considered a useful number to have. It's the trends that count, and those aren't shown.

Linux and the ever-important consumer base (4.18 / 22) (#12)
by AmberEyes on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 01:58:41 PM EST

First off, just to clarify, I am a Windows user. I haven't touched Linux, and I have no desire too. I've seen it used, know what it's good for, and know that it's free (for the most part).

I'm still not convinced that I want to use it yet.

Articles and numbers like the above figures are a good window into understanding people like myself. I don't run servers, I don't write open source, and I certainly am not as involved into the technical aspects of computer operations and maintenance as I am sure the majority of the kuro5hin users are.

I'm just an end user who makes computer games in his spare time, jumps on the internet, checks his email, and of course, plays lots of computer games and likes his WinAmp.

For Linux to be successful as an operating system, especially when it's stacked against something like Windows, 3 things have to be realized:

  • Service and support
  • Software and stability
  • Improvements
1.) Service and support: Let's face it, it's a lot easier to get help with Windows products. Yeah, they crash a lot, can be pretty unstable, etc, but they have a lot of tech support. You can call Microsoft, check out their support sites, and so on. More importantly, the help is to the point and often simple to follow and interpret. This is one of the strengths of Windows - the majority of Linux help are text files that look to Windows users like they were written in a foreign language by mathmatics professors. I'm sure that the Linux community did not write them like this intentionally (especially since they seem to help Linux users out immensely), but regardless, to the majority of Windows users, the Linux world is a dark and scary place, full of confusing terms and non-obvious instructions.

What to a Linux user might seem obvious or normal often to a Windows user looks cryptic: what sounds easier? To access your root directory, or to click the ok button? Having a GUI helps immensely (and Linux GUIs are helping combat this), but Windows has an edge over *nx on this.

2.) Software and stability

One of my friends who uses Linux is often left out of the loop of conversations between Windows users when it comes to software and games. Being the fun loving social bunch that my friends and I are, we talk about gaming and stuff often. First off, it's difficult to find a common game or software to talk about. Face it, the game/software base for Linux is a lot smaller than Windows - this really hurts Linux as a gaming platform. Admittedly, that is the developers fault for porting games over, but with such a small consumer base (in relation to the Windows consumber base), it doesn't make that much financial sense. Thank god for companies like Loki though.

Then, when we find software that he also has, listening to his stories about installing software, trying to piece driver files together to get hardware to run, and other tasks seems very complicated to a crowd who is used to "Put CD in tray, double click setup.exe". While Linux is more stable and secure, hearing his stories makes us Windows users think he's insane for using a system like that.

Linux desparetly needs some sort of friendly looking (and, more important to end users - sounding) interface. We Windows users like point and click, we like bells and whistles, and we hate command lines. While a GUI for Linux might solve our problems, it's still easier to do it on Windows. And that brings me to my final point....

3.) Improvements

Windows users are generally lazy and stubborn. Hehe. Linux users often ask "How can they use Windows?!? It crashes, they lose their work, and then they reboot like nothing ever happened! That's crazy!". Well, now you know. We like having everything so visual, so point-and-click, so nice and wrapped up, that we forgive stuff like this. But more importantly, we are so used to it, that it doesn't bother us. This is why you have to make Improvements to Linux itself that benefit the end consumer, more than anything Windows could offer. You could make Linux match everything that Windows does, and we would still use Windows - we're that used to it. You have to give us a really good reason to change over. What do we want? I don't know. Everyone wants something different. For me, the stability of Linux is a big selling point, and, should Linux be able to do everything that Windows can, I would switch over in a heartbeat to Linux, just for that stability.

But, as I touched on before, why should I switch over if I can't play my games?

Linux seems to be in the progress of moving into the server sector, rather than the consumer sector. Of course Linux is not going to sell as well as Windows if it doesn't move into the consumer's area - consumers like to play games, point-and-click, and get instant help on their computer woes - not have to understand about recompiling their kernel, or run server software to get use out of the OS.

Also, I'm being honest here - all this is from my viewpoint (and I suspect, a few of the average Windows users' viewpoints as well). Please don't vote me down because you disagree with my opinions. Look at what I'm saying, argue if you must, but use it as constructive criticism as how to better your own product. And, being that I am a Windows user, I'm probably wrong about some stuff in my message. Please correct me or bring that to my attention with a reply, I'm curious about Linux and it's uses. It's just not for me...yet. :)


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
Well said. (2.80 / 5) (#16)
by darthaya on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:11:28 PM EST

I agree 100% on your point of view. My home desktop PC 80% of the time is nothing but a game machine for me. :) I dont do programming on it, (As if I haven't done enough at work.) and I don't mind it crashing. It is just a reboot and everything will be brought back to life in (at most) 5 minutes. I can take a short break.

[ Parent ]
I agree... (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by Refrag on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:00:01 PM EST

I just wanted to point out that the blue links on on your Webpage don't stand out from your black background very much. :)


Kuro5hin: ...and culture, from the trenches
[ Parent ]

I agree with one exception (4.33 / 3) (#36)
by error 404 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:41:48 PM EST

Have you ever personaly contacted Microsoft tech support? And received an answer other than "reboot the system", "reinstall the software", "you must have a corrupted file/registry", or "don't do that"?

I've been a help desk guy, and I've called Microsoft tech support a few times. The answers I've gotten have always been identical to the ones I used when I had no clue what was going on.

On the other hand, I have used the tech support that came with a commercial (Mandrake) install of Linux and the answers included technical information that led to my knowing what was wrong and how to fix it. That's important to me. While reinstalling the software might get me running again, I'm much happier if I know what went wrong and why.

I know it's a small sample, but in my limited experience, MS tech support is dead-chicken-waving and "you didn't hear it from me" bug reports while Linux tech support is, well, tech support.

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

*cough*, *choke*, *splutter*! (3.25 / 4) (#44)
by itsbruce on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:13:23 PM EST

Service and support: Let's face it, it's a lot easier to get help with Windows products.

From whom, precisely? Ever tried getting any kind of help out of MS? Every tried submitting a bug report to MS? I have a list of bugs that have been in MS mail clients for years and are still there. Who can I get to listen? Am I prepared to pay for a support call in the hope of getting a refund if they decide I'm right? Am I bollocks.

Things aren't much better with any of the other commercial companies that provide Windows software. Only the largest corporate customers have any chance of getting their complaints heard. You have to resign yourself to waiting for the next (far off) version, where they might have fixed the bugs if they thought it was worth the bother.

With open source software, in contrast, I can and to talk directly to the developers. I've reported bugs and seen them fixed in days (or even within the day).

In practice, almost all real Windows software support comes from fellow users in much the same fashion as Linux support - newsgroups, weblogs, personal homepages etc.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Remember the Windows users' opinions (4.25 / 4) (#51)
by AmberEyes on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:41:14 PM EST

I've tried to get help from MS before. Yah, it's a pain. Yah, they might not go into as much detail as you would prefer. But, in my experience, they at least get you back working.

Is the quality of help something that is similar to that of Linux tech documents, written by gurus who know the kernels inside and out, on a caffeinated high at 2 AM? Not even close. But the average Windows user base doesn't care about that - they're perfectly happy getting an answer - any answer - so long as they can start working again.

As you put it, MS can be pretty bad at fixing bugs in their stuff, but their products work, in some fundamental level. Do Linux products work better? Most do I am sure. But the key point is that Windows users are more tolerant to put up with those bugs (heh, "features"), than someone who can recompile their kernel to add a new feature.

If I may be blunt, I hope I don't offend, but I think you're still looking at this issue through Linux-colored sunglasses. My original intent was to provide an explanation as to why Windows users prefer Windows to Linux, and I think I have succeeded by some degree. Rather than tell the Windows users why they are incorrect, your energies might be better directed at accepting their mindset, then incorporating your own product (be it Linux or whatever) to those same users.

As odd as it may seem (even to myself sometimes), some people are satisfied (note: satisfied != happy) with MS's amount of tech help.


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
I *was* a windows user, so (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by itsbruce on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:50:02 AM EST

I think you're still looking at this issue through Linux-colored sunglasses. My original intent was to provide an explanation as to why Windows users prefer Windows to Linux

Is totally invalid. Rather than tell the Windows users why they are incorrect

And where, in any of my comments here, did I do that?


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Clarifications (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by AmberEyes on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:32:55 AM EST

Well, I certainly wasn't trying to infer you were a Linux zealot or something, don't get me wrong about that. However, you decry MS tech support, their bug patches, etc, as well as adding that you much prefer open source software where you can talk with the developers and get things fixed immediately, etc.

With that in mind, my point is that to me, you are looking at this issue as "Windows users put up with a lot of uneccessary grievances to their work (which is true), but that to alleviate this, they should fully embrace a system that has fast bug reports, tracking, and solutions, as well as a better system of tech support to fix your problems".

"Yes", you might say, "that would make more sense", and I would agree. But remember that many (most? - not all though) Windows users are satisfied (again satisfied != happy) with reboots, blue screens of death, and bug ridden software, so long as they can get the work done with a moderate degree of sucess.

So rather than simply saying that they should just change over to a more efficient system (Linux, Open Source, insert-your-own-here) and being done with it, I would tend to advocate that Linux groups (or any alternative OS/OS-like groups) look at the fact that Windows users are quite forgiving of problems so long as they can be fixed very quickly, with low amounts of work on their part, and without needing to understand what went wrong, then figuring out how to tailor their OS to allow much easier use from the average Joe end user. Doing that, I suspect, would at least help bring Linux desktop usage up. My grandmother can use Windows without referrence manuals. Get her to use Linux without referrence manuals, and you have a product for the masses. =)

However, I just woke up, and wanted to respond to you before I had to go to work, so many this post doesn't make much sense. But, I wanted to say that I wasn't trying to make you out to be a Linux zealot or something like that - this is just an attempt to clarify my own speech. Also, I might as well add that all of the above was what I got out of what you said, so if you meant something different, please tell me if I am in the wrong.

If you read any other comments of mine, you will usually figure out pretty quickly that I have to go back and elaborate on what I originally said - usually I either say it the wrong way, or people take it the wrong way, so sorry if I offended or anything. =)


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
MS have good service in some areas (4.00 / 2) (#53)
by charliex on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:57:53 PM EST

I had a problem, i called them they gave me the home number of the expert in the field, he helped me out as much as he could then gave me his cellphone number, and said i could call whenever.

Not all support calls cost, the aforementioned didn't.

Its not really MS's fault, its just the sheer number of users, i guarantee you that if linux got to the same size, you'd soon see the developers disappearing from public eye, they'd be swamped with emails for help, and never get anything done, goodwill and the best intentions can only go so far.

[ Parent ]
Gaming Platform (none / 0) (#72)
by Woodblock on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:45:18 AM EST

What I use my linux desktop is a lot more important to me than playing games. I am more productive, and more in control of my desktop than I ever was or will be on a Windows desktop. Your main argument, and unfortunately your strongest, is that Windows is a better gaming platform than Linux. However, there are much better gaming platforms than Windows. If I wanted to play games, I would go buy a console gaming system. There I don't ever have to worry about a single driver, setup.exe, or games crashing. Also, I don't have to shell out $3500 plus a few hundred every couple of months to keep up with the games coming out. I use my computer as a tool, mostly, and don't want to put up with flakey support and poor performance just to play Whizbang Game v. 2002
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
[ Parent ]
This is a no brainer! (2.57 / 7) (#15)
by blues5150 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:04:43 PM EST

Most computer users don't care what OS is running under the hood. Linux is not nearly as easy to use for the "average" individual who uses/owns a computer. Further proof of this can be found by looking at the forthcoming OS from Microsoft, Windows XP. The GUI looks like a kiosk at a supermarket! The desktop PC is being dumbed down just like everything else in this world. So most people aren't going to rush and install an OS that isn't just all point and click.

They that can give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin

Re: This is a no brainer! (3.50 / 4) (#20)
by eLuddite on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:36:18 PM EST

Windows is as complex as the user wants to make it for themselves. NT, in general, is at least as complex as UNIX and I am not (only) refering to the byzantine win32 api which is miserable. The beauty of UNIX is its simplicity, not its complexity.

Dont confuse the Explorer shell, which is a nice bit of work similiar to gnome and kde, with the underlying OS. For example, there is no reason you cant write bash to the underlying NT layer, completely bypassing win32, and booting that instead of Explorer.

I am sorry but W2K (XP) is a considerable work of engineering that Linux pales in comparison to. It is grossly ignorant to dismis to it as "just all point and click."

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

the oldest answer... (3.44 / 9) (#17)
by Signal 11 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:24:27 PM EST

the oldest answer in the computer industry is still the correct one even now:

It's all about the applications

Without applications to compete broadly with Windows offering, linux is doomed to remain on the server (where application support is less important, esp wrt internet apps).

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Sources (3.75 / 4) (#18)
by sugarman on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:25:00 PM EST

A couple other links, to the press release from IDC.

While I'm not about to drop $1500 US for the report (~!), some interesting assumptions can be gleaned from the TOC and Abstract here. Mostly, what was included in the study, and what didn't make it.

From my perspective, <darth>I find the lack of BeOS disturbing.</darth>. Anyhoo, I'll let you draw your own conclusions. Discuss.


BeOS (none / 0) (#77)
by CrayDrygu on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:23:27 AM EST

I find the lack of BeOS disturbing, too, but not in the least bit surprising.

I had FreeBe a while back, and absolutely loved it. It was small, fast, and stable. I loved the GUI, and the fact that it was very *nix-like underneath that. It has a great file system (though the find utility could use some work to make seraching by attributes easier).

However, I found myself going back to Windows a *lot*. Why? The apps. NetPositive is small and speedy, but lacks features, and the last version of Opera released for it is pretty badly out of date. I didn't see a release of Netscape for Be.

There's a lot of media apps (which makes sense, since Be is a media OS), had no problem finding a WinAmp-like player, video players...but no good word processors or even drivers for my printer, nothing like Quicken I can use to keep track of my bank account (and if there were, I bet I couldn't sync it with my Visor), a piss-poor MUD client and halfway-decent IRC client, and mostly decent AIM and ICQ.

I love the OS, but it needs way more apps for it to get even half the popularity linux has. Unfortunately, nobody's going to develop for Be if nobody uses it, so there's a major catch-22.

[ Parent ]
BeOS -- Mozilla Under Development (none / 0) (#101)
by jck2000 on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:13:06 PM EST

A BeOS version of Mozilla is under development -- see mozilla.org and bezilla.inetking.com -- in fact, I am posting this from it. It is just barely useable -- it crashes frequently, is slow, has UI glitches -- but the DOM, CSS, JS stuff seems to work and it has made great progress as of late.. I am optimistic that by summer Bezilla (as they call it) will be useable full-time.

[ Parent ]
Because we're not there yet. (3.25 / 8) (#19)
by Parity on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:25:29 PM EST

It'll be, by my estimate, another 6-8 months yet before
Linux is desktop ready.

Basically, KDE2-final is out, but not yet rolled into distributions.
Kernel 2.4, giving USB support, is out, but not yet rolled into distributions.

Current installers are 'about as hard' or 'a little harder' than Windows. Which is a big improvement, but they need to be -easier-.

The kernel autoconfigurator is still in alpha, but it should make hardware support a snap. (The death of that damned ISA bus helps too.)

X4 is out, giving, I hear, though I haven't tried it yet,
a -much- easier time of getting video up & running, not
to mention better & easier 3d graphics.

Wine is not yet stable, but there is vmware, giving windows

ALSA is, well, I'm not sure where; not 'done' yet, anyway.

And we -do- have the apps... Corel Office, among others, yes, we're still short a good free wordprocessor, but hey. Anyway, users can run Word in Wine (when it reaches normal-user-usable) etc.

Most importantly, several games are going to be released
to Linux in the near future while they're still new.

Anyway. I think the next generation of distributions should be acceptable to what marketers call 'early adopters', which is to say, those ordinary users who actually like tech.

We're probably still several years away from being ready for the technophobe crowd.

Anyway. Relax. Linux is still growing. If you're really worried, try writing a completely automatic Xwindows configuration tool. As in, 'xconf-now<return>' is all that needs to be typed to have working Xwindows with 3DAcceleration if available. -That- put inside install scripts everywhere would take away one of the last painful bits of Linux configuration.

A 'Gamer's Distro' guaranteed to run every Loki & iD app out of the box might help too...

Parity None

KDE 2 (none / 0) (#64)
by PresJPolk on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:41:41 PM EST

No offense, but are you in a time warp?

It's KDE 2.1 that is just coming out.. KDE 2 was out in October.

[ Parent ]
KDE 2.1 (none / 0) (#76)
by Parity on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:24:04 AM EST

> No offense, but are you in a time warp?

Err, no, I just lost the .1 somewhere between
brain and keyboard. It happens.

[ Parent ]
LyX (none / 0) (#66)
by Elmin on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:11:43 AM EST

This is a very good word processor, even though it's slightly unconventional. There is tons of very nice documentation on it, too. All it really needs now are more common stylesheets for LaTeX like MLA, resume, etc., and perhaps some extended support for more esoteric LaTeX features.

I hacked my own little MLA stylesheet, and I've been using it for everything since then.

[ Parent ]

LyX... (none / 0) (#75)
by Parity on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:22:37 AM EST

I like LyX, but LyX is not a word processor. It even says so in the documentation. Personally, LyX is one of my favorite tools, but, it is still not a word processor, and most importantly, it does not interoperate nicely with other word processors.

Even its html export isn't a very good way to send things to other word processors, or even a webpage without some hacking.

LyX does the core work a word processor should do, ie, take in typed text and print out pretty files, but it needs some work on interoperability.

[ Parent ]
Examine your assumptions (3.72 / 11) (#21)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 02:42:49 PM EST

The implicit assumption is that IDC is right. I seriously doubt it. I've personally installed Linux on over 20 computers--and not ONCE was it from a CD that I bought from the distributer itself.

I've installed RedHat probably 3 times via ftp (to various locations)
I installed Debian once the same way
I downloaded ISO images for RedHat 6.1 and 7.0 (not from RedHat) to do a bunch of installs
I borrowed coworker's CDs to do other installs

Every Linux user I know does the same thing. So let's be ultra conservative and say that each sale represents 10 installs. That's 10%--pretty damn respectable, yes?

IDC would be a lot more honest if they called these numbers "shipped" or something--they sure don't relate to the installation rate.

Play 囲碁
Re: Examine your assumptions (4.50 / 2) (#27)
by eLuddite on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:18:16 PM EST

So basically what you are saying is that MS OSes are never pirated or that Linux has a greater installed base than MacOS by the most conservative estimates. Talk about checking your assumptions.

For what its worth, I've walked the height, length and breadth of my company and Linux was the rarest of birds indeed. 1% is only too accurate.

God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Is Windows publicly and freely available on FTP? (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by slakhead on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:39:05 PM EST

Windows is often pirated but linux is freely available on ftp. That would not fall under the category of pirating so if we were to disregard all pirating for a second, it would appear that the current data determination methods just don't support the idea of free software.

The number of people who pirate something versus the number of people who download something online legally and for free is surely a very small ratio. For one thing, there is nothing to stop you from downloading linux. It is legal, easy to access, and all you need is some time. To get warez, there is a much more involved procedure that not just everyone can pickup on.

But if we do consider pirating, according to the traditional marketing point of view Linux would be the most pirated software on the internet and off. And the bottom line is there is nothing to stop me from "pirating" linux so I do. I can't remember the last time I bought a linux cd and I am sure there are plenty more people out there like me.

[ Parent ]
On the other hand... (4.00 / 3) (#33)
by theboz on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:34:00 PM EST

How many people install linux as a dual boot system, then simply don't use it? Sure they might have it installed but since they never use it that shouldn't really count should it? Also, how many people download it onto their windows machine only to find out they don't know how to install it?

I think the problem is that there is no real way to figure out how many linux installs there are out there. However, I'd say 1% is a lot closer to reality than 10%. Think of how many AOL, MSN, etc. users there are. That's a lot of people that have no choice but to use Windows to get online. Also consider the number of workstations running windows 9X, ME, or NT Workstation. Sure some companies let you install linux, but the majority despise it as some sort of security risk and only want stuff they can control on your machines. I'd say there are probably a lot more Solaris installations than linux in businesses, so they couldn't really do a survey of businesses to get an accurate number either.

I think the numbers are mostly meaningless. I would use linux for a personal server but never a desktop until it becomes 1) easier to use than Windows and 2) with useful, fully functioning software.

Right now it's fine for servers. You can run Apache on it and ssh into it to administer it. However, for desktops it doesn't work very well. It's a complete pain in the ass to get it to work with any new hardware, which instantly comes out with Windows drivers. Even then, it doesn't always work with hardware, even popular stuff, because the documentation on the hardware is not readily open to the public (with good reason.) And, if anyone has attempted to install software other than easy stuff like a shell, it's a pain in the ass. You have something worse than DLL hell. You have to download the same version of qt as the developer that made it had, then you find out he had some funky config files for something and then a customized swahili version of make, and it gets to be a pain in the ass. At least with Windows I can install something easily. If I need to update some .dlls, I simply go to the Microsoft website or the site of the manufacturer, download an executable file and off I go. And that is only on the rare occasions that the installer program for the software doesn't come with all the necessary files, which most usually do. I don't have to compile anything and I don't have to go searching through geocities websites with broken links to tell me how to fix my problem.

Then there's the lack of applications. Most of the apps that are available in linux, with notable exceptions like The Gimp and Apache, are inferior. (Actually I prefer Adobe Photoshop over the Gimp but I know it is still a good piece of software.) I have used StarOffice. It's ok but I don't use Word that much either. The web browsers are ok, and I do admit there are some decent programs, but most of them suck. I don't know 42 different fractal generating versions of xeyes. Graphical /etc/inetd.conf editors are not very useful. I don't need to have 98 different user administration tools, and how many versions of minesweeper need to be made before there are enough? What I need is to be able to run the same software as Windows. WINE doesn't cut it...yet. I can't put TurboTax on linux, and I can't play Diablo II. I don't need to worry about things like winamp, because even with oss linux only supports 3/4 of the soundcards out there, not including mine. I don't need netmeeting, since linux doesn't support but perhaps 1/20 of the webcams out there, and the ones it does support you have to go through the compiler and associations hell to get it to work at a slower rate than it would in Windows.

Anyways, as to my opinion on this article, linux has barely started. Of course it isn't going to have a lot of people using it on the desktop because it's not very good yet. As far as I can tell, linux doesn't really have any deadlines. Linus has set things back many times to make sure the quality is there. I won't use linux as my desktop now, but I do have hope for it's future. Meanwhile, I'll run it as a webserver and for email on my home network. I think it does that job great, it just doesn't work for me on the desktop.

[ Parent ]

ease of windows (3.00 / 2) (#39)
by alprazolam on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 04:04:31 PM EST

i have a dual boot desktop. i use windows mostly because theres no linux driver for my soundcard and some apps that i like are windows only. i disagree that windows is easier to use than linux. i agree it is easier to install some software but not all of it, windows has problems sometimes too. i agree on the conclusion though, someday linux will be ready. if ms doesn't get to keep abusing its monopoly.

[ Parent ]
On the gripping hand (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by DesiredUsername on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:36:18 PM EST

How many people a new PC that has an OS already installed (counting towards the final tally) but then immediately wipe it out?

Anyway, I use Linux 100% exclusively at home AND work (well, my wife has a Mac, but I don't use it). I've never lacked for applications and have never had any inclination towards going back.

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
1% is about right (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by danny on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:02:14 PM EST

Analysis of my web server logs suggests that 1% is about right. I wouldn't say it's that accurate (and how does one define "user"), but I'd say it's definitely between 0.5% and 1.5%.

[900 book reviews and other stuff]
[ Parent ]

web server logs? (none / 0) (#90)
by winthrop on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:53:40 PM EST

One of my browsers (Netsape 4.7/Unix) identifies itself as Netscape 3/Mac (PowerPC). I don't know why and I don't really care, but you should be careful about things like that when you analyze logs.

[ Parent ]
Good! (4.00 / 15) (#30)
by rusty on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:27:31 PM EST

I'm a linux-elitist, and proud of it, and I say this is good news. Let me explain...

For my own selfish reasons, I'm glad linux is not being used by 99% of desktop computer users. 99% of desktop computer users don't really want a computer, they want a toaster that shows them email. This is fine and good, and should be the natural way of things. 99% of drivers want a machine that takes them to work and back, so naturally they don't all go out and buy Indy cars.

I was interested enough in finding out what this machine could really do to overcome the hurdles of deciphering cryptic HOWTOs and a lot of "RTFM" and learn how to use Linux. The barrier to entry made me a more informed computer user, and was enjoyable to overcome, because it forced me to learn about the machine, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. The reward was that I got an extremely stable and flexible system, that meets my needs almost perfectly, is free, and offers new opportunities to learn interesting things all the time.

And the other great benefit is a huge reduction in the number of dumb computer questions that I have to answer from friends and relations. They all know by now that while I know far more than them about computers in general, I know very little about Windows, and have no interest in helping them with this or that support question. So it's win-win, as far as I'm concerned.

I also know that the nearly entire GNU system was developed without a profit motive in mind, and that a perpetual lack of acceptance by the 99% of toaster-users will not change that one bit. This is a system developed for the love of hacking, and the love of hacking isn't going away anytime soon, that I can tell. So if there never is any mass-market penetration of Linux, I'll still be a happy linux user, at least until something more interesting comes along.

Don't see this as an attack on Linux. See it as what it is -- irrelevant. If you don't want to put in the effort to learn about it, Linux is probably not for you! This isn't a bad thing; you very likely have things that interest you more than computers. Pursue them, and use Windows to read your email. So there's no misunderstanding, let me be perfectly clear: I don't think that using Linux makes me better than anyone else. I just think that people should use what fits their needs, and Linux doesn't fit the needs of 99% of computer users. Whether this is because of actual properties of the system, or just perceptions ("hard to use", "no support" etc) that may not be true, doesn't really matter.

If you're a linux enthusiast, by all means tell your friends that they should check out linux. The ones that have enough interest in the machine will do so, and will eventually find out for themselves why they should be using it. The ones that don't, won't, and you'll be spared the time trying to explain to them what 'make install' does. You'll be a much happier person for it. :-)

Not the real rusty

Let me get this straight (2.75 / 4) (#38)
by GreenCrackBaby on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 04:01:09 PM EST

If I read your post correctly, you are saying that the negative aspect arising from a much broader linux use would be that linux users (especially you) would have to answer more questions from novice users. ??? Kind of lame argument, isn't it?

[ Parent ]
That's just my personal selfish reason (4.00 / 4) (#47)
by rusty on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:30:39 PM EST

That's my personal selfish reason for being glad that Linux isn't "mainstream". I'm not saying it's a good argument, just that it's how I feel.

The more meaningful argument in there is that yes, there's a learning curve, and if you're not willing to learn, it probably isn't the system for you. So few partisans either way seem to really grasp that there are significant differences between one OS and another, and between one person and another, and that no amount of advocacy will change that. Some people are better suited, in interest and temperment, to certain kinds of systems.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

AMEN (4.33 / 3) (#57)
by regeya on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 08:10:11 PM EST

The more meaningful argument in there is that yes, there's a learning curve, and if you're not willing to learn, it probably isn't the system for you.

I actually scared a former roommate out of using Linux. I was willing to help the guy, I really was. I let him borrow my old copy of Running Linux, my copy of UNIX In A Nutshell, and old C programming book that had a lenghty introduction to the shell, basic commands, and vi, and he flipped through them for about 30 seconds and said, "So, Shane, I wanna hava cool setup like you've got." (at the time, I was running E, for reasons unknown to me now) and I said, "Well, that's cool, but first you have to learn the basics. Here, let's take a look at this book here. I'll step you through some stuff..." "Yeah, yeah, that's great, but I can do that stuff later. I wanna play around a little bit before I get into that." "No, seriously, you need to learn this stuff first," I said with a smile. "If you don't learn the basics, you won't even be able to install E themes." "That sucks. I don't have to do that in Windows." (Yeah, buddy, and you never figured out that I BO'd your machine, this after you said you went around crowing that you were a l33t hax0r, eh?) "I think I'll just install NT."

So there you have it, my Linux Elite Bastard Thought of the Day is that if someone's too lazy to learn, direct them to the Microsoft shelf. Having said that, I hated the transition between 3.1 and Win95... :-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

so you don't want (2.60 / 5) (#41)
by alprazolam on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 04:14:02 PM EST

to be able to use new hardware? ever? because that's what would happen if linux didn't have at least some measure of mainstream acceptance.

[ Parent ]
Say what? (4.00 / 6) (#45)
by rusty on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:26:39 PM EST

When did mainstream acceptance become a prerequisite for hardware drivers? And if that's the case, how did Linux ever get started in the first place? I don't think the 99% of desktop users who run windows now are ever going to be writing device drivers, so whether they want to use Linux or not is irrelevant.

The official "elitist" response to that would be, I think, that if you want a driver for a device, and the company won't provide one, and you can't cajole another hacker into writing one, you should write it yourself, or quit whining. And if the hardware is black-box, and I can't reverse-engineer it, and the company won't provide me with enough information to do so, they don't deserve my money or support anyway.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

blackbox (2.33 / 3) (#52)
by alprazolam on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:42:44 PM EST

if there's an official government sanctioned ms monopoly the only hardware you will be able to write drivers for (hardware with released specs) will be old as shit hardware. it's not a fact, its a fear. but i think it's reasonable.

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by rusty on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 09:39:05 PM EST

if there's an official government sanctioned ms monopoly...

The chances of which are still looking pretty dim, despite GW.

...the only hardware you will be able to write drivers for (hardware with released specs) will be old as shit hardware.

Not necessarily. A lot of hardware uses open, public standards, a practice which is becoming more prevalent, not less. If the standard is open, you can always write a driver for it. MS also doesn't often, I believe, strongarm hardware manufacturers into keeping their specs secret. The hardware makers that do usually do it out a misguided idea of "security" or "intellectual property." For the most part, this applies to graphics accelerators. And no, I don't really care if my graphics card is not the latest and greatest. That's what I meant above by "different systems suit different people."

So yes, the fear is there that writing open drivers could get harder, but I guess we'll burn that bridge when we come to it. Right now, it isn't the case.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

"Needs latest hardware" ?= "Gamer&q (3.50 / 4) (#48)
by elenchos on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:51:08 PM EST

Is it accurate to say that the ones who find themselves most beholden to hardware manufacturers, and most in need of their cooperation, are gamers? And to a lesser extent fans of onlin or PC music and video? Which are fine things, and nothing to be ashamed of (sega boy ;-). I'm just asking if you think the discussion about Linux needing lots of mainstream support would be a little more honest (for lack of a better word) if it were understood to be a disucssion among people who want computers to be a home entertainment device. If that were the case, then those who want computers for other reasons could sensibly take a different approach, similar to the RMS/hacker, the "elitist" or Rusty's point of view: that mainstream support is maybe nice but mostly beside the point.

Or are there other good reasons why drivers need commercial support?

(Did I just now make up this ?= symbol, or does some language use such a thing?)

[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 0) (#95)
by itsbruce on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:35:13 AM EST

Did I just now make up this ?= symbol, or does some language use such a thing?

It's the "I just had a mastectomy" emoticon. Not widely used.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
"Ever?" Excuse me... (3.00 / 1) (#94)
by itsbruce on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:23:09 AM EST

to be able to use new hardware? ever?

So over the top. Replace "ever" with "when it comes out" and you do have a point. But...

  1. If the new hardware is simply a new variant on existing technology (as is usually the case), there is usually an existing driver that will work with it - it just won't support the new features.
  2. Where there isn't a working driver, someone's on the case. And they're doing the device testing at the same time. Which is to our benefit. Installing a brand new device with brand new drivers is usually asking for trouble on any OS - look at all the problems NT had with 3rd party drivers, look at how they've been forced to nail it all down with Win2k.
  3. Because we don't depend on the commercial companies to provide drivers, linux drivers do exactly what they are supposed to and only what they are supposed to. The whole point of a linux driver is to make all devices of a particular type function like the same, idealised device. Once a device is installed, you shouldn't need to know what brand it is. A printer is a printer is a printer. Does it do duplex printing? That's relevant. What make is it? Who cares. What you never see on a Linux box, thank god, is a dialog box popping up and saying "Thankyou for choosing to print that page to the CANON DP9000, we will now play you some soothing music while we decide which tray you really wanted to use."

It's only where a whole new technology (e.g. USB) comes out that Linux struggles to play catch-up. Given the way that Intel is co-operating with the Linux kernel developers these days (64-bit Linux on IA64 will be a reality well before 64-bit Windows on anything), this is far less likely to be a problem in the future.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
It's a win-win for me, too:-) (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by yankeehack on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:54:07 PM EST

And the other great benefit is a huge reduction in the number of dumb computer questions that I have to answer from friends and relations. They all know by now that while I know far more than them about computers in general, I know very little about Windows, and have no interest in helping them with this or that support question. So it's win-win, as far as I'm concerned.

That's OK, rusty, leave the dumb users for me. I'm the one who gets the big bucks teaching them. (No, really, I do.) ;-)

No one who was bad in bed has ever been good in life (i.e. liberals, I've never had sex with a liberal woman who knew how to use her body.) Keeteel :-P I'm *right*!
[ Parent ]

One thing that is needed for desktop domination (4.18 / 11) (#31)
by tnt on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:27:41 PM EST

One thing that Linux needs to do to conquer the desktop is to come pre-installed with new computer (people buy at stores). [Whether this be as the only OS. Or as one of multiple OSes -- on a multi-boot system.]

For the normal users, they are going to use whatever OS comes with there computer. Saying things like Linux is free, switch to it, won't work, because to them, they didn't pay anything extra for the OS anyways. (Normal users usually don't see, or maybe care about, the hidden cost(s).) And to switch, they're going to have to pay for a boxed distribution... and install it... and run the risk of lossing all their stuff they already had on their computer.

Really, if you want the general public to use it, then IMO it has to come pre-installed on the computer they buy.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

But with what applications? (3.00 / 2) (#55)
by Fred Nerk on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 07:26:40 PM EST

The problem with selling new computers with Linux pre-installed, is application support.

If family buys a computer, they don't want it to be fast, stable and free, they want their games and Microsoft Word to work on it.

[ Parent ]

Good point, so... (none / 0) (#63)
by tnt on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 11:24:34 PM EST

You said:

they want their [windows] games
This problem will probably be solved soon. There is a company, TransGaming Technologies, that is implementing DirectX on WINE. (They've already implemented the Direct3D API on WINE apparnetly.)

You also said:

they want... Microsoft Word to work on it
Well I'd guess that even if Word doesn't work on it, as long as they can view and edit their word documents, they'll be happy. Word Perfect does this already, and I think Open Office (a.k.a. Star Office) does too.

So, one down, one almost done. ....We're almost there.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
this already exists! (none / 0) (#67)
by nickp on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:18:27 AM EST

There are already many sites that do this! Just check out the Linux hardware retailers.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein
[ Parent ]

What about the stores? (none / 0) (#74)
by tnt on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:02:51 AM EST

But what about the stores?

What I'm talking about is where most of the normal people go and puchase computers... at their local store. If Linux is going to take over the desktop, then it needs to come pre-installed on the computers normal people buy. And normal people buy computers from their local stores.

They go to one of these (local) stores, because they either already know they have computers, or (they go to the store) because they saw an ad in a flyer.

If you want to sell to these people, then you have to get these computers (with Linux pre-installed) into these stores.

     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
Sort of... (none / 0) (#86)
by NovaHeat on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:43:51 PM EST

It "exists" in small niche companies that you find online. I've yet to see a "Linux Store" downtown, at the mall, ANYWHERE. The fact of the matter is that the average computer buyer cannot go into a department store and get a computer pre-installed/set up with Linux... heck, the people WORKING in department store 'computer departments' generally don't even know about DOS, to say nothing of UNIX.


Rose clouds of flies.
[ Parent ]

This isn't too deep but just my point of view (4.00 / 8) (#37)
by slakhead on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 03:53:44 PM EST

As consumers we are trained to take what is given to us and we expect things to "just work." Linux doesn't really do that. You have to mess around with different distros, kernels, window managers, hardware, and vague configuration files just to get your system to the way you dreamed it. From the consumer standpoint that is a nightmare. Most people just want something that works out of the box and the idea of goofing around with a computer is not even something to consider when work has to be done. They just don't have the time.

But on the other hand that is the appeal of linux because you can do whatever you want. I am very happy with my current setup. I just started using Enlightenment and I am very impressed. It is just what I want in a window manager. I also downloaded the free version of Opera for linux which finally came out this month. I know it seems like a trivial thing but now I use linux 90% of the time and windows 10% whereas previous to these changes it was more like 50/50.

No one could just hand these things to me though. I had to figure them out for myself and get what works best for me. I think this whole "linux problem" can be compared to why people don't like physics or math. If you really study them and take sometime to figure out what it all means, the results can be extremely rewarding. Most people don't care though. They would rather say math is hard. Physics is hard. And that is that. They will take simplicity over intellectual freedom and expansion.

So the bottom line is:

"Linux is hard so I will take part in the simplicity of mediocrity."

I am afraid that TV is much the same as Windows. In an attempt to appeal to the masses, everything needs to be dumbed down. It slows us all down as a culture but until people start thinking in terms of longterm goals and accomplishments instead of the "here and now" that pervades our whole culture, TV will be mindless, Windows will be ever more popular with "the masses", and Linux will continue to be the choice of those who choose to look a little deeper and work a little harder for something above average.

Nothing "just works" ... (none / 0) (#65)
by Elmin on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:03:12 AM EST

The only thing that turns people off to linux is that they are afraid of it and using something else right now, because there's nothing inherently easier or harder about using linux as opposed to Windows or something else, it's all just a matter of familiarity. If it ever becomes the dominant server platform, enough people will start having experience with it that it can become less scary and in turn more popular.

[ Parent ]
I don't care. (3.83 / 6) (#42)
by itsbruce on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 04:40:19 PM EST

Linux suits me very well as a desktop. The people who do use and develop for it are doing a very good job as things are, IMHO. The numbers game is meaningless.

As a desktop, Linux gives me the control I need and all the flexibility I could ask for. I've never had the problems some other people have described on this page - *nix is actually very simple if you're prepared to stop and think and learn.

Of course, I work in IT, I do development and sysadmin work so it has the apps I need. If it doesn't have what you need, that's a different story. (If it doesn't have what I need, I build it).

I don't care if Linux never breaks out of it's limited desktop niche, because I live in that niche. In fact, I'd be worried about the potential damage a rush of popularity could do, as cynical distributors dumbed down. Is that elitist? I don't care about that, either.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
linux desktop (3.75 / 8) (#43)
by Funakoshi on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:10:40 PM EST

The way I see it, the numbers don't matter. Linux doesn't have a goal to take over the desktop or any other market. Its not owned by anybody has no marketing strategy. I like Linux so I use it and I suspect more and more people will, as it is refined. That being said a 2% increase seems like a respectable number considering.

Linux isn't about market share (none / 0) (#87)
by perky on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:09:05 PM EST

That is exactly right: I don't care whether Linux (or, for that matter, any other operating system) wins in the marketplace. It matters to me not a jot whether Linux has gained or lost n% in any given market segment. I use it because sometimes I want the functionality of a *nix. Other times I want to be able to use MS word or whatever other piece of Windows specific software you care to name. The simple fact is that Linux market share really doesn't matter. What matters is QUALITY. If it is better then use it. If not, then don't. Make your own choice and cease to care about decisions that others make that don't affect you.

-- "Freedom is the by-product of economic surplus" Aneurin Bevan
Note: spamblocker...
[ Parent ]

I'm sorry (4.57 / 7) (#46)
by regeya on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 05:29:37 PM EST

You're confusing the goals of mainstream press with the goals of developers at large. I'm sure there are people who would love to see their software used in a desktop OS environment (and I'm speaking of people who develop KDE/Gnome/whatever apps) but the people I see hawking Linux as a desktop OS are journalists. Journalists posing the question, "Is it ready for the desktop?" Some journalists are asking the question, "Why aren't Linux developers fixing those problems keeping it off the desktop?" I don't see this sort of thing going through developer mailing lists, but then again, I only occasionally scan archives.

More to the point, where does IDC get these numbers? This article doesn't say, and I can tell you that I was not contacted by any IDC reps. :-) If it's sales, they've still missed people like me.

In all seriousness, whe you're going to have to see for Linux "market penetration" is good old-fashioned Microsoft-style bundling. Ship computers intended for the desktop with Linux. Sell cheap PCs with Linux, KDE2 and Mozilla on 'em. Set up the hardware for the user. They'll never know if it's easier or harder to set up, because they won't have to worry. Well, there's always the question of what happens the first time they have to fsck the filesystem(s), but someone could hack together a graphical client, I'm sure.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

simple answer (4.37 / 8) (#54)
by rebelcool on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 06:58:10 PM EST

It's too difficult to use. My mom is the perfect example of who needs a simple OS. She doesnt care about root, user permissions, device drivers and the like. What she DOES care about is something that she can surf the web, type a letter (and print it easily), and send email. Windows works just fine, and in my opinion, windows interface is a hell of alot more intuitive than gnome and the like.

If the thing crashes (which is rare if all you do is word processing...), she knows she can simply push the little button on the front of the machine, and in a minute it'll come back up. No need to logon or any such silly things.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Too difficult to *set up* (2.00 / 2) (#69)
by itsbruce on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:54:14 AM EST

If you said that, I'd agree. But too difficult to use? No way. If someone set your mom's PC up with Mandrake and a KDE desktop, she'd have something easily as usable as any Windows desktop.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
ive found... (none / 0) (#92)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:46:48 AM EST

that the browser crashes for many unknown apparent reasons alot more on linux than on windows. Plus the windows internet browser's tend to work alot better with all sites (mainly because of better java support)

Also, the UI is more consistent across windows, in mundane tasks such as saving files which is a *huge* plus. It's the little things like that that count.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Consistency vs choice (none / 0) (#93)
by itsbruce on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:41:02 AM EST

Also, the UI is more consistent across windows, in mundane tasks such as saving files which is a *huge* plus.

If you only install KDE apps, you'll get that consistency (and there are plenty of them, enough to match any of the range of accessories that come with a standard windows installation). The fact that there are also many apps that use other interfaces and many apps written on other *nix platforms where KDE is not readily available (or were written before it existed) is not a weakness.

There are apps for windows that don't use the standard interface toolkit, as it happens. They're just rare.

Note: I don't actually like KDE. But it's good at what it does.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
i dont use kde either (none / 0) (#99)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:25:27 PM EST

my UI experience with linux has been limited to gnome, and i find it annoying that in some places i can double click a file to open it, but in others i cannot. Also, i dearly wish for more type the file name in a box and hit enter, rather than reach for the mouse. Some apps have these, some dont, and some have a mix. It's annoying.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Re: simple answer (none / 0) (#88)
by sigwinch on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:42:14 PM EST

My mom is the perfect example of who needs a simple OS. She doesnt care about root, user permissions, ... No need to logon or any such silly things.

If this was cars you'd have said "My mom needs to be able to activate the starter motor at any time. None of this silly needing a key, or having to take the transmission out of gear."

Having multiple-user support takes minimal extra effort, and makes the machine much more reliable. Important system files never get accidentally deleted on a Linux system; it's a regular occurrence on Windows systems, and the official solution is to format the hard drive and reinstall.

Moreover, it allows you to easily share your computer with another person. Keeping everybody's customizations separate -- and all their files too -- is a great convenience.

Windows works just fine, and in my opinion, windows interface is a hell of alot more intuitive than gnome and the like.

Linux GUIs are making rapid progress. If you are basing this opinion on an experience several years ago, it might be time to take another look. Start by looking at Ximian Gnome. It installs on top of the leading Linux distributions. It's pretty and works very much like Windows. There are little differences, but the differences are mostly idiosyncracies that are easily learned.

That being said, I wouldn't yet recommend that the average person try to install or manage a Linux system. There still isn't a solid, comprehensive configuration system. The Windows "Control Panel" really does work pretty well, and Linux doesn't yet have an equivalent. (I do not consider Linuxconf very good. Webmin is pretty good, but it's still too hard for the average person.)

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

still too much (none / 0) (#91)
by rebelcool on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:44:50 AM EST

Again, my mom has absolutely ZERO need for *ANY* of that. She does NOT need multiple configurations, she does NOT know how to delete a file nor does she ever, so shes not going to delete system files. She doesnt *care* about system files, root and the like. She does NOT want to sit there and try and remember what her password was (since linux enforces such arcane password schemes, I have a hard enough time remember all mine across the various systems i work with, much less my aging mother)

Windows is perfectly fine for what she does. Linux won't come close to topping the "dont-care-how-it-works" market for *years* if ever.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

But it would be useful (none / 0) (#106)
by sigwinch on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:08:35 PM EST

Linux won't come close to topping the "dont-care-how-it-works" market for *years* if ever.

One word: TiVo. It's a video recording appliance that runs Linux, a routine and typical use of Linux. If they'd tried to use the continuing disaster that is Windows 98, it would have flushed their company down the toilet.

Most of your complaints about Linux boil down to user interface issues. In other words, it isn't that your mom wouldn't benefit from having a home directory (think of how easily you could back it up for her), but that having to enter a password is too much trouble. Ditto for the standard arcane system administration programs. Unfortunately all the current Linux distributions are oriented towards hackers and corporate administrators, but I think we'll start to see "Linux For Ordinary People" distributions start popping up over the next few years.

And once someone decides to make Linux easy to use, they'll have no limits to how far they can simplify the system. Windows/Outlook/Internet Explorer may be simpler today, but they still have to be complex enough to be useful in a corporate environment. The hypothetical Linux Internet appliance just has to do email, web browsing, and word processing and it'll do what 90% of people want.

Go one step further and imagine the typical family with two adults and several kids: everybody wants to use the computer, but buying extra machines is expensive. In a few years, you'll be able to just hook a second montor, keyboard, and mouse up to a Linux computer and let two people use it at once. (I say in a few years because it's just now being done experimentally. In a few years the support will be solid. I hope.) This is fairly trivial if the operating system can deal with multiple users. Windows 95/98/ME will *never* be able to save money like this.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

My mom does! (none / 0) (#97)
by ooch on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:54:07 AM EST

I set up an account on my linux box for my mother, who even finds a mac a little hard to use, and she can use linux without problems!

Just keep it simple, with a grapical login, not to much buttons in Gnome/Kde/whatever and even your granny will be able to use linux IMHO.

[ Parent ]

My mother & stepfather also. (none / 0) (#103)
by zuvembi on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:15:19 AM EST

I set them up with Linux recently (SuSE 7.0) and it's worked out fairly well. She's happy that it always acts the same way. It's predictable, it doesn't do wierd things at random. I set it up for her, didn't give her the root account, and she's able to do all the things she wants too (Mail, WWW, IM, Word Processing, etc.)

She's even gotten to the point that she wants some books to learn how to use it better and maybe some mild sysadminning. She NEVER wanted to learn how to do windows, it frustrated her too much. But she seems to be adapting fairly easily to Linux.

A few things she really likes about it.

  1. No double-clicking (anti-intuitive and somewhat difficult for beginners to do)
  2. Middle button opens new windows.
  3. She can't muck up the system as a user.
  4. I can remotely admin (except for when the problem was her modem was dying...)

So I guess my point is, is that Linux IS easy enough for my mom to use.

[ Parent ]

Here's Why! (4.40 / 5) (#58)
by LaNMaN2000 on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 08:33:25 PM EST

For most people, there are no material benefits to switching to Linux. All of the end-user applications that they use were written for MS Windows, they have been interacting a similar user interface since they began using computers, and the power/flexibility of Linux would be lost on people who don't really need it.

Also, desktop manufacturers realize that they would be flooded with tech-support requests from people trying to figure out how to use the new OS, so they do not bundle it with PC systems.

Face it, Linux is designed primarily for power users and servers. It is not designed for the household market and there is little cause for disappointment at the fact that it has not succeeded in that area.


Lenny Grover -- link-spamming to make Google give me my name back!
1% is a lot (3.66 / 6) (#61)
by danny on Thu Mar 01, 2001 at 10:09:16 PM EST

1% is actually rather a lot, if you think about it the right way. That's probably 5 million users, world-wide. How many Windows users were there in 1985?

It's also 1% and increasing, if not as fast as the "world domination" folks would like - year ago the figure was maybe 0.6%. I stuck my neck out last year and predicted Linux' desktop share would reach around 3% in mid-2003: I still think that's a reasonable prediction.

[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Lack of Applications (4.00 / 3) (#70)
by Buddha Pow! on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:21:12 AM EST

The reason GNU/Linux isn't taking off on the desktop is pretty simple and everybody knows it: lack of apps and games.
Your average user doesn't *care* about what OS or the desktop manager he uses. He cares about what he is *doing* with his computer and he wants it to be easy and if possible, pretty.
Until we have at least *on par* apps for joe average, GNU/Linux won't make major inroads on the desktop.
L'intelligence c'est comme les parachutes. Quand on n'en a pas, on s'écrase.
Pierre Desproges

Methodology (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by Woodblock on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:55:15 AM EST

It be interesting to know how the generated their numbers. One potential problem I see with the study is that it probably factors in business/corporate installs, perhaps to an extreme degree. While, this is entirely valid, I think it may confuse many. When I read the comments here I see that most are arguing from a home computer standpoint: "Windows has more games." "I just want to steal music and check my email." However, corporate installs can be huge with many thousands of seats thus slanting the numbers in that direction, and the slow bureaucratic nature of corporations means that they are going to be very slow to adopt new technology until it is proven. Linux is still largely a wild-card to corporate IT and noone is quite sure how to deal with it. If they studied home vs business use, I think the numbers for Linux would be more promising (or less if you happen to live in Redmond 8)). Of the people I know, I'd say 10-20% have linux either installed, or at least tried it, and maybe 5% use it as a primary desktop. (nb, obviously my methodology is more questionable than IDC's).
-- Real computer scientists don't use computers.
i think simplicity of installation is key (4.50 / 2) (#78)
by nickp on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:53:12 AM EST

I've been using Linux for years. I can't say that I'm very satisfied with it. I'm a developer so my expertise with Linux is probably far beyond average users, but here's how I would feel if I put myself in their shoes. I would be very helpless in the world of Linux. There are MANY applications for Linux and some are quite good, especially commercial ones. I'd say Linux has much more apps already than Windows does. Games are still really behind though: the best ones are mere ports of Windows games.

A bigger problem to me seems a lack of directed marketing and poor installation options. An average user just uses the installation that came with the distribution. He or she is presented with the following:

  • a daunting array of options. The documentation describing how each program can help the user is minimal or unexisting. Contrast this with simplicity of Windows component selection and availability of documentation for commercial applications.
  • a default kernel that often lacks hardware support. Contrast this with Windows NT installation, for example, where there is a detection phase and various modules are loaded and tested initially. I popped a Debian 2.1 CD into a friend's computer and it simply would hang half way through kernel boot. No menus letting me choose kernel options, etc. Even FreeBSD has better kernel booting. Users frequently need to recompile the kernel to get more hardware support. This is unacceptable for average users.
  • a need to configure very technical modelines for X Windows. Voodoo3 2000 AGP does not have the right parameters out of the box, for example, even with VESA detection under XFree86 4.0.2. I had to tweak the image with xvidtune, which is also far from intuitive because modeline parameters are not independent. What a shame.
  • programs that are quickly outdated. I have to upgrade things all the time. Distributions get upgraded binaries into them long after people write programs that already rely on upgraded libraries which they built from source code.
  • always needing to get source code and build. Maddog, the director of Linux International, said the following hypocrisy at a lecture I attended: Linux, by virtue of running on a variety of different systems, overcomes the flaw of different flavors of Unix systems that are not compatible with each other. Well, guess what. Binaries that run on one distribution of Linux don't work on other distributions. Hence the need to get source code and build to get all library dependencies straight. This is just too much. I'll mention that even standard header files differ across distributions.
  • By the way, I'm running KDE 2.1-beta2. All other varieties of KDE2.1 do not work reliably on my system and often do not even compile. This one does. Welcome to the counterintuitive world of Linux where beta is better and stable is stale.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein

I agree to a point (none / 0) (#84)
by Bob Abooey on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:14:47 PM EST

I think you get on the upgrade cycle by choice. I just recently moved from RedHat 6.0 to Mandrake 7.1 even though I really didn't need to. Yes my RH 6.0 was "stale" by most Linux standards but it met every one of my needs. True I had been upgrading the libs to stay fairly current for dev work, but as far as my everyday needs, they were met. So Linux is actually great for the "if it isn't broke then don't fix it crowd" Programs don't typically become "outdated" but you can buy into the hype is you wish.

Now if you like to always have the neatest and the lastest and greatest then you had better be ready to run that gauntlet. I personally don't buy into the hype. Sure I like the new cool stuff to play with, but I'm more satsified with a highly functional box that has an uptime that equals the time between power blips with the electric company.

Now then, if you want to know why Linux only has ~1% of the desktop market, well it's pretty simple really. When you walk into any computer store to purchase a computer you will find it pre-bundled with a copy of Microsoft Windows. It's pretty hard to beat that. Even for free. Most of your average people can barely install software, let alone install and configure a Unix based OS properly. That's not an option. So in a nutshell the only way to win the desktop is to get pre-installed on new computers and come bundled with clones of MS Word and Excell. That is to say it will never happen, unless something very very radical happens.

Comments on politics from a man whose life seems to revolve around his lunch menu just do not hold weight. - Casioitan
[ Parent ]
one person's experience (3.00 / 1) (#79)
by esjatharvee on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:03:32 PM EST

I converted my wife's machine to Linux a few months ago and I'm about ready to convert here back to windows.

1) browsers are substandard. java plugins lock up the machine (netscape 4.7x, netscape 6, mozilla 0.6,0.7, 0.8) site: http://www.jigzone.com, and flash is not well supported
2) sound is a *bitch* and a half to get runnning
3) tablets are not well supported

My wife usually reboots her machine 4-5 times a day because of browser and tablet problems causing X lockups. I know the base hardware isn't flakey because it compiles kernals just fine and ran as an unattended server for months.

On windows, reboots were a weekly occurrence and all the things she wanted to do just worked. My administration overhead was an order of magnitude lower with Windows than with Linux.

am I disappointed? You bet I am! Am I giving up? For the moment. In a couple of years I will try again. Maybe Linux will be desktop ready by then.

Why is she rebooting the machine if X is locking? (none / 0) (#80)
by cr0sh on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:52:08 PM EST

Why not switch to a different vconsole, login as root, kill the process and restart it? I am not saying it is an ideal solution, but you shouldn't have to reboot the entire machine to restart X (unless something is truely hosing everything).

[ Parent ]
compter as tool (none / 0) (#83)
by esjatharvee on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:06:01 PM EST

She reboots because that solution matches her skill/knowledge level. Like many people, her computer use involves a series of recipies (click this, wait, click that).

My wife views computers as a tool not unlike a car, tv or microwave oven. You don't need to know how they work in order to use them. You fill the tank w/gas, change the oil every 5k miles and take it to the mechanic when something breaks. There is no need to know anything about the ignition system or drive chain. You just get in and use it.

So, getting her to switch consoles, log in as root, etc is a non-starter. She is quite justified in expecting the tool to just work.

[ Parent ]
I guess once again... (none / 0) (#108)
by cr0sh on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 06:33:15 PM EST

...we are running into that old brick wall of people expecting a computer to be a simple tool, when it is not. It is a _general_purpose_computing_machine_, meaning one may do a lot of things with it, and because of such, it isn't always perfect. That doesn't mean you should willy-nilly switch it off and on to reboot it (heck, you shouldn't even do this in Windows!). And even with a car, you should read the owners manual, and learn about maintenance and such, minimum - too many people ignore this, and wonder why their car breaks down after a few years. Turning a computer on and off to reboot is like stopping an starting a car with a manual transmission by always leaving it in gear - can it be done? - yes - is it good for the vehicle? - no.

I will never understand why people, when given a tool of power like a personal computer - a machine capable of doing and being nearly anything they want - fail to learn even the simplest of things about it (to the point of not even knowing about file sizes, etc - understanding why such things are important). It wasn't that hard for me to learn such things when I was young (11 years old on a TRS-80 CoCo 2 with 16K), so why is it that today's adults have such difficulty and apathy?

[ Parent ]

Jigzone (none / 0) (#104)
by zuvembi on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:34:36 AM EST

I've run www.jigzone.com a bit, not super extensively, but more than a couple puzzles. It doesn't lock up for me on netscape 4.76 on SuSE 7.0 Linux. I agree that sound used to be a bitch to setup, but I haven't had any problems with modern distro's.

As to the third point I cannot say. From what I've heard, you're probably right about them not being supported really well. I've course I've never noticed it being all that well supported on the windows side either. I've had very bad problems with tablet drivers in windows. YMMV of course, especially if you buy a more high-end tablet than the kind I bought.

[ Parent ]

Netscape is killing Linux (3.00 / 1) (#81)
by krokodil on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:13:13 PM EST

In the internet age browser becomes one of most important pieces of desktop software.

We all know that there are 2 browser most web sites expect user to use: Netscape and IE. Yeah, there are Opera, Mozilla and KDE browser and lynx and plenty if others, but stupid webmasters test thier website not towards W3C specs, but toward Netscape and IE. This is sad bad true. [side note: I was recently writng HTML parser and at the end was forsed to mimic some non-standard but implemented in Netscape and IE behaviour. I could do it standard way, but 90% of sites will look weird]

So, if you already upgraded to netscape 6 on linux you already know how bad it is.

Once Netscape 4 becomes obsolette it will be even worse.

ahh, the statistics (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by Rainy on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:13:44 PM EST

How do they count 'em? With windows, estimating number of users is easy, count the licences, add anywhere from 40% to 600% to that number to account for piracy, and you have a range that is.. well, not accurate but has some remote scent of reality to it. With linux you have tons of people who buy cheap cds at linuxmall.com and cheapbytes.com for $5 and then throw them away cause it's too hard to set it up, and then you got some people who download cd image, burn it, and install it on god knows how many systems. So, I'm not even considering statistics in the slightest unless they tell me what exact incantations and black voodoo they used to get the numbers. What I do rely on is word of mouth, personal experience, number of companies working in the area and the press coverage. Oh yeah, and when I saw numbers that implied that desktop linux usage skyrocketed I was equally sceptical.
On the other hand, this might very well be true. Netscape's win3.11 look on linux doesn't jive with the whole bleeding edge appeal that many windows users fall for. Now when Mozilla is rock solid, 1.2 or 1.4, and the rest of desktop is correspondingly more polished, we'll see. I wouldn't know anyway, I doubt Mozilla or anything will ever replace lynx for me.
Also, what's with this air of betrayed trust, almost like 'i bought into linux hype, spent alot of effort learning it, and now it's not taking over the world!?'. Use it if it works best for you, and if not, don't. Or hang on for idealistic reasons, that's fine too. There was no trust betrayed, though.
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
Several reasons (3.50 / 2) (#85)
by NovaHeat on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:34:54 PM EST

I think that there are many reasons that Linux/UNIX isn't a more powerful force on the desktop.

First and foremost, in my opinion, is the ease of use. Linux/UNIX, regardless of what you might think, is *NOT* easy to use. It requires alot of time and training to get used to. Once you've figured it out, its the easiest thing in the world, but I think UNIX users tend to forget this, since the OS has become so second nature to them that it IS easy... The average, starting user, however, doesn't have development experience, doesn't grasp the concept of multi-user, doesn't understand concepts like 'root' or 'compiling'. To make UNIX truly successful on the desktop, solutions are going to have to be found to these sorts of problems. What is easy for an already entrenched UNIX user isn't necessarily easy for someone who's used to turning on the computer and getting dumped on a desktop swarming with paperclips and 'wizards' telling them how to do everything.

Things like upgrading also pose potential problems. In Windows (newer versions especially), upgrading is 'easy'. Yes, it requires a slough of stupid reboots and things like that, but keeping current in UNIX is generally alot more difficult... The average use needs to be able to point-and-click their way to patches, upgrades, etc.

Uptimes might be important to experienced computer users... but to alot of people, it's not. Virtually all of the 'basic users' I know turn off their machines when they're done. Stability isn't an issue, because they're not trained to realise that there is an alternative to BSOD's every 2 hours...hardware detection and *SUPPORT* is also another issue... finding drivers for specific pieces of hardware is often a trial.

I think that these reasons, even more than software support are holding Linux/UNIX back from greater use in the desktop market. It's seen as an arcane, 'requires-lots-of-knowledge', computer-geek OS, not a simple, easy-to-use, sit-down-and-it-goes OS. And in many ways, it's not.


Rose clouds of flies.

Not necessarily.. (none / 0) (#107)
by jred on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:48:33 PM EST

<quote>First and foremost, in my opinion, is the ease of use. Linux/UNIX, regardless of what you might think, is *NOT* easy to use. It requires alot of time and training to get used to.</quote>

I recently switched over to Linux full time, my gfriend, who is the classic email/http/word processing user needed to type a paper. I was busy upstairs so she decided to use my pc. The first I knew about it was when she asked me how to get the printer to work (I keep it turned off. I told you she didn't know anything). She had no problems minimizing my work, using the KDE menu to find a WP (AbiWord, probably because she's used to MSWord). I don't worry about her using my box, where I usually don't like to share:) And she has no problem with it. If she can use it, anyone can. The only rough spot is the setup/install. But if it were preinstalled, most non-gaming home users wouldn't have much problem at all.

[ Parent ]
The answer requires only one word (3.00 / 1) (#89)
by yelvington on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:34:04 PM EST

... and I'm astonished that I haven't seen it anywhere in this thread.


As in Microsoft Office. Businesses use it. If you want to be in business, you have to read/write the documents that get routed to you. Proposals. Reports. Spreadsheets.

My dual-boot home machine runs Linux 99% of the time. My dual-boot office laptop runs Win98 99% of the time.

Document Formats (none / 0) (#102)
by jck2000 on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:27:53 PM EST

What locks businesses into Office is the various document formats more than the applications themselves -- MS has used document format incompatibilities between versions of Office applications to good effect to block out competitors and drive the upgrade cycle, when the newer versions had no compelling advantages.

What would advance non-MS platforms considerably is the adoption of non-proprietary document formats.* If a business or a home user did not have to worry about having MS Office to read documents generated by an MS Office application, there would be far less reason to get MS Office. Even if MS Office had better performance or a more elegant UI than the cheap or free versions, I do not think this would justify a $600 or so price diffence between MS Office and the cheap or free versions (plus the cost of W2K over a Linux distro). I understand that StarOffice and KOffice have made strides in their ability to read and write MS Word and other files, but I do not think this capability sufficiently advanced that it could be relied upon for mission-critical use. If the formats were open, between a Linux office suite and Mozilla or Konqueror (with pdf, Java and Flash plugins), I think the pieces would be there for a business to be able to go without MS altogether.

* HTML is a good example of how a non-proprietary document format gave MS competitors (at least for a time) the ability to compete with MS. To counter NS, MS was basically compelled to engage in practices that were found to be violation of the antitrust laws -- giving away the browser or bundling the browser with the OS, imposing restrictive licenses of OEMs, introducing incompatibilties in the HTML supported by their products. (I realize that Konqueror is very integrated with KDE and NS introduced alot of incompatible tags in the heydays of the browser wars, but U.S. antitrust law prohibits certains practices by persons having a monopoly that are not prohibited when a person does not have a monopoly). While numerically, MS has won the browser war, HTML is still an open standard and, if and when AOL moves to a Mozilla-based browser, the numbers will change significantly.

[ Parent ]

Mildly relevant link (none / 0) (#96)
by itsbruce on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:15:31 AM EST

Man describes his experience of supporting Linux on the desktop.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
Pure and simple, Lack of advertising (none / 0) (#100)
by yebb on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:45:05 PM EST

Sweet jesus, you could sell warm shit on toast if you had a good marketing team.

There hasn't been enough of an advertising fervour created. That's key to getting the ordinary, apathetic, everyday computer using public to try linux out.
Remember the "Start me up" hype around windows 95?

Maybe the "Peace, Love and Linux" marketing theme that IBM is going to be starting will do something to help Linux's image as a viable Desktop alternative.

Its all about IBM's idea of a 6 story Tux in Times Square, with the logo "Peace, Love and Linux"! Now thats the stuff I'm talking about.

Didn't anyone read the news item? (4.00 / 2) (#105)
by jidar on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 04:09:39 PM EST

I don't know where this comment came from, but the news item linked directly contradicts with the posters statements. Most of the item paints a rosey picture of Linux catching up to Windows in all markets and then it makes this comment:

When revenues are examined instead of shipments, however, the picture is different. IDC didn't release specific numbers, but Kusnetzky said Linux sales accounted for less than 1 percent of the total market. That's because Linux is very inexpensive.

Well doh! It says it right there. IDC numbers are low because they are a measurement of what percentage of the money spent on server OS's went to each server. Since Windows is really expensive compared to Linux it has a much higher percentage of revenue spent, in other words, it's making the most money in the market.

Linux desktop usage at ~1% | 108 comments (104 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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