back to article Could Linux become the dominant OS?

Open source moves at a different speed to commercial software. This has become apparent over the last decade as Linux and its open source fellow travellers (Apache, Open Office, MySQL, Firefox ,et al) gradually established their position in the software world. It may have been frustrating for the open source activists, more …

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  1. Steve

    I wonder

    How many of the fanboys will past the "Linux on the desktop, eventually" paragraph *before* they start flaming off ?

  2. Martin Benson

    Dominant on the desktop? Dream on....

    The bald assertion that Linux will become dominant on the desktop eventually is just wishful thinking. Perhaps at home, but never in the office.

    And the main reason for this is Microsoft Excel. Huge numbers of people in offices have fairly complex spreadsheets which they need to do their jobs. I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense.

    It ain't gonna happen.

  3. Steven Hewittt

    Old News

    This article could have been written 10 years ago. Very little has changed. Linux has stolen very, very little from Windows - it's actually taking market share from low-end unix stuff. The apps for Linux are still way behind MS. There is nothing like Exchange for Linux and other enterprise management tools such as MOM, SMS, SCE etc.

    Linux rocks for a lot of things - web serving (as long as it's not .net), firewalls, virtualization, database, but there's nothing in there for enterprise management. Active Directory, DNS, Group Policies etc. Windows has that in the bag - the same applies to integration. Have you ever seen a Vista desktop with Office 2007 hat has a Windows 2003 server running SharePoint and Exchange in place. It's amazing in terms of collaboration and integration - something Linux simply cannot do at the present point in time.

    Linux will really kick off once it has those elements built-in, and when it finally grows out of the cult status by naming apps and services properly. yum update? Why not just Updater Service or something sensible - and that applies to the majority of the linux stuff.

    Windows has taken off due to the ease of use, then the stability came into play (from 2k onwards). Linux has the reverse, nice and stable - but it's still a bitch to get going from scratch. If you're a non-techncial user of a linux desktop box, and want to look at learning networking then you're truly stuck, cause so much HAS to be done via the terminal that it goes against what Windows stands for - ease of use.

    Desktop side it won't take off until it changes from a GUI running in a shell environment to a full GUI that has access to a terminal. Linux for the desktop at the moment is similar to Windows 98/ME. A command line OS with a GUI application layer ran on top of it. If the GUI has a problem then forget it unless you're an admin or techie. Try getting you're gran to edit graphics settings in xorg.conf over the phone compared to booting into safe mode. (Vista detects a crash do shows the option to boot into safe mode when the box starts - Gran doesn't even need to press F8!)

    It could go either way, and honestly I think there will also be a mix between Linux, Unix, Mac and Windows. Desktop Windows will be here for a good 10 years plus, server side will have at least 15% in 10 years time as well.

    One point on the figures - we have over 300 servers here, 260 are Windows 2003. Not a single server came with Windows, we download it from the partner website. The same applies for volume licence agreements too.

    I'd never buy a machine with an OS. For linux I'll get it from BitTorrent of FTP, for Windows I'd use our Enterprise agreement and get it from the MS website.

  4. Rich Silver badge

    What about the rest?

    "Figures from IDC, in May 2007, show Linux accounting for 12.7 per cent of the server market by revenue compared to Windows with 38.8 per cent of the market. Most of the remainder is Unix, although IBM mainframe still has a share."

    "Unix" is a pretty vague term. If you divide down that remaining 48.5%, you will find a good number of BSD installations. For the rest of the world out there that seem to constantly forget about the freely available BSDs, they are a significant force in the server market. They are also technically superior and more robust than both Linux and (obviously) Windows!

  5. Mountford D

    Embedded systems

    The article fails to mention the variety of devices driven by embedded Linux. AFAIK my Freeview box is, as is my broadband router and my mate's and his remote media players.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ReactOS

    Don't forget ReactOS, the open source implementation of Windows.

    It's becoming relatively stable now with more and more windows applications and drivers working upon each release.

  7. Mark

    To Make Linux Work On The Desktop At Home

    You need 2 things:

    Dreamweaver

    Games

    The Dreamweaver debate has been going on for years with most ways to get round it with WINE, but if Adobe created a version of Dreamweaver for Linux a lot of people would switch over.

    Secondly all games need to work for Linux out of the box, All the kids playing games online would switch to Linux and get rid of thier dodgy Windows XP installs.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Things to consider

    A few things to consider.

    The rise of Linux in the enterprise.

    Much of this could be put down to the rise of the Web. No one doubts that Linux is very widley used her, but eventally it will hit a plateu. In the back oofice, a huge number of people are fans of MS SQL and wouldn't swap it for anything else.

    Also, yes it may rise in developing countries, but places like China, if rumours are to belived are also looking at there own, unique O/S. That's a huge chunk to loose, especially for Linux.

    As for the desktop, you forgot the comfort syndrome. Why do you think Skoda have had problems selling standard cars and Jap sports cars don't shift by the shed load? Brand power. Go up to the man in the street and say "What Operating system do you want?" How many would say, Oh I'd like xyz desktop running on top of xyz flavour of Linux.

    I, for example am no fanboy, I use Windows, I tried Unbuntu and found no benifts to it (except it ran a little quicker) but loads of issues, just simply because of the "Oh it's not in such and such a place, or that's a bit geeky, no way my dad would understand that". Sure given time I may of liked it, but why should I bother. My pc is fine thanks.

    Linux may get more pentration, but it's got a heck of a long way to go on the desktop. In the enterprise, Linux will sit in it's own areas alongside MS. Doubt either will push the other out to a huge degree.

    Each OS has it's place, MS is better at some things, Linux at others. The 2 can co exist.

    As for the MS getting desperate and threating to sue over unnamed patens, sounds a little similar to the Linux vs VMware issue highlighted today.

    Both should put up or shut up...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Could you imagine a Beowulf cluster of Linux boxes?

    No, wait, sorry, wrong chat board... :(

  10. James Minney

    Enterprise management on Linux?

    "Linux will really kick off once it has those elements [directory, group policies, stuff for the enterprise] built-in"

    That was Novell's plan: since they are way ahead of MS in all those areas, then delivering it all onto Linux (known as SLES and/or OES) should have been a winning combination. It's still fairly new, so too early to tell whether it will prove Steven right or not. I can't see why it wouldn't, but life doesn't always go that way.

  11. Paul

    linux is the dominant OS already?

    to expand Mountford D's comment:

    many people use linux without realising it... a number of home broadband modem/routers, the tomtom go, the tivo, the KISS dvd media player...

    people (S Hewitt) who think linux has nothing to offer against exchange and outlook haven't tried Zimbra or Scalix.

    S Hewitt clearly hasn't tried KDE properly, as these apps have no command line equivalent. Nor has he tried a modern installer and setup which makes video setup trivial.

    IME gnumeric is better than open office when it comes to excel compatibility, but that was a two years ago when I tried it.

    Linux is not quite as trivial to install as, say, XP, but it has surpassed Win2000 in its manageability.

    I think that vmware fusion will really give the Mac fanbois a boost.

    The biggest problem IMHO is that windows gives people the impression that computers are simple devices that can be operated by untrained baboons, yet they are probably the most complex devices they will ever encounter, and so the average consumer will always end up secretly despising their machine... yes, even their macs, although they are the least worst option for ordinary people.

  12. Grant Mitchell

    Embeded Systems (Pt 2)

    I agree, I have the following linux systems at home running some sort of embeded linux:

    Belkin wifi skype phone

    Recevia wifi internet radio

    Netgear DG835PN Router

    Maxtor Shared Storage NAS

    TomTom GPS

    Sharp Zaurus C3000 pda

    I have 2 windows desktops, and a windows work laptop,

    so even excluding "standard" linux boxes, linux is predominant in my house.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Games

    Until Linux can run all the games that home users enjoy, including all the big MMO's the most it can hope for in a typical home system is dual boot so the user can switch to Windows to play games. However when you are in Windows you may as well set your email up so you dont have to reboot to check your spam, and why not surf the internet with Windows.... Basically Windows does everything you need an OS to do for the typical home user, yes in poor countries where games cost 2 months wage Linux is a good choice (or BitTorrent), but in the developed world where we want DX10 eye candy Linux cannot compete.

  14. Dave

    Vendor Support

    Linux will never manage to dominate the desktop until two things occur:

    1. Hardware manufacturers provide automatic driver support in the same way they do for Windows, and there's a seamless method for loading new drivers from disk in the same way that happens with Windows when it detects new hardware.

    2. Software vendors release a Linux version of their apps either at the same time as the Windows version or even before. Said Linux apps to have the same or improved functionality compared to the Windows version.

    The catch-22 is that there is little pressure for vendors to do this unless Linux starts being a significant desktop force, and it will never get to that stage without good vendor support.

  15. Cody

    Ubuntu Shmubuntu

    Ubuntu is no easier to use than any other OS, and OSX is no easier to use than (eg) Mandriva or PCLinux.

    And the thing that Linux and OSS has that no other system has is unlimited derivative works. If you don't understand this, you don't understand the economics at all.

    There is no point writing anything about the future of Linux either as server or desktop without covering this.

  16. Ben DAMET

    Title

    @Steven Hewittt:

    This is so much BS. I am no Linux fanboy, but I am a linux user sice 97.

    I used it first for my nat/firewall/server. Was nice, you had managed distros which made the install a breeze, which it was NOT on any windows flavor at the time.

    For my windows machines, at the time, I had a 95, I was quite a gamer, I used a bit visual studio 6, and it was about OK. had 98, 2000 workstation, XP

    2000 workstation was the bes one IMHO, was relatively stable, very lightweight, worjing like a breeze. Only problem wasthe lack of support for game/Multimedia and taht at that pooint linux was doing that for me, and that all distro had a package management system which allowed to have application faster from a safe source and directly integrated in the system.

    At some point in 98 I installed a slackware, which i did not like to much, and didmanage with my very little experience to get it running, X, some apps, ... veryinterestign but not fitting my needs, Quake 2 support was a bit low, I passed.

    Then I started having a less game aoriented use of machines around 2000; and Linux/Debian became my faithful friend. emacs then vim, gcc, full shell capabilities, simple configuration (yes click and pray is something I hate)

    At that point I had 4 machines running, and I could not be bothered to have an homegenous farm, so I continued to have mixed windows, Linux, even some Open BSD at some point. I am now thinking about some solaris x86 to be put on the old dual P2 motherboards I scavenged.

    The point being that, since 2000, each and every time a Linux/BSD machine went down, I felt compelled to repair/replace it. Each and every time a windows machine goes down, it is stripped for parts and never replaced. nowdays only have a windows machine left, and that is only because I cannot be bothered to install a linux on it (which would be 40 minutes somehow)

    What is the value of an OS that does not even have a proper file system management. And for all the user groups and things, I do believe that this is a simple copy of very old unix technology. I am not a windows specialist

    But is it not something like

    Active Directory = LDAP if Iremember well?

    DNS ... well DNS has been on unixes for soooo long

    Group policies : Uhuh, did I miss something, I believe that the concept of groups have been there on unixes sice before fire was invented.

    I might be off the point here, I have not seen a windows server since I stopped working as a techy in corparate and institutional machines parks as summer job.

    Exel spreadsheets are a joke, and should be discouraged at all cost. I have seen some guys using exel spreadsheets whith very small fields to do some graphic rendering. Well, doesn't it say it all.

    And honestly, for offcial documents, there is no better output than a latex compiled document.

    And I did work with IIS/Oracle/Asp and I was really happy to leave after finishing the mission (10 weeks), any more would have lead me to a painful death.

    My current project manager has created a linux distro that is able to install trough network and boot fresh in less than 30 seconds and it is able to cope with heterogeneous hardware. It is using some semi permanent NFS cache to do that. It is used on 500 + machines and have shown so reliable that even the institutions servers are using this system : if the server crashes it gets a full reinstall in some minutes (for availability reasons, servers do not used the NFS cached install and need to download binaries)

    I have never seen that with windows networks, where it was either a ghost and a full disk image for each kind of machines, or a recovery disk with streamlined installation.

  17. Chris Beckett

    re : Old News

    Just to comment on Steven Hewitt's comments. I'm not starting a flame war here, but there are a few things to point out :-

    - Nothing like Exchange for Windows - Well you can run GroupWise services on a Linux server, and in fact we do, several hundred users in a production environment. No worries.

    - Enterprise Management Tools - ZENworks Linux Management - works quite nicely, easy to manage. ZEN Desktop Management services can install to a Linux server and manage Windows desktops quite happily.

    - Active Directory? eDirectory has been on Linux since 2000 or OpenLDAP if you want it.

    - DNS/DHCP etc., again, been on Linux for years. Coming very soon is DNS/DHCP integration with the directory

    - OpenSUSE, Ubuntu etc., do do a lot now from the GUI, but you have the shell if you want it. OpenSUSE brought us XGL/Beryl etc. - wobbly windows, spinning cubes, windows bursting into flames, etc. All in the box, none of this "Windows Vista Ultimate SuperDuper Twin Exhaust Chavvy Edition" business. Paying for a graphics driver is faintly ridiculous

    There's a lot of functionality and power out there in the Linux world, and most of the above have arrived in just the last couple of years. Like I say, I'm not up for a flame war, but those views appear dangerously dated to me.

  18. Eddie

    Well..

    Just about all the Linux users that I know have switched to using Macs, almost all of them saying that they just want to use a Unix that works....

    In embedded and server systems, quite probably

  19. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Bold predictions

    "The bald assertion that Linux will become dominant on the desktop eventually is just wishful thinking. Perhaps at home, but never in the office."

    That's the point, if people use Linux at home, they get used to it. They then start to demand to be able to work at home with Linux and then they move to open formats.

    >And the main reason for this is Microsoft Excel. Huge numbers of people in offices have fairly complex spreadsheets which they need to do their jobs.

    Buy Crossover Office, you can run Excel in Linux.

    " I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense."

    Not everyone works with spreadsheets. Transition from any IT system to another always has pain. But convert to an open format and you can move easier, this is why people are advocating open standards.

  20. Jaster

    Old News......

    What is stopping Linux on the desktop are the three questions

    You mean there is and alternative?

    Yes there is and MacOSX proves it

    Can I run Word/Excel/Access/Powerpoint on it ?

    Yes you can, WINE anyone

    Isn't that a hobbyist system ?

    No, ask the people who are using it on production servers

    The mess that is Exchange/IIS/Sharepoint is a nightmare to setup and maintain, please sign up for this three week course and read these big thick books, then call tech support .....

    I got a LAMP server with a Wiki setup from scratch with no prior knowledge in 1 hour! (and most of that was the install time)

    The various BSD's are the best versions of Unix to use if you want stability or security (pick your flavour for the facility you want) their only drawback is the difficulty of getting some software that works on Linux working on them, and your technical knowledge generally need to be higher

    Please don't mention the joke that is ReactOS, if it ever takes off Microsoft will sue it out of the market, no matter how many code audits they do - It's a copy so it *will* violate copyright or if that is too hard to prove, it *will* violate patents .... no-one will trust enough it to use it

  21. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Virtual AID

    "Don't forget ReactOS, the open source implementation of Windows." Thank you for mentioning it.

  22. Keith Langmead

    Gradual establishment of Apache?

    How can you possibly include Apache in the list of Linux apps which have "established" their position in the last decade? It is and has been well establish for well over a decade!

    In terms of web server, if you check Netcrafts figures (http://news.netcraft.com/archives/web_server_survey.html), which are obviously based on real work data, not just who bought what from a few suppliers, you can see that Apache has in fact dominated the web server market since around 1996, with it maintaining around 60% of the market for most of that time.

    OK, so from their stats Apache does seem to be having another dip, and IIS is rising again since last year, but it's still got a way to go before we see IIS taking the top spot.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows is not main loser to Linux

    This article is clearly just another Microsoft basher the glib comment "Microsoft, the main loser in the rise of Linux" gives it away.

    In fact the biggest loser to Linux by far are the proprietary versions of Unix. In fact in some areas Windows is gaining back share from Linux - in the Web server space Microsoft is winning back market share from almost invisible 5 years ago to now being within 12 points of Linux.

    The Smartfone comment is also at best an exageration or at worse just wrong. Windows Mobile and Blackberry both out sell Symbian unless you limit Smartfone to a very restrictive definiton. They are right though that Linux is a distant also ran in this market regardless of definition.

    Now don't get me wrong, I think Linux has its place as finally giving a (more or less) uniform versions of "Unix" (yes I KNOW it's not really Unix, but it is its natural successor) but being totally dominant? I think that unlikely on the server and totally unbelievable on the client.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    React O/S?

    Are you serious? This is from their Home Page. Fills me with confidence....

    Short-term plan

    The next release will be 0.3.3 which is loosely-scheduled to be released from a working trunk, in July.

    Note: the 0.3.2 release was skipped due to several complex blockers, meaning the deadline was missed.

    Medium-term plan

    The coming 0.4 release series will still stay in alpha stage, and 0.5 release series will be marked as beta, meaning a system which is suitable for every day use.

    Long-term plan

    N/A at the moment.

  25. Will Leamon

    And Home Servers

    To add to Mountford - the article doesn't mention home servers either. I and many people I know use an old linux box as a cheap, upgradeable NAS box. Thank God for Samba!

  26. Glen Turner

    @Steven Hewittt:

    Steven,

    I suggest you need to use Linux a bit more.

    Unix and its little sister Linux were hardened in university computing labs. These are environments with more than 100,000 accounts (more than 5,000 of those accounts being extremely hostile computer engineering students); more than 20,000 machines. Naturally these machines come with the "enterprise management tools" you claim are missing -- you just don't know their names.

    The services provided by SMS, etc are provided by installer scripts, package managers (apt, yum), and configuration daemons (cfengine). The services provided by Active Directory are provided by LDAP and PAM. Group policies are provided by groups :-)

    I've used the Window's collaboration tools. And I really suggest you need to go and look at the web-based forums and wikis to see collaboration done right.

    As for naming, you are joking. Excel? It sounds like a gym training programme.

    As for the terminal v GUI, I don't see that it matters. MacOS is a pretty good demonstration of a fine shell over the top of a command line.

    Your reference to "gran" misses the point. My gran runs Linux because of Windows' behavior under stress. I'd get these calls at work saying "what does Safe Mode mean" and have to get her to run up regedit and read values to me. With Linux I just ssh in and fix the thing.

    Windows isn't ready for the enterprise. This was bought home to me the other day when I asked for a small utility to be added to both Linux and Windows. The Linux people added the name of the package to a dependency list kept in a package named "standard-operating-environment" and the package would be pulled onto every Linux machine that night. The Windows people queued my change to the next "SOE rebuild", a nine day event were a poor sod runs almost 100 installers and re-creates the corporate disk image.

    As for Exchange, don't make me laugh. Google uses Linux-based technology to deliver e-mail accounts with 2GB of storage for $0. How much are you paying for an Exchange CAL?

    Microsoft has its strengths. Systems administration and maintenance isn't one of them.

    Cheers, Glen

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the economy, ...

    The elephant in the room is cost.

    Linux has some upsides and downsides in terms of cost. Per-seat or per-install licensing fee is zero, which is attractive if you're not swimming in cash. But lack of vendor support creates higher maintenance costs than a commercial OS that "just works" on a vendor-blessed hardware config.

    Consumers aren't rational (sorry economists), so whether or not it makes much economic sense, the price tag on the OS is going to drive people to Linux when cash dries up, as it is rapidly doing at the moment. Linux is typically thought of as a cheap OS that'll run fast enough on old hardware to extend its life--exactly the use case for a cash-strapped organization or consumer.

    That's *exactly* why I switched to Linux from Mac OS and Windows at home--I can't afford new hardware, and Mac OS is really, really slow on old hardware (I blame the microkernel OS for its abysmal I/O performance), and my x86 laptop is underpowered for Vista, leaving me with an upgrade path I can't afford.

    The flipside of this is that when cash is available, commercial OS's will win, because when you buy hardware it's already been made to work with the OS, which saves an enormous amount of tinkering that is still necessary in flashy Linux distros like Ubuntu, try as they might to address this problem. Linux distros can improve, and a flagging economy will slow the obsolence of hardware, giving Linux more time to work out driver bugs, but the economy is the big independent variable that Linux and commercial OS vendors can't control.

  28. Mike Perrett

    You crack me up....

    To comment further on Steven Hewitt's comments. I don't give a damn if we get into a flame war, you clearly have not done your research:-

    - There is nothing like Exchange for Linux

    Thank Christ for small mercies - Exchange is limited in functionality. If you want a true collaboration run IBM/Lotus Domino. Top notch support for a commercial offering with true collaborative applications.

    Oh yeah and there's the small matter of Lotus Notes running natively on Windows, MAC and LINUX too. In case you don't know Lotus Notes is the client component that provides all the end user tools a user could want.

    The latest and greatest release has in-built productivity editors (similar to Open Office), making Lotus Notes a one stop solution for many businesses wishing to run a supported Linux environment at the desktop.

    Honestly, I can't believe I'm the first to point this out, the bias towards Microsoft when discussing Linux is simply staggering.

    Mike

  29. Mark

    The point is choice

    I see a lot of people trying to put down Linux and then hail the virtues of MS. This article may be right...it may not...the real point is that it is time for choice. MS is too dominant and they have created a computer world where you don't have choice...with hardware vendor lock-in...computer games...among many other things. Their time is over. They have no place to go but down. Apple could be considered an alternative, but since it cannot run on traditional i386 hardware it really isn't competing against MS they are competing for hardware sails and just happen to be using an alternative OS. So that leaves us with Unix variants the chief of whom is Linux. I think everyone should want to see Linux succeed so that we can see an end to one dominant OS and see the rise of choice and freedom...yea maybe it won't be Linux...maybe Linux will never be the greatest OS, but as long as they keep gaining ground it will leave the market open for other OS's to come up and compete against MS. And I don't even mean a market where MS is whipped out and replaced...I want a market where Linux variants and MS and perhaps some other OS can stand side by side as perfectly valid OS's.

    For now the only OS that comes close for me is Linux...so I will continue to root it on until finally we have choice in our operating systems.

  30. Mark Daniels

    Dominant : Ask the wrinklies....

    I've been using a pc for, oh, a long time. The first computer I ever had was an Acorn Electron. Elite is probably the best game ever.!!

    I've been using Linux for about five / six years. My laptop right now is a dual boot XP/ Fedora7 machine.

    About a year ago I bought my folks a new laptop. I dual booted it, suse and xp. They had a while to play with it and finally settled on xp.

    Why ? Is XP more stable ? Does it have more features, is it more flexible ? The answer to these and other questions is, always NO.

    So why did they choose to stick with xp and remove the suse partition ?

    It is simple. XP was designed for my folks, linux is designed for me. Plug in a camera, xp finds it. Shove in a dvd, it plays. USB memory sticks, scanners, printers, all just appear.

    Sure, you can add them all to Linux, but who wants to /mount every time you want to look at a picture on your external HD ?

    Who wants to 'build' software when you simply want to 'load' it?

    Who wants to spend hours researching the best 'xxxx' product only to find that there are no 'open source' drivers for it and you end up having to but 'the runner up product xxxx' ?

    Well, the answer to that is, not my folks.

    This is an old chestnut, but one worth repeating.

    Linux will not replace commercial OS's until the open source ppl realise that sometimes, simplicity is what is needed.

    I understand WHY dvd's dont play on Linux 'out of the box', but my folks don't really care about that.

    Commercial will always win out, or at least until EVERYTHING is open source, and that will never ever happen.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As for Gran...

    Well, I am a Linux fanboy and I made it all teh way to the end of teh artical, and thought it made some interesting points.

    Personally, I will be buy an iMac as my next PC, why? because I just want it to work. I dont wnat to be set this that and the other. I would install Linux, but the amount of config just leaves me cold, its not a hard task, if I need any servers, these will be Linux/BSD/x86 Solaris.

    I actual think manual command line config is much better then GUI config, sure it looks harsh, but its much easier and more reliable IMO. Plus you learn something about how your computer works. I always think it is best to try and use the command line tools before using the GUI. I had to learn how to manually compile C# .net code from the command line, and I actual learnt a far bit.

    As for Gran, other then SSH which has been mentioned, there is this lovely little service, called WebMin to remotely access a computer. And a user will learn what you put in front of them.

    The whole Groups/LDAP thing has been mentioned before, and shows you what Microsoft is good at, its not software, its FUD.

    With the advent of VMWare etc, the few application that I cant run on the iMac I will run under Virtualisation.

    Excel, if your company is using majorly complex Excel spreadsheets, it has obivously missed the point of databases and software like sage for doing accounts. Really a spread sheet shouldnt be complex at all, and I am sure as Linux raise as a desk top, we will see companies bring out converts etc. I do wonder how user will handle converting their so complex spread sheets to MS "open" format.

    "Windows Mobile and Blackberry both out sell Symbian" -- Erm dude, I think you should stick your head back in the sand Symbian, is all those lovely nokia and SonyEricsson smart phones. Plus of course the new Moto Z1(?). Windows Smartphone just dosnt do it, and never has, it completely misses the point, and tries to squeeze a general purpose OS on a phone, when, what you really need is a specailised OS built to the issues and problems of running a handset.

    Weather Linux is on the raise, or decline is neither here nor there, it is the choice that is important, and it is that choice that MS fear, because as the alternatives become more attractive they will actual start having actual write decent software, and not just any old crap cos teh user has no choice.

  32. Chris

    Why windows sucks.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm no fanboy.. I only switched to linux because I needed to for work (work from home programming), and managed to bork my dual boot config so I'm stuck in linux till I get around to fixing it.. going on a year now.. Just don't have the desire to.

    The biggest thing that makes me love linux for the desktop is the ability to 'kill -9'... Windows has to ask the frozen program nicely to close.. 'kill' does just that, instantly, irrevocably kills the offending PID. If windows had a foolproof kill, I'd be happier using it.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proprietory OS's: The opiate of the masses.

    My desktop PC does what *I* decide it should do 100% of the time. Why? Because I run Linux (that's GNU/Linux to you).

    Sure, its taken me years of learning abouts the guts of the machine and hard computer science to get to this point, but now I can smugly announce to all proprietory OS suckers:-

    Knowledge is Power. Your knowledge is ultimately limited and therefore so is your power.

    Who do people come whinging to when their (Windows/Mac) PC's fail to work as they expect? Yep. Yours Truly.

    You only run Windows on your desktop because you're not smart / interested enough to do otherwise.

    Pah!

  34. Don Mitchell

    A Better OS

    The actual kernel of Windows (that is, Dave Cutler's kernel32.dll) is the best operating system in existance today. Remember, when NT was defined around 1990, UNIX systems were just beginning to support concurrency and threads, while NT had all that plus events, completion ports, multiple heaps, async I/O, modules with formal interfaces, and many other modern features. Linux has just been playing catch-up.

    It's too bad we cannot get the best of both worlds, like the NT Kernel + Direct3D + Apple's user interface. That would be the best system you could build out of existing software technology. OS X is OK, at least it's an object-oriented rewrite of the aging monolithic UNIX kernel.

    As for open source, until they do something original, and not just reverse engineer commercial software ideas, I don't think it would be healthy for them to dominate. It sends a signal that innovation is not profitable, that Stallman and his buddies will just steal your ideas and put you out of business.

  35. James

    I've switched to Linux from Mac

    I used to be a Mac user, but when a friend of mine showed me his Dell running Ubuntu I was swayed back by the cheaper cost of PC hardware and the speed and abilities of Linux.

    Since making the switch it has been wonderful, too. I used to think installing applications on the Mac was a situation where everything "just works" but that was unfortunately often not the case. Ubuntu is much more reliable, with the ability to manage all the files as "packages" that you can install and uninstall with the click of a mouse, and it handles resolving all the dependencies AND upgrading them automatically when updates are released.

    Yes, it still has its rough edges, but for an operating system that is so young, I can't see how it will go anywhere but up from here on out.

  36. Karl Lattimer

    Balderdash...

    @Martin Benson, that is a load of hog wash! Micheal Meeks has done 99% of the work to get 99% of complex spreadsheets running WITH macros and VBA running on open office. Open office is currently undergoing a massive profiling and performance enhancing process and by the end of it (2.4/2.6) should be an easy competitor to Excel, and if not my software (Wine-Doors) will be shipping office2003 packages in the near future.

    @TheReg, the adage used to be fast, cheap good pick any two, with open source you're looking at fast, good, pick any two. The whole debate over who sells the most servers is bull anyway. Most people running linux servers either purchase components and slap them together, or purchase a server with nothing on it, thats because Linux admins know how to do what they want to, and don't need the manufacturer to pre-install all the crud they want, the admin then tottles off to a distributors website and downloads the OS free.

    The same truth of linux can be applied to desktop machines also, I know a boat load of people who buy windows machines then install linux on them, killing the license (some ask for refunds as allowed under the terms of the MS EULA) sales figures look skewed in comparison to reality because Linux is free as in freedom and can be downloaded from anywhere its hosted which is a lot of places. WRT sales Linux will always show poorly because people don't pay for linux on their desktop, and rarely do they buy it pre-installed on their servers.

    I agree that ubuntu is the way forward, essentially a community of people who've had enough and want to make a change without buying a mac, all parts of fedora are better bar package management (try DKMS for drivers, its like heaven). Linux will eventually be dominant in all arenas simply because when the platforms (hildon, hiker, mono etc...) go live it gives companies the chance to capitolise on that code without having to own licenses and forge ahead with developing on top of something closed that they've got _some_ leighway with.

    Linux isn't just for developers though, its for monkeys and humans alike!

  37. Steven Hewittt

    Reply

    I'm not saying Linux doesn't have these tools or products, but just that they're not a patch on the MS verions.

    As I said, the core OS is superb, and for firewalling, databases, virtulization etc - Linux rocks.

    Of course I know that AD is based on LDAP, and I also know that DNS has been running on non-MS OS's since I was in nappies. Which leads me onto my next statements,

    I've used Novell products, and they have nothing on MS. AD, with group policies, DNS Dynamic Updates with DHCP, SMS/MOM, Exchange 2007/SharePoint 2007 etc. Yes, similar products are on Linux, and yes they work very well. But they are about 5 - 7 years behind MS. (Have you used OWA 2007?!!?!?! Or Outlook Anywhere - how about using WebDAV THROUGH your mail server to access you're My Docs or a file share?!)

    I'm not knocking Linux, and of course I understand that the majoriy of the MS stuff is built from standards that were developed first for Linux or other Unix based OS's - but what they have done in the last 5 - 10 years compared to the equivilent on Linux is just miles ahead!

  38. Anigel

    Outdated and inexperienced but thats just the aged windows fanbois

    Well sorry but I have to look at the people saying about cant use linux to hard to set up and configure.

    They obviously havent looked at linux since red hat 5 if infact they ever have and are not just repeating each others arguements ad infinitum without evidence.

    Put an ubunu cd in the drive click install, answer 3 questions, get a cuppa and its all done up running and secure .

    none of this windows stuff put the cd in answer a load of questions try andget that 2 gazillion digit cd code to go in right wait 45 minutes watch whilst it says click to reboot or im going to reboot then asks more questions then you finally get a desktop.

    Modern linux is much faster, simpler and easier to install than windows.

    The only area where windows beats linux nowadays is games and drivers for the latest greatest hardware and nowadays many of the bigger manufacturers are releasing linux drivers anyway.

    As for the person that couldnt open a plain excel spreadsheet in open office I can only assumed they spent hours of investigation to find something that open office cant handle as I have had no problem and have opened up hundreds of screadsheets from many excel versions without a problem.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    windows has a fool proof kill!

    Thats your only reason for not using windows!

    End the process not the task or use the excellent Dtaskmanager.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lots of uninformed comments... Here's another

    "Exel spreadsheets are a joke, and should be discouraged at all cost. I have seen some guys using exel spreadsheets whith very small fields to do some graphic rendering. Well, doesn't it say it all."

    Actually there's a fully working version of pac man written entirely in Excel using that same method. It's testimony to its power.

    "That's the point, if people use Linux at home, they get used to it. They then start to demand to be able to work at home with Linux and then they move to open formats."

    Um no, it works the other way round. The company mandates the OS and the employees want to use it at home.

    "Excel, if your company is using majorly complex Excel spreadsheets, it has obivously missed the point of databases and software like sage for doing accounts. Really a spread sheet shouldnt be complex at all, and I am sure as Linux raise as a desk top, we will see companies bring out converts etc. I do wonder how user will handle converting their so complex spread sheets to MS "open" format."

    I work in banking, before that pharmaceuticals. These people love Excel and it will be a cold day in hell before they give it up. I think you need to get some real world experience and see why they feel like that.

    "You only run Windows on your desktop because you're not smart / interested enough to do otherwise."

    Why do I have to be interested? This is a huge part of the problem. As mentioned above, Linux is developed by developers for developers. Toaster XP will work out of the box, will be compatible with my bread and will let me turn a dial to make it more toasty or less toasty.

    Ubuntu toaster will, well there's a web comic called xkcd. One shows a man on the phone with a knife in his head in front of a toaster with an arm. The dialog goes:

    stabbed: "Hi, I just bought your toaster and I put the bread in and an arm popped out and stabbed me in the head"

    Support: "Did you read the man page?"

    stabbed: "Uh no I just wanted toast"

    Support ">click<"

    Says it all.

  41. Paul

    Nothing stays dominant forever

    OEMs providing Linux pre-installed on systems you can buy, as Dell have started doing, takes away one huge problem for the average home user - the install. Bear in mind Windows is only "easy to install" because most people never have to, it comes ready to go on their new system, and the restore disk is usually just a reimaging tool. If they can also iron out the licensing issues for media formats, and pre-install those, then one less problem exists to put people off.

    Further, if the Linux desktop gains traction in enterprises, or through roll-outs in government offices, schools, etc., that will drive demand for commercial support, will raise awareness of alternatives to MS Office, and will ultimately help it gain support from home users. Businesses are beginning to understand the benefits of open formats, and the bottom line matters; if switching to a Linux desktop with OpenOffice will ultimately help them make more profit by avoiding ongoing license fees and reducing hardware costs, they'll seriously consider it and may end up taking that route even if they have to initially pay to retrain users.

    What makes it in the office is important. Remember that the people who got into home computing in the last decade or so largely chose what they knew from the office, and that was Windows. If what they know from the office changes to something else, then that something else has a better chance of making it in the home market.

    Games will be a sticking point for some, but really, how many people bought their home PC for playing games? The Internet was the "killer app" that made ordinary people want computers at home, and the Internet isn't tied to Windows, despite MS' best efforts in the past.

    Steven Hewitt's first 2 sentences are totally wrong. Linux has changed dramatically in 10 years, from something suitable only for hardcore geeks, to something which is perfectly capable of meeting most computing needs, if given the chance to.

    I tried Linux 10 years ago and despite my Unix experience, it just wasn't the right fit for me, too much effort for no real benefit. At the time Windows XP arrived to market, Linux still wasn't quite there for my needs. A year later, it had improved enough to take over my desktop. Since then I've seen it evolve and improve with every release, yet without needing me to invest in all-new hardware to enjoy those improvements. Linux today is a much more polished product than it was in 2002, never mind 1997.

    During that same time period after XP, Microsoft gave us a couple of service packs, lots of patches to solve security issues, and finally squeezed out Vista, several years late, hardware intensive and plagued with problems. They'll get those problems fixed, but unless they reinvent how they develop Windows, they can't hope to keep up with their competition.

    Linux as the dominant desktop OS won't happen tomorrow, maybe it won't ever happen, but if it was as insignificant a threat to the Windows monopoly as some people seem to believe, why are Microsoft showing every sign of being very worried by the possibility that it could, in fact, take great big lumps out of their market share where it hurts the most, at a time when Windows may be more vulnerable to competition than it has ever been?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OMG!

    Steven Hewitt :"(Have you used OWA 2007?!!?!?! Or Outlook Anywhere - how about using WebDAV THROUGH your mail server to access you're My Docs or a file share?!)"

    You want to start comparing things with Outlook Web Access? Oh my god! Where have you been? Mama's basement? Did you ever get laid or something? OWA is probably the worst thing Redmond ever build. Please, leave it alone. It's enough you have humiliate youself.

    Just to give you a taste of "presently electronic mail services" :

    You can ask Google to host your domain's e-mail. Free as in free beer. That's one. Number two, in Zimbra, you can hover your mouse on a text containing an address then a box appears showing map of that address. Courtesy of Yahoo Maps.

  43. Je

    I love it when Mepis is completely ignored

    This line?

    *********

    This situation changed a little with the advent of the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, which was much easier on the user, but not anything like as easy as OS X.

    **********

    cracked me up. Mepis was released in 2003, long before Ubuntu was even an idea in Mark Shuttleworth's mind... and as is? Ubuntu is still light years behind Mepis in terms of ease of use. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the situation changed a LOT 4 years ago with a Linux Distro that was far easier than Mac OSX. So please, knock off the comments that Ubuntu did anything. It didn't. Mepis was there first, and we would kindly like people to be reporting that fact.

  44. A. Merkin

    Mepis? LOL!

    Don't make me laugh; Mepis is nothing more than a derivative work of Pemis! Pemis 0.0001a had kernel-mode messaging obfuscation waaaaay back in 2001! Mepis is teh suck compared to Pemis; don't even think of claiming the glory that rightly belongs to Oorjart Kermverhaagen! (Since 2001, lusers! Long may he reign!)

  45. Withabix

    Now lets get back to reality........

    Linux may exist in you Car SatNav or mini walkman but is it ready for real world, real corporate desktops?

    I've played with it, interogated it and found it....quite frankly...the most boring thing since they announced the "Segway".

    Look, if you don't make it user friendly, particularly installing software (hell why TFu** should I open an application installer when I can click a .exe file fo it to install for me without pissi** about with another boring application to do the job)

    Hell, I want to find my files and put them where I want without having to spend 2 weeks learning how to. "Drag drop done".

    Want to make it user friendly? Do what windows does without having to hit the terminal every 5 seconds.

  46. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Nothing like a good bun fight for a few laughs !

    " I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense."

    Well that says more about how people have allowed one company to take ownership of their data, and the insanely crap file formats cobbled together over the years. Microoft deliberately make formats such as Excel hard to work with - because once it's easy to work with YOUR data in YOUR choice of program then Micro$oft have lost their proprietry lock-in. Why do you think they are trying so hard to get their "proprietry and not independently usable" file formats ratified as a 'standard' ? The real question should be aimed at Microsoft - why is it so difficult to share data effectively with the rest of the world ?

    Someone mentioned DHCP and DNS - these SUCK big time on Windows. The DHCP server is seriously broken and in no way complies with standards. The DNS server is equally broken. There are better alternatives for both which contrary to comments made have supported dynamic DNS updates (properly and securely) for many years - and the ONLY reason they don't interoperate securely with Micro$ofts versions is that (yet again) Micro$oft have done their "not quite standards based but good enoough to fool some of the people some of the time" proprietry stuff.

    But for those that say Windows is easier to use, well I agree - as long as you are happy to do what Microsoft says you can do, how Microsoft says you can do it, and when Microsoft says you can do it. The moment you want to do something that Microsoft hasn't decided there's a market for, then Linux (or BSD, or ...) lets you do it (with some effort), whilst Windows just gets in the way.

  47. Sabahattin Gucukoglu

    Re: A Better OS

    Oh yes, the original basis for the NT kernel (as developed by IBM engineers, you understand) is a testament to current Windows version stability and high performance in well-written, fully Windows-worthy server applications. But to somehow insist that Unix was in need of, or is in any way behind in regard to, most of what (even today) are second-class and redundant features is laughable (I've never seen anyone actually use I/O completion ports for much, for instance). If select() wasn't the thing (and it and its ilk like epoll() and, more recently, BSD kevents are still not) the things) that define high-availability, very scalable kernel-event-notified (note I don't distinguish async from sync here as it's largely immaterial in skillful, well-written stuff, but even so Posix AIO is way ahead of NT) servers (no matter what Microsoft try to bullshit you with - and believe me, they *will* keep trying), then I don't know what is. Oh, and select() is brought to you courtesy of BSD, thank you very much, and many years ahead of NTOS - Microsoft's implementation is absolutely despicable, and even now doing something as simple as, oh, I don't know - taking multiplexed input from both a serial port and a TCP connection - is best done using that old favourite on a Unix-like OS. Because, quite simply, Unix-likes are known for bringing us atomic and simple constituent parts in early years that get deployment and usage to greatest effect in today's best-served applications. Don't get me wrong - it's not that neither IBM, Microsoft or Unix-like developers always got it right, and even now a vast amount of work on Linux is in optimizing a poor but common choice of usage patterns like fork() (now vfork()), but that doesn't mean the features are not originally developed on or available for any given platform and the strongest sellers in particular areas related to concurrency or otherwise are most certainly not always Windows. I certainly think interactive applications on Linux have been a stumbler for a long time, but that has so much more to do with Unix history (Windows was and always is, to its inevitable weakness in certain cases, a graphical OS) and less to do with technical defficiencies; likewise, out-of-box scalability is a severe Windows weakness that Linux fostered real interest in dealing with. Linux is most certainly not a copycat - many features in the Vista kernel are now nothing but catchups against common extensions to free Unix-likes. If you don't believe me, learn more about the memory manager, window manager, SMP support, TCP/IP stack and the low-latency audio subsystems in Vista. Go on, I dare you. Double double dare even, as long as you promise not to insist I kiss you. Ugh!

    Cheers,

    Sabahattin

  48. Alan Donaly

    No no no

    you don't get it no we don't need Linux to have the

    dominant desktop nor even be the dominant anything

    people don't really need to be using computers at all

    and they really don't need to inconvenience me by

    forcing Linux to pander to stupid people like Ms does

    Since pinheads abound the more unfriendly to the

    uneducated and ignorant the better no dumbing of

    Linux I am sick of this pattern they have their little

    Windows nice bloated operating system for stupid people

    don't change that.B ark people keep using windows

    please.

  49. Shannon Jacobs

    Cooks versus the diners: No soup for Linux

    My own experiences suggest that the Linux hackers are actually the worst enemy of Linux. Most people have no aspiration of being master chefs, but most of the current Linux users seem to think everyone should be doing a little cooking of their own.

    I think that's the main problem that Ubuntu is trying to tackle, and while they are doing a better job than the other Linux distros, they're still falling short. On the merits of the OSes alone, Ubuntu would be quite adequate for most users, and considering the price, it should be ahead of Windows. My own experiences with a local Linux group make me think that the main reason for this is that most Linux people talk a lot about how helpful they want to be, but in reality they're quite disdainful of the average diner.

    Microsoft is disdainful, too, but for the sake of the money they are motivated to hide it while they shove their disgusting Microsoft goo down the diners' throats. (However, I'm using Ubuntu about 90% of the time at home. Take that, Microsoft.)

  50. mcinsand

    linux is my home desktop

    I'm not a developer, but a home user with no Unix family training. Until 2004, my only experience was with DOS/Windows, except for using RDOS for 2 years in the '80's. I didn't jump from Windows to Linux as my home desktop until getting pre-SP2 XP and using it for a year. I moved to Linux because of XP's reliability, configurability, and sufficient Windows' compatibility to give me a reason to stick with Windows. What kept me with Linux (Fedora) is that it is easier to install, configure, and maintain that Windows.

    I consider myself (and the neighbor that I converted) proof that Linux is ready for the common user's desktop. It's merely a matter of overcoming inertia.

  51. Mike VandeVelde

    re: Steven Hewitt

    "but there's nothing in there for enterprise management. blah blah grab bag of MS bits & pieces blah blah... It's amazing in terms of collaboration and integration - something Linux simply cannot do at the present point in time."

    You haven't heard of Lotus Notes & Domino on Linux? Version 8 released today. MS looking *crappy* much?

    Knob.

    Dave:

    "2. Software vendors release a Linux version of their apps either at the same time as the Windows version or even before. Said Linux apps to have the same or improved functionality compared to the Windows version."

    Done. Today. Lotus Notes & Domino 8.

    Mike Perrett:

    d'oh, beat me to it :-)

  52. James Butler

    @Withabix

    LMFAO, dude! You've "played" with it and found it too "boring" to be "user friendly" in a corporate environment? What a pile of crap. Sounds like an attempt at fondling ...

    Oh, and if you can run your Windows installation as you've described, you're running as an Administrator, and you've defeated most of what MS likes to call "security". As a test, try logging in as the MS-recommended "Limited User" and then install something substantial, or drag and drop a few files into one of the Windows system directories.

    Let's see ... installing an app on Linux would go something impossibly "un-user friendly" like:

    yum install firefox

    Ouch! Too confusing!!! Where do I click my mouse?!?!?

    AND it would be installed as the user doing the installation without bitching "waaa, you can't put files in there" or compromising the security of the system.

    Hmmm ... drag and drop? Maybe you didn't diddle your buddy's Linux installation enough ... because drag and drop works just fine, thank you PARC.

    The good news is, you can still try not to sound like an ignorant fu*k if you start doing some real learning, right now. Stop diddling yourself and use your brain ... what little of it hasn't already been "cleansed" by MS propaganda.

  53. Wilson Leung

    Is amused by the author...

    I am amused how the author says that the LINUX OS will win in the end....

    Just goes to shoe they have no clue about the majority of consumers.

    You might want to quote WHICH DISTRO will win in the end... doesn't really matter if something uses linux or not. Its the usability in the end, and some linux distros are NOT intended for desktop use. There's about 5-6 linux distros I know of that are intended for desktops. they can't ALL win... they're stupidly competing with each other.

    So far it seems like Ubuntu is ahead in publicity and ease of use.... but they don't have a big marketing budget, and most people I talk to that are not computer geeks don't know about it... how can it ever win in that sense?

    Linux distros in bussinesses are only used in applications where windows / mac osx or some other distro fails to increase ROI. I would yell at the IT officer if they suggested that linux be used in a law firm for document generation. Don't even talk about star office / openoffice... its a piece of SH*T that resembles Word97, and you'd HAVE to export to PDF before emailing cos it doesn't look the same in Word (usually offset by one line or something stupid like that - then u'd be paying a lawyer an extra $40 per hour to check that their OO format opens correctly in Word -> meaning you'd have to have word ANYWAY).

    If you intend to touch 90% of the pc market with your software, you'd better program in Visual Studio... (unless you prefer Java... I'd probably program on my Mac - POSIX compliant for those who don't know i.e. BSD like). So Linux has its purpose, but SO does Windows and its Office apps.

    Wilson

  54. Mike Pellatt

    Ever hit an issue with an install in Windows ?

    My number one frustration in the SysAdm arena is when a windows install fails to work (I splattered my early-morning tea over the screen when I read the comment about "just double-clicking on the .exe to install a package).

    Once the Windows software installation subsystem, splattered in such a friendly way all around the registry, gets hozed, it really is the devil's own job to get it back. I have a W2K server that I just cannot install the APC software onto for the UPS any more. I've tried everything.

    So, please don't tell me how wonderful Windows software install is. When it woks, yes. But when it breaks, try fixing it without a complete re-install.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Down loading

    the truth is most people install windows because it's easy to steal, I hardly know anybody who has paid for there copy of windows. Down here in the working classes windows would disappear if people had to buy a copy of vista/XP at shop prices it's the same with office it;s so easy to download with key gen, MS knows this and really inst trying to hard to stop it. If you did stop it Linux would quickly become the OS of the masses. So I say support MS in it's anti-pricacy campaign and help the raise of linux

    I am typing this on a laptop running PclinuxOS and OpenOffice and have no problem bring work home and transfering it back to Windows

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In it's current form it is not going to happen

    Linux will never win the desktop unless someones steps up and does for it what Apple did with Darwin and OS X: take that foundation and build from that, and develop and control the OS all by themselves from that moment on.

    No one is really doing that. The Linux companies are currently little more than distributors and packagers. They put together the pieces and try to make them work together, often not very successfully. That's why a Linux desktop feels odd

    and sewed, instead of a coherent, cohesive unit.

    Of course, the Apple approach is the right one, but is also immensely expensive. Apple only manages to pull it off because OS X is not compiting directly with MS software. And the big question still remains. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux right now, but no one has explained how Canonical intends to make a profit with them. They have to make enough money to be able to sustain the development of the OS, and right now it is not happening.

    Without any of this, I see Linux where it is now: a system for servers, for embedded devices, for hobbists, and for people who need little more than surfing the web and for whom OpenOffice is good enough. Dominant on the desktop? Not a chance.

  57. Erik Aamot

    ummm "by revenue" ?!?

    "Figures from IDC, in May 2007, show Linux accounting for 12.7 per cent of the server market BY REVENUE compared to Windows with 38.8 per cent of the market. Most of the remainder is Unix, although IBM mainframe still has a share."

    WTF ? .. that says nothing about how MANY servers are running Linux vs MS servers, only that MS makes the largest share of REVENUE

    get some basic logic before you make comments regarding usage of an O/S, when the article's subject is REVENUE, not number of servers running each O/S

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Follow the platform

    Many comments saying Linux won't dominate as it doesn't have this or that application. Apps will follow the OS. If Linux spreads, and OEM support spreads, the missing apps will appear on Linux. There is a slight whiff of chicken-and-egg here, but nonetheless.

    Linux certainly has the potential to dominate so long as MS continue to charge for Windows. SMBs in particular will not continue to pay thousands when somebody else is giving it away for free. The cost of Windows really hurts small businesses.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Steven Hewittt > Old News

    "Have you ever seen a Vista desktop with Office 2007 hat has a Windows 2003 server running SharePoint and Exchange in place. It's amazing in terms of collaboration and integration - something Linux simply cannot do at the present point in time."

    This'll be the "operating system" that requires stupendous amounts of memory just to bother to startup, and then spends most of it's processor time then doing "magic" things and crashing, attempting to recover from crashes or just to keep the room warm. Attach to this the "wonderful" Office 2007 that offers so much that 99% of users are entirely happy with Office 97 (or would be if it didn't crash so often, but then so does Office 2007).

    Sharepoint is a step backwards 10 years, and MS's attempts to make it *the* file system are laughable in the extreme. They'd be even more laughable if every MS sales-rat wasn't told to push it at every opportunity. Exchange is just another botched up product that breaks every standard it purports to support, chews through resources at a rate that's only matched by sharepoint and is so unaccountable that you can never actually be sure of any part of it's configuration.

    As for these botched bits of bloat being integrated... you are having a laugh aren't you? As soon as you try to do anything that isn't in the single prescribed basic steps for users, you find that they're not integrated at all tightly - instead they're intertwined to become dependent on each other but NOT integrated. If they were, sharepoint wouldn't maintain it's own set of user credentials, exchange would use the same set of credentials as the operating system rather than maintaining a sub-list. Of course, yet another bloated, closed and unaccountable database is just another of exchange's features.

    Now, I'm not saying that there's much in Linux / OpenSource software that's already in place that does ALL of these things in "one package", but the separate applications that are available are all far, far better than the MS offerings. Integration between them may not always be the best, however when they stick to the defined standards it does work.

    Next time rather than just accepting the fiction that MS punt in their adverts about "everything integrated in one place", you should bother to use look into it and see it for the lies that they are.

    Oh, and Linux is NOT ready for the desktop.

  60. Ole Juul

    Some observations

    It's interesting how some of the Windows supportes haven't tried Linux, even when they say they have. What is that all about?

    I don't use Windows at home so I can't comment on how difficult it is to do specific things. I can, however, sit down at a Windows machine and browse the net or write a document, in the same fashion that I do on Linux. Why would that be any different? There are a lot of similarities. They are both following some popular mythical concept of how things are "supposed" to be. Specifically, the use of a complicated picture like GUI, the use of a pointing device requireing hand eye coordination and other unnescesary resources, and the insistance on using a "desktop". In general, making it look and work like some kind of game. (I hate games with a passion.) These concepts have contributed much to taking control away from the user and making "personal" computing a thing of the past. In Linux, if you want to do somehing in a non automated way, it becomes very difficult. Not because of the command line (that's easy for anyone who can type) but because the system is so complex. Even making small changes to my setup is beyond me. Such simple things as colour of various elements, and placement on the screen, require more skills than i am prepared to acquire. I am stuck with using applications to get anything done. I didn't use to have that problem with DOS and I'm still waiting for Linux to catch up ... but I don't think it will. Linux has gone off on the same tangent that Windows and everyone else has. The blind, unimaginative, insistance on using that stupid concept called "the desktop". This is now a world of pre done, no choice, applications only, computing. Most computer users don't actually touch the OS.

    I really don't think it matters much what OS you choose, the average user is going to get the same lack of control. Where the differences lie, is in the attitudes and politics. My computing problems would probably not be be solved by moving to Windows, but I would be into a world of questionable ethics which I don't want to be part of. That's why I stick with Linux despite the problems that I have with it. More people are starting to think the same way.

    PS: The title asked if Linux could (not would) become dominant. Yes, I think it "could", but it very well may not.

  61. ARC

    Oh, please. Give me a break.

    Oh, please. Give me a break. I hate MS with a passion, but still use it. Linux has great potential. How can you not like a free OS that in addition to being free says “here's the source code – tinker with it all you like”. But until Linux is as easy to use by the average idiot using windows – it ain't gonna happen.

    I purchased my first pc in 1986 and had the cover off within a week shoving in more memory (12 meg in a 286 box). I have built every machine I've owned after that first pc. I even switched from MS DOS to DR DOS just to thumb my nose at MS. While I'm more of a hardware geek than a software geek, I don't consider myself the “average idiot using windows”.

    With that said, I've tried at least 10 Linux distros starting with Red Hat 8. In the past three days I've installed three distros – Kubuntu 7.04 (I prefer KDE to Gnome), Fedora 7, and Open SuSE 10. While I liked Kubuntu, Fedora screwed up the grub config so I'll have to reinstall it later (yes, I know I could manually edit the grub config file). Only Open SuSE allowed me to access my FAT partitions after install. Fedora told me I didn't have sufficient permission to access the FAT drives, so I logged out and logged in as root just to check before changing anything else. When logged in as root, the file manager continually asked me via a dialog box- what program I wanted to open the “file” with, I indicate the file manager and up pops a new file manager window and a new “choose program” dialog box. This is repeated ad infinitum, WTF is that? Open SuSE gave me access to my FAT partitions without the hassle.

    This is of course something that with a bit of effort, I'll be able to straighten out myself. But to pretend that Linux is ready for “prime time” with the average user is just wishful thinking. The average user does not care that only a little effort and research will cure the problem. The average user is not interested in doing research to fix a problem.

    Linux will eventually rule the back end side, but the only path for massive adoption of Linux on the home desktop is via the corporate desktop first. Only after corporations provide the pressure/incentive for hardware manufactures to produce Linux drivers will Linux ever have the hardware support and user exposure to make it on the home desktop.

    Flame me if you like but if I as a semi-geek have issues with Linux (win modem driver, anyone?), Linux has zero hope with the average idiot windows user.

  62. Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

    A few thoughts on this...

    I love articles like this, it effectively says "Linux is good, but it's not quite ready yet...".

    Personally I think that linux is more than ready for the commercial and business desktop, if I didn't I wouldn't have taken a job selling it to companies (and before you start, I've used MS since DOS 6.2 - not as long as some, but I have used and supported windows including Vista. I'm not a Linux fan-boy, I appreciate that some people _need_ windows).

    The comments always make me smile on these articles and I often think that they are written or syndicated on ElReg just so that the editor can have a good laugh at the flame war that always erupts. The comments do raise a few points however:

    Q) Isn't Linux is harder to use than Windows or OSX (i.e. is not so user friendly)?

    A) Not really, no. I recently gave an Ubuntu CD to a person who was so far beyond being "non-technical", it wasn't even funny. She installed it without a hitch, connected it to the internet and setup her email and everything else without any issues, she even commented on how fast it was and how well it ran,

    Q) I've used Microsoft Office for years, doesn't that mean I can't use any of my spreadsheets that have macros in them?

    A) Again, not really. Open Office now supports 99.9% of Microsoft Office documents. The only documents that I've had issues with are Office 2007 (although Microsoft Office 2003 can't open them natively either) and a few PowerPoint presentations that have custom animations built into them. I've never had an issue with Excel Spreadsheets regardless if whether they have macros or not (If someone has got a spreadsheet that has lots of macros that they use, I'm happy to try and open it and take a screen shot to prove this if it works!)

    Q) The groupware offerings for Linux are lame.

    A) Some of them, yes. I'm currently involved in a project at work where we are analysing the Exchange alternatives and I am yet to find one that works completely to my satisfaction, the best ones (i.e. the ones that offer the most functionality) seem to require that you run their own LDAP server - If you've already got an LDAP server on your network, this could prove a bit of an issue. There is huge potential here however and Zimbra is currently looking good!

    Q) But Linux looks horrible - Vista Aero has loads of cool eye-candy!

    A) http://youtube.com/watch?v=E4Fbk52Mk1w <- I rest my case.

    Anyways, at the end of the day, most of my customers just care about saving money. We can setup a 20-workstation environment with built in high availability using existing computers as clients for about GBP13k. This gives them the operating system, office suite and much much more included in the price - that's something that Windows can't do.

    Windows has it's place in the corporate environment. I understand that and many many companies have bespoke apps that will only run on windows. What I'm finding is that some people are willing to run those apps under wine or recompile them with Mono in order to make the change.

    If anyone hasn't played with Linux already, I really suggest that you download a copy from the Ubuntu website and have a play. It's a live CD, so you can run it without touching your windows data, so you can't loose (as long as you don't run the installer when you don't want to!).

    Cheers,

    Matt.

  63. Stephen Henderson

    Snake Oil

    "Linux is Snake Oil"(Ken Olson) :-)

    Death of DEC VAX

    Or was that Unix

  64. Grant Alexander

    My 2 cents worth - and please give me the change...

    I am a Linux user and an advocate for OSS. I have a number of years of experience supporting NetWare, Windows, Citrix environments.

    I don't think the masses are ready for Linux. Linux is certainly ready for the masses, it is just that the great unwashed don't understand that yet.

    To those who see the problem being the availability of games - keep your stinking games on your Windows machine. I don't want games on a computer. Computers are for work.

    As for the reliance of enterprises on Excel - that is just plain scarey. I know it happens and I am doing my best to exterminate this kind of cowboy thinking from our organisation. There should be a requirement for companies to declare in their accounts their level of reliance on Excel and MS Access. However, I use Open Office to repair corrupted MS office files.

  65. Aubry Thonon

    Missing the point

    Once agin, I am not surprised that a report which quoted both Linux and Windows has descended into comments of the "mine's better than yours" variety.

    Give it up - you're not going to change the minds of the other evangelists.

    My, that felt good to get off my chest... now, for what I wanted to actually say:

    I always wondered how "they" gathered their statistics? Is it based on the OS that the machine is running when it walks out the manufacturer's door? Or do they query the "live" servers to ask them for OS information? If the latter, I can guarantee you that the info they are getting is WRONG. One of the first thing I was taught when setting up Apache was to modify its info files so it reported the wrong OS to make hacking that little bit harder.

    Oh, BTW: my (home) web server runs Linux and reports itself as W2K. Considering it runs on a slow DSL line, it's perfectly believable. Right? ^_^

  66. Pum

    Time is right for Linux @ home

    As an IT professional from time to time friends ask me to build them a PC for home. I spec out a nice machine according to their requirement and budget. Then I say "for a few quid more you can get this cool entry level 3D graphics card and play some really nice games." And they say, "Nah, I don't want to play games - just web and email and office type stuff."

    The only technical reason to choose Windows over Linux at home seems to be games compatibility. With the rise of Xbox/PS3/Wii/etc, plus people that just plain aren't interested in computer games (there's a lot of them), the need to play games on a home PC is vanishing, and with that the last need to run Windows. Add to that the appaling price of Vista, lack of application support (still no DX10 games actually out that I am aware of), and well documented problems, the opportunity for Linux at home is growing. The main inhibitor for Linux at home is not real, it's perception - MS have had dominance for over 20 years; it takes a while for people to break with that paradigm and believe there is an alternative.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one product suits all

    I use Linux a lot and I much prefer Linux than Windows. However, I don't think Linux will ever dominate the market place.

    There are ways too many different users that one OS can satisfy all.

    - There are users don't give a damn what OS they use

    - There are always Windows/Unix/Apple users defend their choices with uncountable reasons.

  68. J

    Revenue?

    "Linux accounting for 12.7 per cent of the server market by revenue compared to Windows with 38.8 per cent of the market"

    Revenue? Now, considering that, last time I looked, Linux sells for much cheaper than Windows... (doesn't it? I got all my copies for free, I don't know exactly how much they cost coming installed on a server). What would it all mean?

    And what do I care what you run? As long as *I* can use Linux, which I: 1) enjoy; and 2) is really efficient (almost the only choice, actually) for my work;, you might as well be running Win 1.x. Suits you well, maybe.

  69. NightFallTech

    Linux is a pain

    honestly... I'm a developer and i have no technical 'difficulty' with linux, it's just a pain. If i want to throw a file on a usb key i just want to put it in, drag the file and pull it out, i have multiple external hdd's that are sometimes on and sometimes off

    oh, and i do play games and, little consumer that i am, i happen to enjoy a variety that don't run on linux, if my games run on linux, i'd use it... but only for geek cred.

    The home user doesn't have a compelling reason to use linux, the fact that it's 'open source' means _NOTHING_ ... I'm a developer and honestly, i have much better things to do with my time at home than modify my desktop software, i'd rather be outside enjoying the sunshine! and if i'm on the PC, i just want it to run my games, play my music and browse the web, even if linux does this 'better', why would i bother changing?

    The problem with linux fanboys is that, to them, the computer is their life, they assume that spending 20 minutes doing something is a small amount of time, but for ordinary users, that 20 minutes may be all they use the computer for in a week!

    Linux will not become desktop dominant until it runs all the games for sale at your local high street gaming store (by just putting the disk in the drive with point and click installers), until it open any file somebody sends you (Excel, word, powerpoint, pdf) just by clicking, until their ipod works according to simple instructions included in the box, until you can buy any peice of hardware from the local computer store, plug it in and it goes.

    Most windows users will never install a development tool, will never kill a process (they'll just hit the power switch to reboot), will never install an update/upgrade that doesn't happen automagically (they'll get the new version with their next pc), will never open the windows\system folder. and thats how it should be, abstraction of technology for the end user.

    And computers are not that complex, a motorvehicle is a much more complex machine than a home computer in many ways and they can be driven with absolutely no knowledge of how they work, which is again, abstraction.

    Linux is NOT better than windows for any realistic home use, the only reason many fanboys are 'fanboys' is because they want to 'stick it to the man'

  70. Adrian Esdaile

    Linux in every home desktop. Make that shanty or cave desktop...

    ... because without CAD software, us architects (the real kind) aren't going to be designing any more of your fancy-schmancy houses and office buildings.

  71. Casey Dahlin

    Usability is fine where legal

    Linux will not just work when "The open source people realize" or "When vendors support it" (though that will help) It will just work when it is LEGAL for it to do so.

    Case in point: MP3s. They don't work out of the box on Fedora 7. There's a third party repository that can fix this in one click. They'd love to tell you about it. And if they did? If they so much as MENTIONED THE NAME of this repository? They'd be sued out of existence.

    Will linux take over? Maybe. But Microsoft's doom is imminent. Its already begun. The tipping point is probably about 75% market share. That's right. Why? Because Microsoft can't exist in an industry they don't control outright. The presence of ANY competition, no matter the significance, is dangerous to them. They need to posess the industry as a whole to continue to live.

    Now, granted, Microsoft could give up all their products today and do literally nothing for 10 years and still have more money than most countries. The sheer bleed out on time is enormous. But it will happen. In the meantime they will likely reconfigure and find something else to do.

    Beyond the legal issues with codecs and drivers GNOME has NO usability disadvantages I have found to Windows (people wanting to have GNOME/KDE debates please send comments to /dev/null). Mounting of devices is fully automated. File manipulation is drag and drop. I could live without the terminal if I had to. I choose not to because I certainly am not that typical user. Se la vi.

    I relate to my fellow human beings just fine. The linux user, even the linux power user, is no more an inhuman troll than the mac user is a beret wearing tree hugger or the windows user a pencil-necked bureaucrat. I'd appreciate you not assuming to know me because of the kernel I run or how much I can tell you about why it works.

    -Casey Dahlin (cdahlin AT redhat.com)

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Linux is a pain

    You mean you need a painkiller? CF "Proprietory OS's: The opiate of the masses." above.

    Many computer users seem prepared to sacrifice their freedom, security and autonomy to corporations that ultimately try to control them, but drip feed them the narcotic that removes the pain and horror of dealing with some of the most complicated technologies humananity has ever developed.

    M$ developers suffered to take away *your* sins. Follow them and you will be saved.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Relative ease of installation: Linux vs XP

    Apologies if this is somewhere else in the raft of comments, but I thought I couldn't leave it unsaid.

    I recently had to re-install the OS on a laptop because its disk had died. The laptop in question, a Sony Vaio, dual boots. I installed Fedora 7 on it in about half an hour; everything just works -- video, wireless LAN, USB, Bluetooth. No extra drivers to download, no mutliple reboots -- the machine rebooted once during the entire process and that was to switch from the kernel used to do the installation to the final running kernel. That's the same Fedora 7 installation that has installed flawlessly on everything I've tried it on so far.

    I also re-installed Windows XP from a standard Windows XP CD, one that shoujld install on everything. Well, it did install. It came up with a vga driver for Windows (which is excitingly chunky), no bluetooth, no USB, no wired network, no wireless network, no sound. Installing SP2 fixed the bluetooth (I think) and the USB. Network, video and audio drivers have to be downloaded and installed after the fact. Installing the network is interesting when you don't have a network to fetch them with.

    Installing the base OS took about the same time as installing Fedora 7. Installing all the needed drivers, which included some interesting messing around to get the network working at all, took another couple of hours. Now all I need to do is re-install a bunch of apps and I'll have about the same level of functionality as I do under Linux. I'm beginning to wonder if it's worth it.

  74. fon

    the problem with linux is the geek users...

    yes, that is the wonder of linux install!! I do not see why windows cannot do that!!! - though it is most like the burden of 'legacy support'...

    The problem with linux is the lack of 'unification'... and that is why windows is still used..... ONE procedure to install ANY program... no TARs, GTKs, recompiles, GZs, RPMs, ARK, etc, etc.....

    Just find the install.exe or setup.exe.....

    Mediaplayers are another problem.. no unified 'codec update' structure...

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No games

    The one reason I haven't switched to Linux completely (i.e., no dual-boot with Windows) is because the vast majority of games (shooters, rpgs, etc.; I'm not talking solitaire or checkers here) cannot be played under it. That's it.

    Otherwise, it's been much more reliable for me than Windows. I can find all the apps I need in the basic install (word processing, spreadsheet, graphics/imaging, etc.), and I don't need to pay extra for what should be standard features, or buy a new computer to run the new version of the OS.

  76. Sean

    No games, but solid

    Yes, many people (most computer users?) don't care about playing games on their PC. But the fact that most games do not run under Linux (I'm talking FPS or RPGs here, not Solitaire...) is a major reason why Linux is still a dual-boot option, at best, on many PCs. To say you don't care about that feature is fine, but you have to consider it when assessing the chances of Linux taking more of the desktop from Windows.

    I've been using Windows since 1990, and tried several installs of Linux (most recently SuSe 10.0); the most recent install was simple, painless and fast. It had all the apps I needed (word processing, spreadsheets, graphics/imaging, email and internet access), and was 100% reliable. I'd even recommend a modern distro of Linux to any of my friends and family. They don't play games, so they could probably do anything they wanted to on a Linux system.

    I would think the installed base of an OS would have an impact on its support by developers; if the Chinese government were to adopt Linux as a standard, that would have an impact on the installed base, don't you think?

  77. Sam Millner

    To all the People who've got this far

    I salute you.

    Its taken me more than an hour to read through most of these comments, my goodness. But then clearly the sort of people reading through these and replying, like me, have nothing better to do with their time.

    Have a good one

  78. Antoinette Lacroix

    From developers for developers ?

    When browsing trough Linux forums, i can't help but notice that lot's of posts are a bit - well - immature. Like "what wretched thingy do I need to get another bloody thingy working ?". The replies mostly start with "Yo dude", or similar. It looks like the majority of Linux users is quite young. The knowledge of some of the > 13y olds is quite impressive. Guess what OS they'd recommend to their classmates. And don't forget how competitve and cruel kids can be. Nobody wants to be the lone Windows user that is too stupid to grasp Linux. There is a lack of bleeding edge games on *nix - older games run without any trouble in DosBox, Scummvm or Wine. When this is fixed, you can see M$ sinking like a stone.

  79. William Towle

    Safe mode?

    Steven Hewittt: "

    Linux for the desktop at the moment is similar to Windows 98/ME. A command line OS with a GUI application layer ran on top of it. If the GUI has a problem then forget it unless you're an admin or techie. Try getting you're gran to edit graphics settings in xorg.conf over the phone compared to booting into safe mode. (Vista detects a crash do shows the option to boot into safe mode when the box starts - Gran doesn't even need to press F8!)

    "

    That doesn't strike me as comparing like with like, necessarily. What happens when the graphical support for Windows' safe mode fails?

    In linux, if X was (auto)configured badly or suddenly found itself with a corrupt setup, there should at least be another non-GUI or VGA/non-X alternative before you had to resort to editing text files over the phone. Admittedly, the exact method can vary from distro to distro and isn't widely publicised, but more limited-use/partial reinstallation/recovery options become possible *because* of the command line still being present as a fallback. With or without a shop to take it back to (as I suspect you answered on Gran's behalf above) that's more desirable -not less- surely?

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