Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 29th Nov 2005 08:45 UTC, submitted by sebFlyte
Linux Following up on their tests to work out which Linux distribution works best for business, ZDNet has taken a look at the wider issue of whether or not Linux is actually ready to replace Windows on the majority of Windows desktops.
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"Let me say that I said that not as pro-this or pro-that. As a developer, I appreciate Windows environment and integration it can deliver.

I'd be interested in releasing solutions for Linux and that's why I welcomed MONO. However, *nix is still failing to provide an unified ecosystem of integrated services and frameworks (and APIs) as complex as Windows provides. Hence, developing for Windows still is much simpler.

Take a look at Apple which understood this and it's starting to provide basic low-level system-wide services (isn't new CoreData just like Windows data services, available for years? Isn't new system-wide graphics services just like DirectX?). The development model surrounding Linux and xBSD is dispersive. The GPL is harming integration because everyone can go on his/her own and it doesn't encourage developers to stay together and to unify. The GPL model applied to big business is forcing Linux to stay basic and raw because then, on top of bare system, everyone is building their solutions and inteoperability among them is not a goal because could harm selling of solutions from different companies as a whole. This effectively prevents the basic system to evolve and doesn't attracts developers.

On the other side, you have a company which is happy to fill the gaps. When Microsoft thinks a certain service / extension is needed for their system, they will develop it (sometimes harming or crunching partners... sadly, but that's life...) because they're interested into platform as a whole (they can do because they control their technology... something IBM cannot do... nor Novell and so on... while that's something Apple can do).

As an example, check brilliant new Worflow Framework (WWF). That's a basic, low-level evolution to which Linux should reply but, as of now, it's not able to. You can bet a few euros that I will use WWF a lot in my future solutions and that would keep me hooked to Windows again. But Windows will benefit from my solutions as well.

A suggestion: stop thinking Microsoft achieved dominance by unlawful or marketing means. This only partly true. You cannot achieve dominance by marketing but that can help. I suggest that developers for those platforms to carefully watch what Microsoft is doing. At worst, copy. At best, improve."

There is some truth in what you say, but it's not as big an issue as you imply. True, the GPL does not force or even encourage developers to work to a common set of interface and interoperability guidelines. Linux itself has no single programming "standard" that applications must adhere to. And a large number of developers develop for themselves or their narrow needs, not for the larger community. If they then release their work to the community, any usefulness to others is incidental.

However, there's also nothing *preventing* developers from working to a common set of standards. And the GPL allows, in a way that proprietary licenses do not, a developer to pick and choose the best features of the applications that are available, write new functionality, and integrate it with a standard interface.

You're wrong, then, that the GPL "forces" Linux to stay basic and raw. It allows it, certainly. But it also allows an accumulated sophistication that demonstrates the best Darwinian algorithm for progressive change. I see the changes happening. That the evolution hasn't reached the niches you prefer is a shame. But it's a temporary shame at worst. Nothing is forcing Linux back. And you have the opportunity, right, and privilege to influence the direction its progress takes.

Can you do that in Windows?

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