Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 3rd Dec 2008 23:47 UTC, submitted by shaneco
Microsoft The month of December has already been unkind to Microsoft. The software giant's Windows operating system and its Internet Explorer browser saw significant market share drops reported on back-to-back days. Not only was the November percentage drop for Windows the biggest in two years, but Windows market share dipped below a number where it has historically held tight: 90 percent. According to Web metrics company, Net Applications, Windows market share as of Dec. 1 is 89.6 percent. Meanwhile, Mac OS X posted its largest gain in two years, with 8.9 percent market share at the end of November.
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RE[3]: My take
by darknexus on Thu 4th Dec 2008 14:33 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: My take"
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Which is why they are missing something very important: cohesiveness. Linux, as in the GNU/Linux family of distributions, is not a platform or operating system. Linux is a kernel, the GNU userland is placed on top, X windows on top of that, and a Desktop environment on top of that. The trouble is, this does not lend itself well to being a full and integrated environment, especially when one considers the vast number of distributions all of which do various operations and configuration in different ways.
For desktop Linux, you don't have a target you can develop for known as Linux. In fact, some of the variations in distribution are significant enough they might as well be their own operating systems, compatible but in the way that POSIX-compliant systems are compatible. In other words, compatible mostly on a source level but not necessarily at the binary level. Linux is not the operating system. Fedora, OpenSuSE, Ubuntu, or whatever distribution you are running is the operating system which is built upon the Linux kernel as its foundation. The packages included with most distributions have many distro-specific patches, which can introduce difficult bugs into the system. This results in a fragmentation between what is upstream and what is in the distributions--just because two distributions have the same version of KDE, for example, doesn't mean they will behave alike or always act the same.
On the desktop side, which is what most users care about, this results in a variety of user experiences, from the polished to the not so polished. This doesn't really make it easy to support Linux on the desktop. Supporting, say, OpenSuSE on the desktop or Fedora on the desktop is easy enough, but supporting Linux in general can be a royal pain in the backside with all the differences.
This is one of the reasons I'm not sure how long of a future desktop Linux has with the current state of affairs. I don't doubt that it will persist as long as enough people care about it, but I seriously doubt it will rise significantly without some sort of guiding influence to bring all the various parts together; something that is very unlikely to happen, since by its very nature there would be absolutely no obligation to support or go along with such an effort (see LSB).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: My take
by RawMustard on Fri 5th Dec 2008 01:59 in reply to "RE[3]: My take"
RawMustard Member since:

Typical from a non linux user. If they wanted they could support linux easy, it's just they don't want to; stuck in their own proprietary, commercial, market driven, embedded ways. You have the community to help you distribute your wares to everyone if your wares are good enough. Just write the code and let the maintainers take care of the distribution, it couldn't be simpler. For those clever enough - provide the source and they will make it work them selves, it's been working for years and will continue to work for years to come!

Take your blinkers off and swallow the red pill.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[5]: My take
by darknexus on Fri 5th Dec 2008 03:37 in reply to "RE[4]: My take"
darknexus Member since:

Actually, FYI, I've used most Linux distributions around, from Slackware to Debian to Red Hat to Ubuntu to Gentoo and back again. I'm familiar with all of these distributions and I can tell you, for certain, that they handle many tasks differently and are often not compatible on a binary level with one another save for statically linked binaries. I have used and supported Linux, in some form or another, for thirteen years on servers, on desktops, on laptops. I can tell you that it can indeed be a pain to support if the user is not using a distro of which you're familiar. It is not impossible, and I never said it was. I said it could be difficult, seeing that every distro is different in subtle and often not so subtle ways and often has distro-specific patches applied that make troubleshooting even more tricky.
Your response is typical of a Linux fanatic. What exactly is it about you people that cannot tolerate criticism of your pet os? Is it an operating system to you, or is it a religion? I didn't say Linux sucks, I didn't say it has no chance, and I didn't say I hate FOSS. I said I'm not sure how far it can rise as things stand now, and I also stated why I feel like this.
The devil is in the details. Linux has a decent, overall desktop if configured correctly. It is missing many of the little details, though, that add that extra layer of polish that most non-techies expect to see. For instance, configuring surround sound audio, and often audio in general, is way more of a hassle than it needs to be due to the ridiculous amount of different audio APIs. Mr. Home PC User doesn't give a crap about the difference between Pulseaudio vs OSS vs ALSA vs JACK. He wants the bloody thing to work and to easily be able to set up his brand new surround-sound speakers with a few clicks, and in a modern os I'd call that a perfectly reasonable expectation. He wants to pull out his iPod and have it sync to his library of music, no fussing or complaining. He doesn't care about software licenses, or why his MP3s won't play. If it doesn't work for all his tasks, then by his thinking, it's broken. Users like you and I know what to do, and know how to make it work. But the majority of users out there do not, and should not have to know which gstreamer codec pack he needs especially for something as ubiquitous as MP3 and, most especially, when the packages have names like gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly, gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad. I know what I would think if I saw that for the first time. It would go something like this : um, wha? Which one of these do I need? Well, that's ugly, probably don't want to install that one. Hmm... and so on. That leads us to the naming of some of the apps, but I'm not even going to go there. And then there's the issue of installing applications that aren't provided in particular distributions, and updating those packages when the distro hasn't done so, and so forth. I'll say this: I wouldn't know, as a new Linux user, how to install Firefox 3 if my distro only had ff2 and I didn't want to wait for the distro to release an update. In windows it's easy, double-click the executable and click next a few times, and poof that's it. On Mac it's even easier, drag the app from the disk image to the Applications folder. On Linux? Extract the .tar.gz and, if you wish to set it up system wide, add the proper directory to your path, and so on, keeping a watch for any conflicts with the distribution's own version. I know how to do this. The typical PC user would be stumped by it, and we haven't even gotten to having to compile an application from source yet.
If everyone agreed (yeah, right, I know) to set the standard down for the various APIs and behaviors, I think desktop Linux distributions would actually have a good chance. The devil's in the details, remember that, and the little details make a huge difference when push comes to shove. The extra touches can matter more than a shiny new audio API that re-invents the wheel yet again, or bling like compiz.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[5]: My take
by darknexus on Fri 5th Dec 2008 03:43 in reply to "RE[4]: My take"
darknexus Member since:

Oh and I forgot to mention. It is not the distro's job to maintain code from upstream. It is not their job to patch the living daylights out of it, i.e. Fedora. It is not as simple as you make it sound. Far from it, but I'd probably just waste my time trying to explain it.

Reply Parent Score: 2