Linked by Howard Fosdick on Fri 30th Mar 2012 20:33 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Two years ago, Linux guru Caitlyn Martin argued that "Ubuntu is a Poor Standard Bearer for Linux" due to reliability issues. She said that "Other distributions have problematic releases but other major distributions do not have significant problems in nearly every release. Ubuntu does." In her follow-up piece "How Canonical Can Do Ubuntu Right: It Isn't a Technical Problem," she explained how "...the problem I am describing is probably rooted in policy or business decisions that have been made..." and she offered specific ideas on how Canoncial could address the situation. Are these criticisms valid today? Does Ubuntu offer good reliability? Does it deserve its mindshare as the representative of PC Linux?
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ilovebeer
Member since:
2011-08-08

What we have is a catch-22, where virtually 100% of the tax accounting firms target the 97% of the market who predominantly use windows and neglect the remaining 3% because they're too insigificant to care about (figures are illustrative only). It's a strong negative reinforcing cycle.

You said it yourself, that remaining 3% is too insignificant. When there just isn't enough money in it, there just isn't enough money in it.

And I think the untapped market goes well beyond tax software. I spent money on a few turnkey video editing hardware/software packages for windows because I couldn't find what I needed for linux. This is untapped commercial potential.

So, yes there are definitely opportunities, but the key is cracking down the barriers to entry and getting those products in front of actual customers. The metro app store, with it's exclusive distribution model and 30% fees, is going to make metro users much less profitable to vendors. More opportunistic business leaders will want to cater towards the smaller yet more profitable alternative OS crowd. So I do expect linux to see decent growth. Whether it reaches critical mass or not remains to be seen, but all I can say is that would be nice to finally see microsoft forced to compete on merit instead of abusing it's monopoly power.

First, because an untapped market may technically exist, it doesn't mean there's any real profit potential there. By comparison, why would a company invest their resources into something with an extremely limited pool of customers rather than the much much much larger pool? Linux itself is a terrible platform in many ways when providing commercial products.

There's a reason why Linux has never gotten its feet under itself as even a remotely serious desktop OS contender. This exact conversation has been had a million times before and will be had a million more times... And in the end, Linux will still struggle & flounder as a desktop OS.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

ilovebeer,

"First, because an untapped market may technically exist, it doesn't mean there's any real profit potential there."

To reword that into something I'm more comfortable with: there's real profit potential, but not necessarily any real profit.

"By comparison, why would a company invest their resources into something with an extremely limited pool of customers rather than the much much much larger pool?"

Not having a concrete example to work with, I cannot say anything too meaningful. But here are some plausible reasons:

For one, there's less competition for commercial products on linux than on windows. So the net profit and effort to capture 1/100th of the a windows market, or 70/100ths of a linux market may not be so different.

For another, vendors may calculate that in the long term, they'd be more profitable investing in linux now than in a locked in platform where they know sales are going to be subject to heavy fee structures.

Thirdly, it may be better to invest in the linux market today when it's small rather than try being a "me-too" vendor playing catch up. (if one believes linux is going to grow)


"Linux itself is a terrible platform in many ways when providing commercial products."

Is this technical? Would you clarify what you mean?

Reply Parent Score: 2

ilovebeer Member since:
2011-08-08

For one, there's less competition for commercial products on linux than on windows. So the net profit and effort to capture 1/100th of the a windows market, or 70/100ths of a linux market may not be so different.

70/100ths of a handful of potential customers doesn't add up to much. There's a reason why companies don't pursue a linux-based revenue stream. It's not because of some Microsoft conspiracy that linux-huggers want to believe in, it's that linux looks extremely poor as an investment platform.

For another, vendors may calculate that in the long term, they'd be more profitable investing in linux now than in a locked in platform where they know sales are going to be subject to heavy fee structures.

There isn't a single shred of evidence in the history of linux that could lead you to that conclusion. There's nothing wrong with wishful thinking, as long as you acknowledge it as such.

Thirdly, it may be better to invest in the linux market today when it's small rather than try being a "me-too" vendor playing catch up. (if one believes linux is going to grow)

Linux isn't anything new. Even when the Windows world take big missteps, such as with Vista, linux doesn't gain any ground. The idea that linux will ever be a serious desktop OS contender to Windows is beyond wishful thinking.

If you're so convinced that linux has a promising future ahead of it, why not start a company and invest in it yourself? Nobody else is doing it so it's yours for the taking. Just be prepared to be broke.

"Linux itself is a terrible platform in many ways when providing commercial products."

Is this technical? Would you clarify what you mean?

The same things that make linux attractive, make it unattractive as well -- its constant state of change, frequent breakage, too many distros with too much variance between them (dir structures, packaging systems, etc), multiple desktops (which one do you choose?), and so on and so on..

Linux is too much of a moving target. Investing in commercial linux software is no small undertaking and after all the headaches, you're still left with just a sliver of the potential customer pool you'd have with Windows.

Reply Parent Score: 2