Home > Red Hat > Red Hat: Linux Desktop Should Take on Microsoft Red Hat: Linux Desktop Should Take on Microsoft Eugenia Loli 2002-06-24 Red Hat 12 Comments “Red Hat is warming to the use of the Linux operating system on desktop computers, a difficult market where customers are picky and Microsoft is the leader.” Read the article at ZDNews. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 12 Comments 2002-06-24 8:09 pm Maybe RedHat has the farsight to understand that GNU/Linux needs more than a pretty GUI to become a competitor on the Desktop. I see too many companies trying to make money with distributions that are only easy to use on the surface. I think he got one thing right: “The key to open-source software success on the desktop is to outflank Microsoft, not to clone Microsoft’s Windows and Office, Szulik said.” 2002-06-24 8:32 pm > “The key to open-source software success on the desktop is to outflank Microsoft, not to clone Microsoft’s Windows and Office, Szulik said.” I say amen to that statement. Any linux distro trying to clone Windows and Office will likely antagonize the developer base and will ultimately go the way that MS is going. KDE and Gnome are fine for MS clones, but we definitely need something strikingly innovative in the desktop arena that appeals to both developers (please get rid of the bloat!) and end users (trying to clone MS means always following behind MS). 2002-06-25 2:06 am “The key to open-source software success on the desktop is to outflank Microsoft, not to clone Microsoft’s Windows and Office, Szulik said.” Yeah, except you need a friendly and usable desktop plus a decent office suite. Major Points: 1. Microsoft has both of these. 2. Most people are familiar with both of these. 3. Most people are comfortable with what they are familiar with. 4. Most people are opposed to change when they are comfortable. Also, how do you outflank (more than temporarily) something as massive as Microsoft and their desktop monopoly? Sorry, but anything the open source community does that is innovative on the desktop, provided it is actually useful, will be assimilated by the borg. And most people will think the borg came up with it in the first place since it will be “better”. Getting linux a place on the desktop is akin to barking up a dead dogs behind. It ain’t gonna move. 2002-06-25 3:30 am I can bet one day Red Hat would own the Linux desktop market. Why? Their wise new saying “The key to open-source software success on the desktop is to outflank Microsoft, not to clone Microsoft’s Windows and Office, Szulik said.” Szulik is aware of Microsoft’s dominance. “You’ve got to solve the .doc problem first,” he said, referring to the file format used by Microsoft Word but not shared by Microsoft. “There are an awful lot of people who have become very familiar with the Microsoft desktop.” Actually, that is easier than it sounds. Simple solution: Hire a lot of people on it. Sun hires two people for reverse engineering Office formats and come a long way fast because of it. If Red Hat hire more than that, it could go futher faster. But Microsoft can play the game of changing those file formats when it wants and indeed has done so, Kusnetzky said. “The name of the game is Microsoft wins and you lose,” he said. The last time Microsoft did that was in Office 97. it was greeted with a lot of backslash that Office 97 came with a plugin with Office 95 compatiblity. Microsoft had not dared to completely change the formats again. “I think the Mozilla team has made great progress. I’m a strong Mozilla user myself. That has been a key implementation that makes the desktop more interesting for our company,” Szulik said. “Our research and our customers tell us they’re basically using PCs for (Web) surfing or for opening mail attachments–doing very basic, lightweight work.” If Red Hat plans to use Mozilla, they must do a lot of work for their version. For one create a totally native version for GTK+ (well, they support GNOME over KDE). Why not Galeon? Galeon is just a GTK+ interface over Mozilla; and could confuse users. Also, if they plan to use GNOME exclusively, they should push for GNOME to have far greater integration and consistency. They should also add their control panel applets in the GNOME Control panel or whatever they call it nowadays. The list of canceled Internet appliances includes the Linux-based Gateway-AOL Connected Touch Pad, Sony’s eVilla, Netpliance’s I-opener, 3Com’s Audrey and, most recently, Compaq Computer’s iPaq appliance. These appliance could do Internet work nicely, but couldn’t do work like “write memos or letters” nicely. Plus, they are all quite expensive, considering you could buy a PC with much more functions besides being an Internet appliance. Moreover, most of these IAs are dependant on one ISP and/or web portal. “We have two competitors. One’s in Mountain View (Calif., where Sun has offices) and the other is in Redmond,” Szulik said. “The road to Redmond is through Mountain View.” Just imagine, if Sun did the same as IBM and HP; would that comment would be valid? And for Felonious Hiddenbottom, most non-geek people I know aren’t comfortable with Windows in the first place. Making for example, a more logical user interface, a much easier to use office suite and web browser, and so on; they might change. I can cite Macs; but the main reason why a lot of people never give Macs a chance is because of their price tag (something Linux doesn’t have). 2002-06-25 4:22 am Redhat has brighter ideas then a lot of other linux distributions out there and that what put redhat in the lead position. not coincidence 2002-06-25 6:35 am Redhat has brighter ideas then a lot of other linux distributions out there and that what put redhat in the lead position. not coincidence A lot of ideas are just improved ideas from elsewhere. What got Red Hat to where it is now is their business capablities. Also, they strived to create a international support team. 2002-06-25 11:37 am They are quite right. Linux are by _far_ not ready for the desktop, trying to push it there, it will fail. And IMHO it will just make people laugh of linux, since it does not by a long shot fulfill corporate needs. Ofcourse there are many companies for where linux might be right, but not the vast majority. 2002-06-25 1:18 pm Linux makes a great OS for both Server and workstation and consumer tool & toy… to me what is important for a desktop WM is speed and being clean & lightweight, and not bloated with a bunch of eye-candy and redundant icons and links, as far as Redhat-7.3 (Valhalla) is concerned i am not impressed with KDE-3.0 and it Still has Gnome-1.4 as the default desktop, I am not a fan of GnomeSawfish, and KDE-3.0 is just so bugged and Konqueror crashes a lot for both a file manager and web browser, so this is what i do to Redhat-7.3 is i leave KDE unchecked and uncheck Gnome too, so there is no desktop after the install (only twm) be sure to include Midnight Commander for a file managerfile browser, then install Blackbox WM it is much lighter and cleaner than both KDE & Gnome, then all you have to do is run switchdesk and then manually edit /Xclients-Default to point to /usr/bin/blackbox because for some stupid reason Redhat does not make it easy to add other desktops, and Blackbox is (for now) a favorite because it does not have any icons on the desktop, no dynamic whiz-bang desktop enhancements, just a simple right click menu to access all applications, and this menu will need cleaning up of dead links and links for your current applications can be added in /usr/share/Blackbox/menu what i like about blackbox’s menu is once you have it Cleaned up it is Global so this one menu works for ALL… Maybe Redhat’s next release will address theses issues, they need to because as it stands right now Redhat makes a great OS (under the hood) but the desktop WM environment sucks, they need to include lots of light WMs like Blackbox, fluxbox, xfce, ICEwm, Redhat dropped Enlightenment which i never missed anyway, so besides Gnome & KDE the only other WM that is included with Redhat-7.3 is WindowMaker which is the only alternative WM included with Redhat’s 7.3 release… 2002-06-26 12:52 am I can sympathize with your concern for bloat because I also use a lightweight window manager most of the time (icewm) with a variety of applications. I don’t run either Kde with Kwin or gnome-session. However, the experience of most users is that Kde 3 is an excellent desktop system, and for those with more modern hardware (at least a 500 Mhz. cpu and 64 MB of ram) Kde is not slow. Maybe slow to load but how many times do you load a desktop system in a computing session? Usually only once. Both Kde and Gnome are superior to anything MS has to offer in terms of the applications that come with it at no cost and the overall desktop experience (multiple destops, prettier, vastly more configurable than Windows XP, etc.). Also there are excellent productivity and office apps available at no cost for Linux which can be run with Kde or Gnome or with a simple window mangarer of your choice. For example, Open Office. Anyone who thinks MS Office is superior is out of touch with reality. It’s extremely bloated and full of security holes and back doors for the installation of spyware. Windows runs slower on the same hardware than even the most bloated Linux desktop. The key is getting Linux preinstalled for home users and that is happening. Desktop Linux is also being installed in many corporate offices worldwide and is being promoted by governmens worldwide. Linux already is replacing Windows on the desktop although that might not be apparent to Joe User who has no concept that he can do more with a computer than download pornography or play the latest version of Quake on a Windows box. Governments and corporations want Desktop linux for price/performance reasons. Through familiarity with Linux at work and school, Linux will feel just as comfortable to home users as Windows now feels, simply because that’s what consumers are used to. I think RedHat is downplaying Linux on the desktop so as not to offend corporate customers who currently use MS products but who are interested in Linux servers. Whether or not that is a good business practice is debatable, but the proliferation of desktop linux is certain. Currently the only defense MS has is to lock customers in at the hardware level and to use incompatible, closed file formats and protocols which only work with MS products. Such tactics are sure to backfire with business customers and foreign governments although they may work with Joe User who pays a premium price for inferior MS offerings at his local retail outlet, along with forced upgrades of hardware to run the latest MS gimmick as slow as the last one ran. 2002-06-26 1:22 am Kde and Gnome are not MS clones – neither are they just desktop environments. For developers, they are more application frameworks than desktop environments. The desktop environment is only a part (although a big part) of what Kde and Gnome have to offer to develpers and to end users. It’s true that the default Kde desktop resembles the Windows desktop and so does Gnome to some degree. Please remember that Microsoft did not invent such features as desktop icons, graphical file managers and task bars. MS got those ideas from third party (mostly shareware) developers and systems like Mac, Amiga an Os2. Microsoft has done some things right but the Windows desktop leaves much to be desired in comparison with either Kde or Gnome. Both Kde and Gnome are prettier and far more configurable, and come with useful applications at no cost. Kde and Gnome applications can bring portions of their respective back ends with them when run in another environment. For example, kde’s dcop. While this adds some to the overhead even when using a kde app outside the kwin environment, you can run a kde or gnome app with no problem with almost any widow manager or even within the other’s default environment. Exactly what do you have in mind for something completely new and original in the evolution of desktop computing? Most desktop users want applications which are easy to use and could care less about originality. They also want ways to manage or organize their desktops with visual symbols so that they can quickly find the apps and services they need for different tasks. Concepts such as using the filesystem as a database and the internet as an extenstion of that database are being explored by both gnome and kde developers just as they are being explored by developers of other systesms. 2002-06-26 4:58 am (quote) Exactly what do you have in mind for something completely new and original in the evolution of desktop computing? Most desktop users want applications which are easy to use (/quote) what is more important is for major applications to be made to run independant of desktops WM or application frameworks, what i hate is when finding a application i want to try and only finding out it work only if i install Gnome or KDE, the that application is out… take Mozilla browser for instance, in Redhat i can install & run it even if Gnome is not installed, but in Slackware8 if Gnome is not installed then Mozilla will not run, this has a lot to do with how the OS installs Gnome & KDE, there are both advantages and disadvantages depending on how you look at it, from one perspective Slackware’s cleaner way of handling both Gnome & KDE’s binary executables segragated from the rest of the binary executables by putting both Gnome & KDE in their respective directorys in /opt and the other perspective of where other distros like Redhat put most all of Gnome & KDE binary executables in /usr/bin (which can get to be a large directory) throw it all in one big directory lol (hey it works so i wont say anything)… 2002-06-26 8:10 am Both Kde and Gnome are superior to anything MS has to offer in terms of the applications that come with it at no cost and the overall desktop experience (multiple destops, prettier, vastly more configurable than Windows XP, etc.). While KDE and GNOME is vastly more configurable than with Windows XP, it also comes at a cost of less ease of use. Apps wise; most of the world’s apps are written in Win32, made for Windows. Also, I notice you have not given any reason besides configurable and apps that KDE and GNOME for the average user, both of which are highly flawed, is superior that provided by Windows. Note: I use KDE as my main desktop. For example, Open Office. Anyone who thinks MS Office is superior is out of touch with reality. Firstly, OpenOffice.org runs on Windows (in fact, it runs much better on Windows than on KDE). Secondly, feature wise, OpenOffice.org lacks a lot in comparison to MS Office. Also, in terms of speed, OpenOffice.org in any platform I have used (Windows and Linux) is vastly slower than MS Office, and consumes more memory than MS Office (and that’s when you are using OpenWrite only, it increases with each component loaded – the same with Office). It’s extremely bloated and full of security holes and back doors for the installation of spyware. Well, I heard a lot of people claim that Microsoft installs spyware in a variety of applications, but you are the first I have heard of that claims MS Office have spyware. Also, I have notice the amount of hacking in search of security flaws in OpenOffice.org is much much less than MS Office, so you can’t really say OpenOffice.org have less security flaws than MS Office. Linux is also being installed in many corporate offices worldwide and is being promoted by governmens worldwide. Except for two third world countries with little computers in the first place, most of the promotion of Linux in goverments and corporations is in the backend. I don’t know of much Fortune 500 companies that switch the desktops for Linux; though I know a lot of these companies that switch to Linux in the backend. Governments and corporations want Desktop linux for price/performance reasons. I notice most of the governments (e.g. China, Germany) moving to Linux are doing so not because of performance and price issues (though they play a major part of it), but rather less dependancy on a US corp. in which on behalf on the American government, could spy on them. Through familiarity with Linux at work and school, Linux will feel just as comfortable to home users as Windows now feels, simply because that’s what consumers are used to. 47% of the education market is owned by Apple. Most of the rest are owned by Windows, and the little left is being shared among UNIX versions and other OS. Except for a few schools here and there, and some computer lab in a lot of universities… really, is there any backings for this claims? KDE Edu is taking this much more better than you. They realize the problem: almost no education applications available on Linux. I think RedHat is downplaying Linux on the desktop so as not to offend corporate customers who currently use MS products but who are interested in Linux servers. No, i think they are downplaying it a lot because they know more money comes from the back end. A lot of corps are not even considering using Linux as a desktop because it cost too much (retraining of staff, a short term loss of productivity and so on). Exactly what do you have in mind for something completely new and original in the evolution of desktop computing? Most desktop users want applications which are easy to use and could care less about originality. Actually, if they would to choose between a half baked uncomplete clone and the real specimen, I think they would choose the later. MS kicked out OS/2 and Mac OS without delibrately cloning those two OS (though, like any other tech company, copied a lot of ideas from them).