The first article from ZDNet.co.uk is titled “Red Hat broadens desktop push“. ITDirectory holds an article titled “Is Linux Coming to a Desktop Near You?“, while TheAge discusses Red Hat’s decision to unify the two major desktop environments, with an article titled “Unified Linux desktop: good, bad or ugly?“.
Press Responds in the Idea of Linux on the Desktop
2002-09-19 Linux 33 Comments
The thing that amazes me about these mainstream desktop-oriented Linux distibutions is how much they provide the functionality of Windows. How much they look, talk and squawk like Windows.
It sounds the same on the server side. Maybe one is faster one day, the other the next day. But isn’t a Linux server doing the same thing as a Windows server?
Same with Openoffice and MS Office. OK, I know there is a problem with file format capability, but if the whole world switched to Openoffice, what would be lost?
When there is a free version of what you are selling for a lot of money, what value are you providing for your customers?
It’s not that MS has never innovated. But their whole business plan from the beginning seems to have been offer pretty standard technology. MS-DOS they bought from someone. I guess they innovated some with office, but yesterday’s innovation is today’s standard technology. Same with a windowing GUI. That is standard technology today.
What is MS offering that is not standard technology that Linux offers for free? Both in terms of $$$ and free as in the world can do with it as it pleases without one company holding the keys.
>How much they look, talk and squawk like Windows.
So what? Most of the Linux desktops are based on x86, and most of the x86 are Windows. So, having a familiar playground is a plus at this point.
Plus, I really do not believe that not even KDE is like Windows.
> But isn’t a Linux server doing the same thing as a Windows server?
Isn’t an OSX server does the same as a Windows server? What do you mean?
First off Eugenia, let me say I agree with you 95% of the time. But now….
“Plus, I really do not believe that not even KDE is like Windows.”
Did you mean ‘Plus, I really do believe that even KDE is like Windows.’ (Cancelling out the double-negative)
‘Plus, I really do not believe that KDE is like Windows.’
I’m a scientist, so sue me.
I don’t believe that KDE is copycating Windows. Some of the usability is similar to Windows, mostly because their UI designers found this way to work the best for most people, but overall, KDE is not a replica of Windows at all.
The fact that KDE has a taskbar by default at the end of the screen, does not make it “a Windows”.
> What is MS offering that is not standard technology that Linux offers for free? Both in terms of $$$ and free as in the world can do with it as it pleases without one company holding the keys.
This is rather interesting. Making something unique (and easy to use for the clueless Windows-oriented user) in this area is very hard. Mimiquing (how the hell do you spell that?) something somewhat familiar to everyone is a little bit easier. And I think both KDE and GNOME have done a good job at that.
Now that that’s cleared up, I have to say I agree with you. Some ways of doing things are just logical, like stairs. Did someone in the Far East have to copy someone in Europe on the best way to get to the second floor, or is it just basic intelligence? Even though Windows was out years before KDE, the similarities end at the logical layout.
KDE is much more adaptable than Windows will ever be. Multiple panels, vertical & horizontal expansion with one click, virtual desktops, just to name a few. So yes, I agree with you that KDE is not copying windows beyond a superficial look.
>The fact that KDE has a taskbar by default at the end of the screen, does not make it “a Windows”.
No, but it’s not exactly something you’ve never seen before. I think KDE looks and behaves a lot like Windows (from a screenshot point of view), not that there is anything negative about that. But it does look like a Windows clone.
Look, I went to the Lycoris website. Went through the numerous pages with shots of the desktop (the whole tour seems really complete). It looks and seems to function 90% like Windows. I am sure there are some differences, improvements etc. But boy they sure look like they provide the same thing, more or less.
I am not saying this as a criticism of Linux or any of these mainstream desktop-oriented distributions. I am asking: what basic functionality does Windows provide that is not provided by Linux?
I said: > But isn’t a Linux server doing the same thing as a Windows server?
Eugenia said: Isn’t an OSX server does the same as a Windows server? What do you mean?
I didn’t mean anything. I am asking a question.
Based on what I know, OS X server is doing the same thing as a Linux or Windows server. Except I think it will do apple-style filesharing in addition to unix and windows-style filesharing. And I heard it has nice GUI frontends for administration and so on (don’t know because it’s not a product I would buy).
Look, maybe Linux is better than windows in terms of flexibility and so on. I am not questioning Linux.
My question to MS is: if what you are selling for a lot of money is replaceable with something equal or better that is free, then what value are you providing for your customers?
Very simple, hardware and plugin support.
You should also consider this:
Even if people start switching to Linux desktops (either because they want to or because their boss said so) a lot of them will still want/need to use Windows, either because they like it better or because they have to use it at work or because that’s what most internet cafe’s have, or because that’s what their significant other has — you get the picture.
In my case, I use Linux at home and Windows at work. While I like exotic windows managers such as WindowMaker or whatever, on my Linux machine at home I have settled for window manager settings that emulate windows. Why? Because it makes the home->work->home->… transition trivial.
Keep in mind that I had been using Unix machines 4 years before I first used a Windows machine. I.e. I’m not intimidated by non windows UI paradigms. Still, I opted for the windows paradigm, because it works reasonably well (not as well as the Mac of course) and because I avoid the constant UI switching.
Eh, the only thing that matters is that I love Gnome2 and where they are headed, and I love what Red Hat did to the desktop 🙂
Man, I can’t wait for Gnome2.2 in january of something like that 🙂 (more applications G-HIG compliant should give linux on the desktop a nice usability boost)
>Still, I opted for the windows paradigm, because it works reasonably well (not as well as the Mac of course) and because I avoid the constant UI switching.
I guess Lindows/Lycoris/Xandros must be for you then:-)
I guess Lindows/Lycoris/Xandros must be for you then:-)
Well, Xandros maybe because I like the ease of maintenance that comes with Debian and apt-get. I’m currently using Libranet which is derived from Debian but is a lot easier to install.
Well, I don’t really need *all* the Windows’ bells and whistles, just the taskbar, switching windows with Alt+TAB, minimize, maximize, close-window buttons on the left side etc. The basic stuff.
I’ve never tried that Libranet, but heard good things about it. But then, every Debian based distro you hear good thing about:-)
I agree with you about the keyboard shortcuts. Alt+TAB is a must (for switching home->work->home) and Alt+Arrows or something for the virtual desktops.
When I installed SuSe on my homebuilt Athlon, all my hardware and USB peripherals were recognized. Same thing when I put it on my Thinkpad 560x.
I am no Linux guru so I assume window (at least 98) might recognize more stuff, but the hardware and plugin support for Linux seems to be adequate.
It seems like MS is just collecting rent right now. Windows is a linga france with lots of software, drivers,etc. created by people besides MS.
Maybe MS will change and offer something new. Oh, wait a minute, there’s an easier way out. Copy Apple!!
Oh shit, that means we need to make hardware. MS is in a pickle.
not linga france.
Correction, MS can still copy parts of apple that linux doesn’t have. Quartz and well-integrated apps.
Indeed, Billy Boy said something like the line between the OS and the apps was going to blur in Longhorn.
But open source can copy quartz and iMovie, etc. too. What role is MS to play?
The only thing nobody can copy is Apple’s hardware/software integration (except IBM and Sun).
“The only thing nobody can copy is Apple’s hardware/software integration (except IBM and Sun).”
.. because both companies seem pretty much into Linux these days. I’m sure what SUN is trying to offer with their Linux-initiative is a well integrated package with good hardware/software-integration that just works, and from a well known manufacturer of what is thought to be quality products.
No way, I can’t live without a taskbar unless they make something more covinient then the taskbar
Linux will maybe conquer the desktop, maybe not, but it will always be a sub-par OS, because of the way it’s developed. Regardless of the kernel updates and the changes for change’s sake, there are problems with the Linux librarie’s constant fluctuations. Of course, for people used to DLL hell this may seem acceptable. However, if you used a real OS like Solaris, for example, you would feel rather disappointed if your application will break due to an update to libc, for example. Of course, this happens everywhere, in every OS, but in Linux it seems congenital.
But at this time I have came to realize that not the technologically superior products are the ones to thrive in the market. Often times it’s the shittier ones, and Linux being the shittier out there, it has a good chance of being the successor of Windows.
This is why red hat has said it is lengthening it’s release cycle (especially for the desktop verson) to about once every 1.5 to 2 years…
to provide a stable target for developers, others are also starting to realize this as well
//My question to MS is: if what you are selling for a lot of money is replaceable with something equal or better that is free, then what value are you providing for your customers?//
I just don’t think Linux will ever make a noticeable dent (i.e., more than 10%) in the desktop marketshare.
The minute they got close, MS would drop the prices on Windows like a Tiger Woods does a two-foot putt. Game over.
Anyway…what does MS provide for customers?
1. Familiar and workable GUI across all applications
2. Ease of use (linux users, be sure to tell Gramma to vi her /etc/fstab to make sure her new dvd-rom shows up.)
3. Tons more *useful* programs
4. Hundreds of hardware devices that work instantly, 98.99% of the time
5. Much better tech support
6. How about copy-n-paste between disparate applications? Why is this nigh impossible in KDE/GNOME?
7. Office-home-office seamless integration (unattainable with OpenOffice/Star Office, unless you’re using 4th-grade-level spreadsheets and documents).
8. Damn near 100% stability (my particular XP install hasn’t flaked out *once* in seven months).
9. Did I mention the applications?
10. The ability to walk up to nearly *any* Windows PC, and instantly set to work. Try that across 1000 Linux installs, and you’ll see 984 different setups.
No beef from me *against* Linux, but I just don’t see it ever making big strides on the desktop. It sure has a place in the server space, though.
My 2 cents.
My question was what functionality Windows provided that Linux does not. And I meant the OS. If all MS is doing is living off the fact that there’s this whole universe of Windows apps and windows compatible hardware, then they are just collecting rent.
Tech support? You only get what you pay for here and I am assume Red Hat or others will provide it for a price.
Office-home-office seamless integration? What if your employer gives you a free copy of open office to take home.
The ability to walk up to nearly *any* Windows PC, and instantly set to work? Well, what if the Linux distro looks exactly like windows?
Ease of use – it sounds like these windows look alike distros are there or damn close.
Familiar and workable GUI across all applications? As a mac user primarily, I am not sure this one is even true.
As the company celebrates its tenth anniversary, SuSE plans to introduce version 2 of its system admin tool YaST (Yet Another Setup Tool)[…]
I thought YaST2 was long already released?
appleforever: The thing that amazes me about these mainstream desktop-oriented Linux distibutions is how much they provide the functionality of Windows. How much they look, talk and squawk like Windows.
Hmmm, look at http://ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/distributions/contrib/texstar/screensh… and honestly tell me if it looks anything like Windows. Yeah, small players like Lycoris, ELX and Xandros may clone Windows… but non of the article focuses on them.
appleforever: It sounds the same on the server side. Maybe one is faster one day, the other the next day. But isn’t a Linux server doing the same thing as a Windows server?
LOL, you got to be kidding. Windows server is very different from Linux server. Linux server is more akin to UNIX than to Windows.
appleforever: Same with Openoffice and MS Office. OK, I know there is a problem with file format capability, but if the whole world switched to Openoffice, what would be lost?
Tonnes of money lost of reeducation programs, tonnes of productivity lost due to lack of features.
appleforever: When there is a free version of what you are selling for a lot of money, what value are you providing for your customers?
By adding lots of value to the product. If I didn’t like Office, I would rather buy StarOffice than OOo? Why? Better fonts, more professional touch, better documentation, better support, extra features etc.
appleforever: MS-DOS they bought from someone.
Hmmm, Apple bought OS X from NeXTstep. Big deal.
Besides, innovative is pretty subjective. To some, it is not innovative. To others, it is the most innovative thing they have saw. Comparing two companies innovativeness is also a bad idea, as you tend to look more at one company’s innovation than the other because one company’s so-call innovation directly affects you.
stelios: No, but it’s not exactly something you’ve never seen before. I think KDE looks and behaves a lot like Windows (from a screenshot point of view), not that there is anything negative about that. But it does look like a Windows clone.
If KDE default looks like a Windows clone… I don’t know, maybe BeOS is a NeXT clone. Looking at the screenshot can pretty much tell you the two UIs are very different, and using it tells you even more that it is different. Yeah, the Kicker looks a little like the Taskbar, but it doesn’t make it a Windows clone.
appleforever: Look, I went to the Lycoris website. Went through the numerous pages with shots of the desktop (the whole tour seems really complete). It looks and seems to function 90% like Windows.
Wow, thanks for judging ALL Linux desktop distros by one made by a company manned by 4-5 people, and doesn’t have a significant amount of market share.
applerforever: My question to MS is: if what you are selling for a lot of money is replaceable with something equal or better that is free, then what value are you providing for your customers?
Lets see…. some patented technology (like ClearType), tonnes of Windows applications, tonnes of IE plugins, tonnes of hardware drivers.
stelios: I guess Lindows/Lycoris/Xandros must be for you then:-)
Uhmmm, I don’t know. Lindows doesn’t *looks* nor *acts* like Windows.
appleforever: When I installed SuSe on my homebuilt Athlon, all my hardware and USB peripherals were recognized. Same thing when I put it on my Thinkpad 560x.
You probably choose a lot of generic/famous hardware for your home-built Athlon machine, plus most Thinkpads nowadays are Linux-compatible. The rest have an incompatible modem and probably a soundcard…
But Linux doesn’t have as many drivers as Windows have.
appleforever: Correction, MS can still copy parts of apple that linux doesn’t have. Quartz and well-integrated apps.
Quartz may be a good idea. But well-integrated apps would get Microsoft in deeper hot soup. (Besides, the iApps you are so proud of isn’t integrated with the OS).
appleforever: But open source can copy quartz and iMovie, etc. too. What role is MS to play?
There is something like Quartz, called Fresco. But a direct, or almost direct clone of Quartz is impossible because of the patents issue. Same with iMovie.
I was really — at least partly – asking a question here. I don’t know that much about Linux, particularly servers. I asked what functionality windows and office provides that Linux and open/star office don’t provide.
So far, the answers I have been getting have been focused on: there’s a lot of apps, drivers for windows. I don’t hear much about extra functionality that windows/office (the MS-made stuff) provides compared to Linux alternatives.
It just seems to me that Windows is a lingua franca and MS is just collecting rent. Kinda like someone owning the English language and charging everytime you write a letter.
//It just seems to me that Windows is a lingua franca and MS is just collecting rent. Kinda like someone owning the English language and charging everytime you write a letter.//
Okay. So. Hmm. Got it.
So what? If you don’t like the landlord, you don’t have to live in his apartment complex. If you don’t want to pay the fictional “language tax” you could always aprende el espanol.
If you’re tired of Microsoft (not you in particular), use another platform. Just don’t complain when you can’t *seamlessly* share files with most other PC users.
Is about *mindshare* just as much as *marketshare*. People (at least in the USA) grow up using PCs, most likely with MS software. So, they usually have no problem continuing to pay Microsoft to use their software.
It’s just not that expensive. I’ve spend $220 over the past *three years* on MS products, including XP Home, Windows ME, and Office 97. That’s like $6 a month.
I (and most home PC users) can afford that.
It’s organizations (not individual consumers like you) that have the incentive to move to a cheaper building down the street that provides the same thing. Whether you pay $25 or $225 is not going to make or break you. But companies go away if their costs are too high and then they get underbid by competitors. Other organizations like schools and governments are always under tight budgetary contraints.
But even for consumers, if you can go to walmart and buy a lindows PC that browses the web, does email, chat, mp3s, basic document production, even downloads and edits digital photos, etc. for $500 and the cheapest windows PC is $700, then are you so sure that people won’t go for the $500 PC? When it “looks” exactly like windows? When it’s not the best arguably, but “good enough” to them? Isn’t that how windows beat the mac in terms of market share (“good enough and cheaper”) even though many would say the mac was technically better?
I think MS realizes the jig is up and the past five years or so of extracting $$ for borderline “upgrades” is over. They need to provide more value for their customers. I think they are going to try. I just think it’s going to be hard because providing something beyond standard existing technology is not their forte, not their existing business model.
Does the MS world of software work “seamlessly” with each other, or would it be more accurate to say that it’s designed to be “incompatible” with other platforms? I think MS customers would be happy if MS would adopt more open standards (they have not been totally against this, but there’s still too much enforced incompatibility). Isn’t it about making your customers happy? Well, not exactly. It’s about making money.
You know, MS is not the devil. They are doing what’s in their shareholders’ interests. It’s just that what’s in the MS shareholders’ interests (ownership of the english language of the PC world) is not in their customers’ and the public’s interest anymore. Maybe it was for a time but not anymore.
And the divergence of interests is even stronger overseas as lots of countries would like to stop sending money to the US of A.
… while also subjecting themselves to national security problems (China doesn’t want the CIA walking down to Redmond and being able to shut down their whole computer infrastructure if the U.S and China are at odds in the future.)
It’s funny, I read the other day that the real power of unix was not so much it’s technical abilities (though I am sure these are good), but just the fact that it’s a common language that nobody owns.
But microprocessors were thrust upon the seen and caused an explosion nobody predicted. In the melee, MS walked out with something very valuabe (ownership of the common language of PCs). It’s too valuable for one company to own. Going back to unix just seems like a hell of a lot better way to go and we may be seeing it happen before our eyes
The cheapest Windows PC sold on the Web I saw is $500. You can build you own for around $250 if you like too.
The problem is that MANY people can’t do their work on Linux, and that’s why Linux isn’t considered a major threat by Microsoft now.
This isn’t just because of third party software, but OS features. For example, until recently with OS X 10.2, Windows had the best audio support than any workstation OS. In fact, even with OS X 10.2, I still think Windows is king of the hill in this regard. Another example is gaming. No other OS have a gaming API as good or better than DirectX, for example.
Well, it does not seem that XP has very much built-in as far as audio or midi. (Though the same was true of OS 9, even more so). That’s why steinberg and others had to augment the OS’s with ASIO, VST, etc. (XP did have better built-in midi support than mac though until os x). Also, I know people are writing music apps for linux. But honestly I don’t know how much functionality they provide, or how much linux is missing.
I don’t know whether DirectX is better than Open GL. Probably it is because it’s more commonly used (I assume), but aren’t there some games for Linux and don’t they use Open GL. (These are questions, not arguments rajan, I don’t know much about this).
You know, it may seem like I’m beating up on MS. Actually, I’m starting to feel for them. They have done a lot of good things and they deserve to make a lot of $$. I just wish they weren’t so focused on “lock in” as part of their business model.