Home > Linux > Linux Finally Ready for Prime Time Linux Finally Ready for Prime Time Submitted by Antarius 2002-11-01 Linux 30 Comments “The only thing I regret — and, unfortunately, I predicted this would happen — is that the manufacturers of various competing forms of Linux have become as money-hungry as those they used to despise.” Read the editorial at OSOpinion. About The Author Eugenia Loli Ex-programmer, ex-editor in chief at OSNews.com, now a visual artist/filmmaker. Follow me on Twitter @EugeniaLoli 30 Comments 2002-11-01 12:29 am that’s why we have the GPL. 2002-11-01 12:36 am that’s why we have the GPL. And noncommercial distros. Debian, Gentoo, LFS, etc. etc. FWIW, Slackware, while a commercial distro, doesn’t seem money-grubbing. The author doesn’t provide a whole lot of evidence for his conclusions there, but I understand how he got there. It doesn’t mean that he’s right. 🙂 He did make an interesting point about Linux becoming the standard on servers…..I’ve found that this is becoming more and more true. Ask what a sysadmin is running on his servers, still about 50% of the time it’s NT and IIS (for intranets and the like). But lately I’ve heard quite a few more Linux and a few more FreeBSD. 2002-11-01 12:42 am Geezus, I’m so sick of this .. these same people were telling us Linux was ‘ready for prime time’ back when color text installs in Slackware were considered to be a luxury item … “But now, with Lindows 3.0 and SuSE Linux 8.1 looming in our future, promising to make installation easier and boasting crossover compatibility with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows, Linux may have finally broken through to the mainstream.” Installation has been easy for quite awhile, but compatibility with Windows only goes so far, which is the biggest problem. When you say ready for ‘the mainstream’, you are talking about a mainstream that is completely imersed in Windows. So the short end of it goes, if it works in Windows (be it either hardware or software), it better work in Linux. Sure, you’ve got alternatives for web browsing, email, etc, but do you have alternatives for all of the $10-$40 ‘Fisher Price’ apps currently polluting the isles of CompUSA, that Joe User is probably going to want at some point in time? “The only thing I regret — and, unfortunately, I predicted this would happen — is that the manufacturers of various competing forms of Linux have become as money-hungry as those they used to despise.” I don’t know if anyone has ever despised ‘money-hungry’ companies besides the hackers that originally put together Linux, or those that are now helping for the ‘revolution’. The companies you are seeing now producing commercial distros want to be just like the money-hungry companies that YOU despise. “They have produced versions of the open source OS that are incompatible with each other. There are also programs that will run on Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) that won’t run on SuSE or Mandrake, and so on. ” Of course, you’re right … this is what is called going commercial. Linux zealots have always had wet dreams about how wonderful life would be if Linux were to get more of the marketshare, but didn’t take into consideration that Linux would have to be completely ruined and dumbed down to be AOL look-alike for this to happen. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting closer. Notice how slow your newest whiz bang desktop enviroment is starting to feel? Fading menus, drop shadows … yup, feeel the bloat, my friends! Of course, people would argue that since Linux is GPL, it can’t be turned commercial – HA! The GPL stuff is only a foundation for companies to come along and put all of their commercial crap on top of it. “Since Linux is an open source operating system, you can write your own code to solve any problems you may have.” Sure, tell that to Joe User .. I’m sure he’ll get right on it. “Alternatively, you likely can find solutions to your problems in any of several hundred Linux newsgroups or bulletin boards.” LOL …… hehe ….. LMAO!! That’s funny “Linux takes up much less space on the server than other operating systems, and it requires less overhead (processing power and memory) to run.” Of course, ya gotta know … anyone who starts talking about Linux becoming easy enough for the mainstream (and I’m guessing he’s referring to desktop use here), they have to go on and on about how well it runs on the server and/or how wonderful apache is, as if that really mattered in this context. 2002-11-01 12:44 am I think the author’s point is that “Linux Finally Ready for Prime Time” through the big Linux commercial companies like Red Hat/SuSE/Mandrake and not through Slackware or Gentoo. He sees a commercialization of Linux via these companies and the fact that there are still “free” Linux distros out there does not change the fact that Linux is making it big via these big companies and not via Gentoo or Slackware or Debian. There is always the “danger” that Windows users who would like to switch to Linux are more likely to get hooked to these commercial linux distros (because they have good specific tools and because they have real marketing), and not to the really free ones. This indeed can be an issue for the old believers. 2002-11-01 12:56 am Nothing pleases me more than seeing these companies trying to make profits. Remember BeOS? They didn’t make a profit. Remeber Amiga? They didn’t make a profit. That’s just 2 good products that are now reduced to hobby OSs. There’s lots more – guess what a common factor is? No profit = bellyup. Before roasting the Linux companies, just ask yourself if you want them to be contributing to Linux in 5-10 years time. Unless they are making profits, they won’t be there. What I love about the Linux movement is that I can download free the latest copy of any of those distributions. Hardly the actions of rapacious capitalists, eh? 2002-11-01 12:56 am “The only thing I regret — and, unfortunately, I predicted this would happen — is that the manufacturers of various competing forms of Linux have become as money-hungry as those they used to despise.” yep What they would do well to recognise that Linux is like a three legged chair. It’s appeal rests on low to no price, our last best chance at real open standards, free to customize, bug fix,and use as the USER/CUSTOMER sees fit. Doing anything to weaken these and you may very well knock the seat from under Tux and send him flying onto his marinebird kieister. Especially price… cos when you are going up against Ineria and The Beast that is Microsoft you have to be very alluring. I realize Linux companies have to survive but we are nowhere near the point where they can get giddy with Linux’s success and start getting overly greedy. A much cheaper price than the competiton will have to remain one of the main weapons ( yes ,we are at war ) in the Tux arsenal for a long time to come. Finally remember this. Linux is free as in speech, sometimes as in Beer, but always, always , must be free as in “..of hassle”. 2002-11-01 12:57 am thought right now we are beginning the discussions on how to put it together…we are focused on making all the apps have a uniform look and feel, and perhaps make a bluecurve type interface to make kde and gnome look the same. we want good integration as well. we want a user friendly desktop system. hopefullly we can set up ower own development servers so we can take from Sid and have a testing and stable just for desktop debian..that way we can “fix” the apps so they work well with the desktop set up and we might be able to speed up the cycle so that new apps will enter stable faster than the main branch. as far as Linux will be shiped on all servers in the future…I can see that, though it wil come from the top down, from Mainframes/supercomputers/high end servers to the midrange and lowend 2002-11-01 1:07 am and it still didn’t cathc up with BeOS. Today I was reminded of how well the works in BeOS. “BeOS: it just works” 2002-11-01 1:34 am Personally, I think the author of this article is off base. In the Linux world, there are alternatives, and there is little possibility of lock-in in terms of the OS itself, thanks to the GPL. Thus, if one distribution becomes too money hungry, ala Microsoft, then it’s trivially easy to switch to an alternative, without losing compatibility with important software. And because the alternatives are volunteer run, Debian et al will always be there. As a last resort, there is always the chance to roll your own. Such is the power of open source. My personal biggest fear is the following: some company will come out with a closed-source “killer app” (ala the original Windows). Non-ideological users, not seeing the importance of Open Source, will flock to it, allowing the vendor to lock people into a proprietory product. That in itself isn’t so bad, people who allow themselves to be locked in made a concious decision. My fear is that this product employs some form of closed protocol or file format (ala Microsoft Office or AIM) that will affect all Linux users. Even if an open source replacement could be made (as exists for Office) people will stay with a closed product because of compatibility. Linux is in a very nice position right now. It has enough support from the commercial world to have a large degree of compatibility, yet is isolated enough that Free Software still reigns. That fact is important for a lot of people, and it’s important to respect that option. And don’t tell me that the actions of the majority can’t ruin things for the minority. It happens all the time in software and in real life. The majority, in its narrow world-outlook and entirely self-centered decision making process, allows corporations and the government to take away from everyone, including the minority. At least with stuff like movies or music, it’s easy for diverse interests to survive. Software, however is very different. The whole compatibility aspect makes it a huge amount of work to maintain an alternative. Because of that preventing lock-in requires even more vigilence from users. 2002-11-01 1:47 am ummmm of course? 2002-11-01 1:56 am But now, with Lindows 3.0 and SuSE Linux 8.1 looming in our future, promising to make installation easier and boasting crossover compatibility with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows, Linux may have finally broken through to the mainstream. Having CrossOver Office built into a Linux distribution (in Lindows case, something ripped off from it during their previous agreements) doesn’t mean thousands of US and EU customers would rush out to the streets and run to their stores and get packs of this Linux. This is a stagnanted market. People don’t want to spend unless they have a reason (read: getting away from the evil empire isn’t a reason). So why spend money just to get a OS that tries as much as possible to act like Windows? Besides, SuSE 8.1 has already been released, compatiblity with Windows apps isn’t one of its advertising features. Lindows.com is also downplaying Windows compatiblity and pushing CNR. The only thing I regret — and, unfortunately, I predicted this would happen — is that the manufacturers of various competing forms of Linux have become as money-hungry as those they used to despise. They have produced versions of the open source OS that are incompatible with each other. In most cases, THIS IS NOT MONEY HUNGRY. Otherwise distributions like yellow Dog Linux and Mandrake Linux wouldn’t have kept 100% binary compatiblity with Red Hat Linux. Each being incompatible with each other is mainly a technical fight, not a business one. For example, SuSE changes in the file system pleased a lot of Linux geeks that hate Red Hat for that very reason. Debian’s difference in technicallity also pushed it to the Top 10. In fact, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) has begun selling its own brand of computers running Lindows for less than US$200. Yeah, I didn’t know consumers go onto Wal Mart’s website to buy a consumer OS :-). Survey a bunch of consumers, ask them if they ever bought a computer from walmart.com. Most likely they would answer no. I suspect most of the people buying these machines are poor geeks or geeks just happy Wal Mart is making Linux machines. 1) It is less expensive to provide an open source operating system, such as Linux, than to install Windows 2000, XP or one of the various flavors of Unix. This is highly variable. In some cases, it is cheaper, in others it is more expensive. I notice you haven’t taken in account cost of services, third party software, distribution cost, support cost etc. 2) Since Linux is an open source operating system, you can write your own code to solve any problems you may have. Wow, a consumer dwelving into Linux kernel code and changing some times – there’s a thought. Alternatively, you likely can find solutions to your problems in any of several hundred Linux newsgroups or bulletin boards. Most of these places talk another language based on English: Geeklish. If any consumer manage to even find a solution to his/hers problems, I would have to salute him/her. 3) Linux takes up much less space on the server than other operating systems, and it requires less overhead (processing power and memory) to run. Yeah, in comparison with Windows. But what about NetBSD or FreeBSD…. oh, for the sake of it, OpenBSD? No benchmarks, nadda. You expect anyone to believe you? Besides, what does this have to do with the desktop? 4) There are now hundreds of business applications that can run on Linux, including office productivity suites from Sun and Corel (Nasdaq: CORL) . Corel has long discontinued WP Office, which is extremely slow BTW, being based on Wine. StarOffice is even more slower, and with UI widgets to look right at home in Windows 9x (which isn’t here on Linux). And, because it is an open source operating system, dozens of new apps are being developed every day. “Dozens” of new apps didn’t got developed because of Linux being open source. Plus, most of these mostly GPLed apps are alpha quality apps :-). Oh, and Windows don’t have freeware/shareware popping up all over? Now, we can all bury our heads in the sand and say we’d rather sink than switch, but the fact is that Linux will soon become the standard operating system for a majority of servers manufactured by the computer giants. So you start talking about the desktop and move towards the server? Amazing. 2002-11-01 2:07 am >> he only thing I regret — and, unfortunately, I predicted this would happen — is that the manufacturers of various competing forms of Linux have become as money-hungry as those they used to despise >> Its called growing up and getting real. How will these linux companies pay rent of office space? How will they pay their workers to work on linux and make it better? Money is always good, and more money for linux will only make linubetter. The only thing I regret is that none of this linux company has even broken even. NONE IS PROFITABLE YET. 2002-11-01 2:32 am “My personal biggest fear is the following: some company will come out with a closed-source “killer app” (ala the original Windows). Non-ideological users, not seeing the importance of Open Source, will flock to it, allowing the vendor to lock people into a proprietory product. That in itself isn’t so bad, people who allow themselves to be locked in made a concious decision. My fear is that this product employs some form of closed protocol or file format (ala Microsoft Office or AIM) that will affect all Linux users. Even if an open source replacement could be made (as exists for Office) people will stay with a closed product because of compatibility.” Ok, so what you’re saying is that if such a closed source killer app is released, what people should do instead of enjoying/using the app right away is to wait one or two years for the open source ‘community’ to build some half-assed concoction (as they normally do) of the original killer app with about half the features, and not even compatible with the original. And after that, we can sit around and listen to open source zealots talk about how superior their ‘alternative’ is, just because it isn’t proprietary. Suh, uhh …. where do I sign up ? 2002-11-01 2:32 am There is a difference between wanting money just for the sake of wanting money, and wanting money to continue a project. Contrary to popular belief, the first idea isn’t necessarily the “real world.” Whole groups of people work on projects (in the sciences or the arts) for nothing more than the advancement of their field. Many, many things have been accomplished without the benifet of money. Don’t get me wrong, money does have it’s place. But it’s not all about money, and getting that kind of attitude *is* damaging, regardless of what our current culture might say. 2002-11-01 2:34 am “So why spend money just to get a OS that tries as much as possible to act like Windows? ” becasue they want somthing that is less expensive and IS like windows. 2002-11-01 2:36 am I got something less expensive. Stick to what you have. 2002-11-01 3:39 am >I got something less expensive. Stick to what you have. Ok it is so funny how people get on this site and constantly banter about the idea that is sooo pro-linux. The vast majority of messages on this thread have been about how linux sucks. Well, there is a place for linux. There is even a place for linux on the desktop. However, if you want to move to linux just because you hate windows or think it is the cheap way out of licensing issues, then I got knews for you. You will not be happy. Stay with windows. This is a different OS. It will not act like Windows. You will have to figure out completely different ways of doing things. Therefore, you have to have an overwhelming reason to move. If you have an organization already using unix for web, mail, dns and other services. If you want your system engineers, programmers and other people working off the same basic platform they are developing for or working on every day, then get them linux boxes. Liberate the admins and programmers from the Exceed sessions so slow or going back and forth between a unix workstation and a windows box. The Osopinion comments are lame from the beginning. Linux is easier to use but no panacea especially for power users already use to the Windows way. My mom does not give a damn about the OS as long as she can get to the web and her email and a Wal-mart PC with linux is fine for this. However, the secretary down the hall can do things with documents that would take me half a day to do myself. She is an application power user and forcing her to another OS without an overwhelming reason is silly. You have an overwhelming reason for moving to a linux desktop for people who are already using a Unix OS every day at work. It eliminates redundancy, costs and gives these users better productivity. This is not the case for managers and office staff. Maybe one day there will be that killer app or that one overwhelming reason, but not today. I am tired of Linux reviews about “windows-killers” and people saying it “just works.” You need a good desktop for a Unix programmer, linux is good. You want a reliable inexpensive web, file, mail or DNS server then Linux is good. You want your manager to put together a project map based on your technical suggestions that they can present to their bosses. Keep that manager on his windows box. 2002-11-01 6:39 am > You want your manager to put together a project map based on your technical suggestions that they can present to their bosses. Keep that manager on his windows box. Problem with this solution is that PHB’s make the decisions at the end of the day. If all they see and work on is Windows, they’ll try to force it down everyone’s throat, either because they want to or because they tools they blindly choose to use ONLY work on Windows and they want you to review what they’re giving to the bosses. That’s a big part of what got us all into this MS mess to begin with. MS OS’s and software don’t play nicely with other. Just get rid of it across the board (the faster the better). 2002-11-01 8:04 am “That’s a big part of what got us all into this MS mess to begin with. MS OS’s and software don’t play nicely with other. Just get rid of it across the board (the faster the better).” And replace it with what, God’s gift to OS’s? Or a snazzy new iLamp? 2002-11-01 9:10 am It will be hard to get people shift to Linux in this market. And by “people” I mean the large majority, those who don’t care about GPL, opensource, the Linux kernel, Linux and his fellow kernelites ;o) or any otherLinux-attached ideology. People want, mostly, an OS they can use immediately. 2002-11-01 11:29 am How much did you pay to MS in the last 5 years Rajan? I paid nothing. 2002-11-01 12:52 pm Ok, this is the deal. Show the managers what they want to see, cost savings. Don’t be unrealistic. I love linux, BSD all things Nix-like. Still, don’t suggest the project manager goes off Windows suggest the Unix programmers, sysadmins, netadmins and DB admins go off Windows. What do they get. They can stop paying for solution like Exceed and such. They don’t have to upgrade their probably aging fleet of unix workstations. They get more productivity from users who are no longer living their life inside of a damn telnet ssh client window. He gets all the unix geeks off his back complaining about Mickeysoft. You have to do the homework. You have to have the install, and update plans. You have to show him the costs and the savings. You have to be realistic not a pie-in-the-sky evangelist. You have to understand about unix options for managing users like NIS, NFS mounted central home dirs, and Kickstart for a unified way of installing boxes. Even a manager can smell that over-the-top evangelistic crap out quicker than a buzzard can hunt down road kill. Don’t treat your manager like an idiot (not necessarily saying you do). I work in an environment where the Engineering group who work in Unix entirely are making the move slowly one developer at a time. Sometimes people still complain. They are used to their Exceed and Windows combo. Sometimes they are extremely happy. Sometimes, I think the best environment was where corporate IT had a check box for Unix based OS. If your manager checked that box, they brought down the PC and the linux CDs though you could use BSD if you had it. They had a little info sheet for DNS settings and mail account info and told the person to have at it. They got no desk-side support but people who choose to have linux did not need that support anyway. It was a choice. I liked that. 2002-11-01 1:57 pm Almost 90 % of distro$ want your money and give you just a new packed array of GNU software and new icons to go along with it. (A good exercise would be to compare RedHat prices with Microsoft’s Windows – street prices – and evalute the quality/price/innovation ratio). 2002-11-02 1:41 am I’ve never had any illusion that someday that linux would move into the position that Microsoft is today. SO what! The biggest difference between Microsoft and Linux is the fact you can create your OWN OS based on the linux distribution. The only difference between Microsoft and Linux that matters at all is the fact that Microsoft won’t allow you to see the code, Linux will! 2002-11-02 2:19 am Yes, they could switch to an ilamp. I bet many could switch to linux too. But the ilamp got the bonus that it runs a lot of the software most companies are using. Yes it doesnt run everything, but it runs a large subset of what many need. I don’t think i can mention a single piece of software, used at my workplace, that wouldn’t run on one. Well, i could, but not something that would be hard to replace. (it is entirely possible that there are some areas that does. I have no idea what they use in accounting for instance) If you wan’t examples of software that it can run, then here: ms office, most of (all?) adobes products, quark express, im sure there are more, but i don’ personally use one so i don’t know for sure. Would i like one myself? No way 🙂 But that doesn’t mean i have to run around and talk badly about it. Or maybe you just don’t know better? PS: It is pretty obvious by know what you think of linux. It would be nice if you said something new once in a while instead of repeating the same old things. It is getting quite old to see you bash linux. Feel free to say the same to any persistent pro or con anything person who keep saying the same thing over and over again. 2002-11-02 8:22 am “Now, we can all bury our heads in the sand and say we’d rather sink than switch, but the fact is that Linux will soon become the standard operating system for a majority of servers manufactured by the computer giants.” This sentence is only here to provoke flames. Not one shred of journalistic integrity… 2002-11-02 2:28 pm I don’t see any problem with these companies making money. I mean it costs time and money to support the OS and develop the installation programs etc. I feel that as long as there are free distributions available, and that there is Debian, why should you worry about how much Red Hat is making? This might be unsettling to authors that donate their time and efforts in wring software for Linux and then giving the source away, but they to could charge for the software and support as well. There is a disconnect here between people who write software and people who support software. I mean if a company has people on staff to provide tech support and also provide training classes, then shouldn’t they be allowed to make money? If there are some programs that are not open sourced with the distribution, is this a big crime? Not really in my mind. Real money can do wonders in getting the job done right. Dano. 2002-11-02 2:38 pm >>”Since Linux is an open source operating system, you can write your own code to solve any problems you may have.” >>Sure, tell that to Joe User .. I’m sure he’ll get right on it. This is true. I think that its funny how everyone is suppost to just know all of the workings of the kernel and do know C programming. I have been programming processors and controllers for years on a daily basis and I have never used C. You need to know C since most all source is in C, and you need to know the operating systems features, which could take piles of thick reference books to pile through. I mean you might be able to just buy a commercial app and be done with your problem. >>”Alternatively, you likely can find solutions to your >>problems in any of several hundred Linux newsgroups or >>bulletin boards.” >>LOL …… hehe ….. LMAO!! That’s funny If you don’t get flamed to death for asking a small question that the rest of the community knows. Or get the RTFM answer. It takes several nights just to find out which manual you should be reading?!? This after some other person in the newsgroup could tell you the answer in like 1 email reply. >>”Linux takes up much less space on the server than other >>operating systems, and it requires less overhead >>(processing power and memory) to run.” I don’t feel that this is true at all. Once you add on all of the bloatware that is needed in a modern OS, for appearance and conveinience, etc…Linux is just as big of a resource hog as Windows, and often is less responsive once you have it Really setup like you want it. >>Of course, ya gotta know … anyone who starts talking >>about Linux becoming easy enough for the mainstream (and >>I’m guessing he’s referring to desktop use here), they >>have to go on and on about how well it runs on the server >>and/or how wonderful apache is, as if that really >>mattered in this context. Funny because Joe Six Pack does not care about Apache. He is not going to serve sites of his machine and probably just uses a dial-up connection. So I see your point, and its a good one. Dano. 2002-11-02 4:08 pm Unlike Amiga (which actually died of corrupt practices) and Be (which actually died because of incompetence), Linux doesn’t need money for most of its development. A lot of the money invested in Linux (from Sun, HP, IBM) are by companies not making money directly off Linux. And they keep these Linux companies like Ximian, Red Hat and SuSE alive to do the dirty work. 2002-11-02 4:10 pm I can’t remember. Let’s see. Office XP and Windows XP came with the laptop, I bought Windows 2000 Pro retail… Age of Empires… that’s about it.