Editorial: Observations on Linux's Future

Linux's Future: Observations by a Linux user

Having been inspired by the Neowin original two-part article, "Microsoft's Future" by Max Majewski (part one and part two), I decided that a look at where Linux stands now, and what the future may hold for it.

In 1991, Linux was created with a announcement on a Minix Usenet group by Finnish student Linus Torvalds, stating that he was looking for feedback on a free operating system he was developing. A following started, and people began to submit code back for inclusion into the project. The hobby grew legs of its own and, over the years, turned into the powerhouse community that it is today. Large corporations rely on Linux. Businesses make money selling Linux services. Linux is starting to make an appearance almost everywhere.

A bird's eye view of the penguin.
Let's start by looking at where Linux is strong, and where it needs improvement. I am going to exclude boring technical aspects from this list. This is a list of things that affect marketability and suitability. While the advantages of ext4 over ext3 may be a topic some find interesting, if it reads/writes a FAT removable media, the world is happy and could not care less about ext filesystems.

Strengths:

  • The GNU Public License (GPL) is second only to BSD-style license in giving developers freedom; it is first for keeping code free for all.
  • Scalable from embedded http://www.linuxfordevices.com/c/a/News/Li...rnet-connector/ to supercomputing where it is hard to find any in the Top500 list that aren't running Linux.
  • Customizibility. One word says a lot. It is not only designed to be modular, but the source code is freely available to be modified by anyone to meet their needs. Of the "big three" OSes out there, Linux has this one hands-down.
  • Linux is not tied to any specific architecture. If a piece of hardware has a CPU, chances are it can run Linux. A manufacturer isn't going to be tied into a specific subset of hardware in making their product.
Weaknesses:
  • The license. For all its strengths, the GPL can cause headaches for those uncertain of developer responsibilities. If a developer chooses to leverage and use GPL code in their projects, they can find themselves surprised that they have run afoul of the GPL terms. The FSF actively pursues those who violate the GPL to enforce their copyright, and requires them to change their code to remove the GPL violations or to comply with the license and release any GPL-licensed code they used and/or modified.
  • An abundance of variety tends to confuse people who don't know what they are after, and what the different options provide. That is, most people new to Linux can find the choices overwhelming.
  • No real "marketing" or "P.R." department. Red Hat speaks for Red Hat. The FSF speaks only of what concerns them. While IBM had aired some "Linux" commercials on television a few years ago, it is no longer creating ads that solely focus on Linux, as the "Prodigy" ad did.
  • There is a lot of "trend following" in Linux. While there are good ideas and implementations in Linux, it was first created as a clone. To this day, it still attempts to implement features that exist elsewhere. As Eric S. Raymond (often known as 'esr', his initials) stated, it is about scratching that personal itch. Developers code what helps or interests them.

Where are the markets today?
Supercomputing is currently a solid Linux win. There aren't many competitors at all, and if you pick out 30 random entries, chances are they will all be Linux. It will take a supercomputing paradigm shift to knock Linux out of this niche market.

Embedded devices such as GPS units, routers and Digital TV Recorders often use Linux as their OS. This market is much more levelled, with Linux competing actively with Microsoft Windows, VxWorks and others. It is hard to find good reliable numbers, as it seems that different survey groups have different criteria they use when they classify something as "embedded" or not. As this market is generally populated with low-cost devices, licensing costs are an increasingly large percentage of OEM expense in making the product. Any OS that has a zero for cost and license tracking requirements holds an advantage here. Google's Chrome OS is a browser/OS platform that seems to be designed for a cloud or thin client environment. More on that a little later. For embedded devices, Linux is in this market to stay for the foreseeable future, even if it isn't the dominant player.

Mobile (communications/phone) devices are a specialized (and growing!) form of embedded devices. The LiMo Foundation formed in 2007 so various mobile phone OEMs could work together for a common goal. However, a dark horse has put the LiMo Foundation on shaky ground, and may push it to the irrelevancy of an also-ran. And that specter is Google with their Android platform. Also based on Linux, but from outside LiMo, it is surrounded by buzz, and seems to be growing at an impressive pace. The pizazz and polish that has been applied to the Linux GUI by Google seems to be just what the market is seeking. Google is allowing others to use the Android platform, while also releasing their own Google-branded phone using Android. This direction is potentially walking a line that could irritate the Android licensees, as was brought up by Microsoft. As long as Google isn't seen by the the other OEMs as taking unfair advantage of their position as developer of Android, I think that there should not be the dire fallout. Nokia may be warming up to Linux, but they are not yet abandoning their leading Symbian, with newest roadmaps including multi-touch and UI revamping.

In the server market, Linux has been strong. Yet, much of the gains here have been in takeovers from other Unix installations. Even several of Microsoft's now-defunct "Get the Facts" (renamed to "windowsserver/compare" ) case studies are not people switching, but shops that have already run Windows deciding to keep running Windows. Unix was the server leader. Microsoft is currently in the marketshare lead, but I see Linux continuing to erode the Unix market more than Windows does, and being a major contender in the market. It is so easily deployed by small and medium businesses, and it isn't something that can be tracked with certainty, due to the licensing freedoms to install "at will". The sales of Red Hat Linux subscriptions have risen, especially during the economic downturn, and their earnings beat expectations again.

Virtualization is becoming increasingly relevant. Once found only in the domain of high end server rooms, it is now becoming a common tool for home enthusiasts on desktop PCs. I think it is safe to say that the popularity of virtualization will continue to grow. The question is, who delivers? Well, both Linux and Windows do. And once again, the advantage that Linux has in licensing has caused Microsoft to relax their restrictions to make virtualizing Windows more appealing. Microsoft will not give up this sub-market easily. If Linux continues a strong presence, as I expect, this will drive a more intense competition.

When it comes to desktops the question is less "Should I use Linux?", and more, "What is Linux?". Until recently, Linux users had to install it themselves. A few PC OEMs toyed with Linux pre-installs, most of them making the pages hard to find. A disruptive force arrived recently with the advent of the "netbook". A diminutive PC with meager specs and a lower price tag. Like the "embedded" market, above, OS costs are a more significant portion of product cost. Linux took a strong lead, until Microsoft made their older XP product available at reduced pricing. Despite Steve Ballmer's spinning of netbook marketshare as by eliminating whole markets and distribution methods to claim a over 90% share, the truth is closer to 32% of netbooks have Linux. However, Windows is so entrenched into the OEM PC vendors, that even the Dell Mini page with the Ubuntu OS prominently displays "Dell recommends Windows 7" at the top of their page. Or it could be the discounts that Microsoft provides by contractually requiring them to display that message on their PC sales pages. This shows that the entry path for home Linux is rather steep. One could say that Linux desktop marketshare has doubled from 2005 to today, but the reality is that the doubling was from 0.5% to 1.0% of the web-browsing market (which is about the only real way to measure how much of a marketshare Linux may have, since it isn't acquired or licensed from any sort of centralized organization. Even if it doubles again in 5 years, that will only put it at 2%.

However, desktop computing, itself, may be changing. Computers aren't all "desktops" any more. They are mobile. Very mobile. And they are often taken mobile! So-called "cloud" computing is casting a few shadows on the traditional desktop paradigm. And, like shadows, they may be seen as somewhat lacking solid substance at this point. One can consider this a "what was old is new again" situation, as it is similar to the "thin client" of the past. The client computers aren't given the computing horsepower that is typical in a desktop, as the action is taking place remotely in the more powerful servers, and displayed on the clients. The current "cloud" implementation does give the clients more power, as they can run apps locally, and the cloud is more about data accessibility from multiple locations and PCs. The apps may be (but are not required to be) local on the client, but the data is remote. As an anecdote, my kids play online games. The games are typically Flash or Java based. They are often single-player, but some are MMO. When they have friends over, sometimes they use my PC. My PC is Linux. Yet, the kids that come over don't need training. They navigate Xubuntu's interface and open Firefox and go to their sites and the app (game) is served to the computer and runs locally. They log in and play with each other. The Flash and Java apps are small, and are executed locally, but the data is saved on the servers. The same concept is being used for photo sharing, photo editing, office applications, and more. These are the applications that comprise the "everyday use" for a large number of PC users, and here is where Google is going to try to enter and encourage market growth in this direction with their Chrome OS based devices. Accessing email through a browser is already common, and it shows how convenient it is to use the cloud for your data. Away from home and using someone else's computer? No problem! Just login. Get a new PC? Again, your data is as easily accessed from your new PC as it was from your old. And it doesn't get lost if your harddrive heads crash into the platter, peeling spirals of magnetic media off the surface. However, the cloud is still vulnerable to the data being lost from the server, as in the T-Mobile contact loss. Incidents like these should be more infrequent, if companies look at this as a learning experience. T-Mobile didn't have a good backup before making a system upgrade.

What has been unsaid.
Note that three items I did not bring up are cost, stability or security. While Linux is obtainable for free, that has never been the feature that the FSF promotes (though many users and individuals will bring this up as an important point in their opinion). In fact, the GPL specifically provides for charging for distributing and copying Linux, and calls it out as a protected right under the GPL.

Stability and security are two other items often promoted by various users. Indeed Linux is stable and secure. But so is a properly configured Windows or OSX install. And improper administration, or adding in buggy (beta or just poorly-written) code will compromise any OS. Quite frankly, I don't see these items as strengths to any particular OS at all.

The future...
Linux is strong in so many markets. Yet, the market most visible to the average consumer, the desktop, has eluded a Linux presence, for the most part. Is it because Linux is complex? No, not really. Using Linux is much like using Windows. My kids' friends have no problems using my PC. Administering Linux is quite a bit different, though. And that is what people are really saying when they talk about "using Linux is complex". But being different or new does not make it more complex. Alas, that is likely a topic for a different time and place.

If cloud computing becomes more popular, it will make the OS running a bit less relevant. Apps can run remotely. Some are delivered to the client from the server. These Java, Flash and even, to some extent, Silverlight web-based apps are cross-platform. This is a good environment for Linux.

Linux is strong and is safe from extinction.

This is a guest post by Neowin Veteran Mark Jensen

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Interesting article, food for thought. Being we're talking open source, I'll add my five eggs.

If manufacturers are to be believed, Linux PC are returned in far greater quantities than those running MSFT. Manufacturers are generally not keen on selling Linux PC's - though the Linux offerings are often (deliberately) appalling versions.

The future of Linux will depend on what China produces. China have been given all the secrets and technology to manufacture EVERYTHING! Their home market is their future, as America goes into deeper and deeper decline. They have the people to develop their own software (doubtlessly from open source). Some of their gadgets are very poor, but this will change. Their prices (when exported) will be keen for many years to come, and consumers in the west will want to pay less and less, as western wages equalise with poorer countries.

Western companies have sold their soul's (and technology) to the developing countries. Jobs are never coming back. I can see nothing that will change this. The fact is if we survive the next century, it belongs to China. Rich nations of Europe and North America are in for tough times.

boho said,
Interesting article, food for thought. Being we're talking open source, I'll add my five eggs.

If manufacturers are to be believed, Linux PC are returned in far greater quantities than those running MSFT. Manufacturers are generally not keen on selling Linux PC's - though the Linux offerings are often (deliberately) appalling versions.

The future of Linux will depend on what China produces. China have been given all the secrets and technology to manufacture EVERYTHING! Their home market is their future, as America goes into deeper and deeper decline. They have the people to develop their own software (doubtlessly from open source). Some of their gadgets are very poor, but this will change. Their prices (when exported) will be keen for many years to come, and consumers in the west will want to pay less and less, as western wages equalise with poorer countries.

Western companies have sold their soul's (and technology) to the developing countries. Jobs are never coming back. I can see nothing that will change this. The fact is if we survive the next century, it belongs to China. Rich nations of Europe and North America are in for tough times.

Except for one problem that the Chinese (either in the People's Autocracy of China OR the ROC) still have yet to satisfactorily tackle - marketing.

While the Asian countries are good at creating low-priced, and often high-quality, products, they cannot market well. Often that aspect is left to the Americans (for Western Hemisphere sales) or Europe (for EU sales).

Thing is, the EU (and now the US) are realizing this, and are starting to tack on *content provisions* that force the inclusion of so much *domestic content*, which gets them out of the low-priced space that they have been succeeding at.

The targets for cheap goods won't remain willing targets forever.

too bad the future part was a paragraph for an article about linux's future.. The context took almost all of the article. lol is there going to be a second part ?
imo the aversion to linux in consumer space is because people have gotten used Windows and are too lazy apathetic to try anything new .
Even then, Linux is used as secondary OS in the form of SplashTop by HP, Asus (even their motherboards come with this OS/feature)or Dell latitudes instant on OS running on a ARM based subsystem while the OS loads. Intel's moblin is a linux too that could catch up with moorestown platform.. just pointing out that cloud implementation is not the only way linux can progress in consumer space

Thank you, all of you, for your comments. Both the thanks and for posting observations that show differing viewpoints.

Discussion is good.

I do not agree with your assessment that the GPL is a weakness. The problem isn't with the GPL lisence, it is with lisences that are not compatible with freedom for the user and developer alike.

I use GNU/Linux not just because it is free in terms of money/cost, but in terms of the freedom it provides me.

I see quite a few attacks against the free software movement that are carried out in a very subtle manor. Those who want to take away your freedom always focus on the cost and ignore the freedom aspects of free software, this is of course on purpose.

The arguements are always that there is too much choice and that confuses the consumer. There are too many distributions, too many programs, if people just united they could become a monolith to unseat Microsoft. What a load of rubbish.

So what we end up with is another monopoly, drastically fewer choices. This is not what we need. Free softwares strength is in it's diversity and unwillingness to be dominated.

Too often now people are becoming intellectual light weights. They are not willing to think or investigate the choices that are out there and limit themselves to a narrow path set out for them by someone else. People are becoming like cattle and it makes me sick and afraid for our future.

I would hope that free software continues to proliferate, offering a staggering variety of choice to make our heads spin in wonder. That it makes us investigate and think about the choices we make.

It is odd that those who profess to believe in a free market are the first ones to demand that market be limited.

FreeBooteR! said,
I do not agree with your assessment that the GPL is a weakness.

The GPL is listed as a strength first. However, it is undeniable that businesses have had problems understanding and complying with the GPL because it is so different to what they are used to.


FreeBooteR! said,
I see quite a few attacks against the free software movement that are carried out in a very subtle manor. Those who want to take away your freedom always focus on the cost and ignore the freedom aspects of free software, this is of course on purpose.
I hope you are not talking about me attacking the free software movement.

Great article. I've been addicted to Ubuntu for more over a year now. Whilst I agree it's not perfect, it never seizes to amaze me how good it is sometimes. Personally I don't care if it ever moves above 1% of the market share, I'd just wish more hardware developers reserved some of their time for Linux drivers, and maybe a few apps here and there. The only thing I personally miss would be Photoshop running natively.

. . . powerhouse; we sure have a different point of view as to what constitutes a powerhouse:

Microsoft = powerhouse
Apple = strong business practices, and great advertising
Linux = sure wish we could do as good as the first two. . oh well!!!!!

Administering Linux is quite a bit different, though. And that is what people are really saying when they talk about "using Linux is complex". But being different or new does not make it more complex.

Linux has come a long way from the days when I 1st checked out a Slackware distro running on my parallel port Zip drive, but recent experience points out why for so many it's just not there yet... Sadly it might not ever be.

I like to work with video, have dozens of video apps, & given the vagaries of Direct Show filter graphs, wanted to see what the latest in Linux had to offer. Far as I can tell, you can't just download & install any of the video editors & such I thought looked promising... Given the amount of work spent getting VMWare Server running in/on 7 64, and Linux installed & working properly, I simply was no longer motivated to tackle what seemed a learning curve plus a bit of work, just to get one of those editors installed & working, what with all the supporting packages to track down, install, configure etc, before I could even think of firing a video app up. At the time I might still have considered the multiple downloads & installs, if only they were all on the same web page as the editor. I'm still interested, & might someday tackle it, but it's a fair ways down my TO Do list, & I've zero incentive to further partition a drive to do a non vm install.

That points out I think Linux' biggest flaw. Promoters can share Dilbert's attitudes about Marketing all they want, but there's no ignoring the need to 1) give people what they want, & 2) make getting it reasonably painless. When it comes to cost, Linux [& open source] wins because it's less painful than Windows, but most other sources of pain seem ignored, so much so that any risk coming from using illegal copies of Windows & Windows' software is often preferred; for an individual at home that risk may not amount to all that much, but for a biz it can be considerable. It doesn't help when the major source of revenue from open source is supporting services, giving the impression [whether true or not] that developers have every reason NOT to make it easy.

In a nutshell, if you want more than something like FireFox, The Gimp, & Star/Open Office, you're likely far better off at the moment sticking with the Windows install that came with your PC/laptop, especially when as Mark pointed out in his editorial, so many Linux apps tend to want to be Windows apps if/when they grow up. Some in the Linux community recognize this, & have created quite a few really nice live CD/DVD images, but if those don't meet your needs/wants, the Linux world is anything but inviting. That leaves special applications as the biggest reason behind growth in numbers, which also tends to fragment the Linux world further, making it even less inviting to everyone who feels that learning/using an app is more important than just learning how to get it running.

Yes, I think that the "copy" thing is a problem for Linux. They will always be perceived as being behind. Mostly because you will be behind when copying something that already exists. :P

But, it is a damned if you do - damned if you don't situation. If they go their own way without copying the look & feel of the various apps people are used to, Windows users will find it unfamiliar. Apple has done well with this (being centralized with their own version of a standard UI across the board is critical to their story). But Linux cannot do this. For one, I could not be forced to abandon my Fluxbox window manager because some marketing group determined that KDE will be the unified standard. The central philosophy of freedom of choice works against Linux in this respect.

Vernon de Goede said,
Nice article markjensen.
I like the fact that MINIX is noted as well since my uncle (Tanenbaum) is the founder of it :-)

Cool. I know that Linus and (uncle) Andrew have had some philosophical disagreements that may have bubbled over into more heated discussion, but from what I have seen they still have a respect for each other despite the differing philosophies.

I only speak from the consumer space as I am not a sysadmin or developer but I've found Linux on the mobile platform to be excellent as I've been using Android and WebOS phones for a bit now. It's also been good for netbooks where the main point is portable internet connectivity. As a desktop option I've found it to be severely lacking since my primary uses are audio/video editing, multimedia/home theater, gaming, and productivity. While I can play back media and there are some great media center packages, there are not any pro level editing apps on par with Final cut or Pro Tools or even Photoshop (sorry, GIMP is great but it isn't Photoshop). i can run Office suites that are approaching the polish of Office 2007/2010 but not quite there. Gaming is a matter of emulation and WINE. And getting hardware working...don't get me started. I have tried installing Linux on so many notebooks and desktops to try to breathe life back into them but it is a matter of luck whether or not the wireless will work without downloading and configuring some wrapper to allow you to use the Windows drivers. Printers, sound, screen brightness, etc. are all dodgy out of the box. There are usually ways to get them working but for the average person, the $99 you pay on newegg for a copy of Win7 is well worth it just to have everything work out of the box. Chances are you already got a copy with your computer so the cost of entry seems even lower since it was included at discount. Not saying Windows is superior on a technical level but the money spent on development and drivers and software, etc. leads to a lot more compatibility and for the average person it is a good balance between cost and simplicity.

In the end I use a Linux-based phone, Linux on a netbook, and Windows 7 on my full notebook and desktop/media center.

I think you are seeing exactly what has been the Linux desktop experience to date. Functional, but not as fully user-polished as the big two other competitors.

Can things change? Certainly, if cloud development takes root, as mentioned in the article. Also, you noted that "Linux" means more than just "desktop Linux", and that Linux's flexibility can result in great products in other areas, even if it is weak on the desktop.

Customizibility. One word says a lot. It is not only designed to be modular, but the source code is freely available to be modified by anyone to meet their needs. Of the "big three" OSes out there, Linux has this one hands-down.

Yeah because every normal user knows how to program an OS. BS, that's a pro for programmers, which mostly run Linux as well.

Glendi said,
Yeah because every normal user knows how to program an OS. BS, that's a pro for programmers, which mostly run Linux as well.

When did he say that "every normal user knows how to program an OS" and that it's a plus for mainstream desktop users?

brentaal said,
When did he say that "every normal user knows how to program an OS" and that it's a plus for mainstream desktop users?

So the pros are only for programmers? Not mainstream. Then poor Linux, it won't get far.

I don't know. I like customizibility of Linux in the sense that I can tweak it to no limits, change desktop environments and window managers, install it using a minimal install so I don't clutter up the system, choose between different distros etc. And I'm not a programmer, I'm not even a serious modder.

Symod said,
I don't know. I like customizibility of Linux in the sense that I can tweak it to no limits, change desktop environments and window managers, install it using a minimal install so I don't clutter up the system, choose between different distros etc. And I'm not a programmer, I'm not even a serious modder.

Diffferent distros doesn't mean more cusotomizability, W7 also has minimal install (as in you don't plainly judge size but consider what it has inside) and obviously it doesn't clutter your system.

Glendi said,
Yeah because every normal user knows how to program an OS. BS, that's a pro for programmers, which mostly run Linux as well.

No need to be hostile. Especially for something I didn't claim. :P

The statement is that Linux is modular. I don't like Gnome. I use Fluxbox instead. That's a complete and designed-in modularity that OSX and Windows do not provide. I can totally remove the default web browser and replace it with a different one. I think you can remove Safari completely, but you cannot remove IE, and Microsoft's built-in help files (used to, anyhow, not sure about Win7) break if it is not installed.

The next statement was the next level of customizibility that helps Linux as a platform. The source code is available for those with the talents or resources, such as businesses, to modify to suit whatever requirement they have. Two different levels of ability to customize. I'm sorry you got confused with what I stated and thought I said that every user can program an OS.

Glendi said,
Diffferent distros doesn't mean more cusotomizability, W7 also has minimal install (as in you don't plainly judge size but consider what it has inside) and obviously it doesn't clutter your system.

You're missing the point I was trying to make. Go see some of the Linux desktop threads to see what I'm talking about. You can have Ubuntu (or other) minimal install (with only the packages you choose to have) with, say, Openbox, which lets you have a very, very lightweight system, to bleeding edge monsters with numerous effects which put Aero to shame. And about a hundred things in between. That was my main point. You're free to change and tweak so many things in a much easier way. For example, to change start menu icon in Windows 7, you need a 10 step tutorial. To change it in Ubuntu, you need to replace a png file.

markjensen said,

No need to be hostile. Especially for something I didn't claim. :P

The statement is that Linux is modular. I don't like Gnome. I use Fluxbox instead. That's a complete and designed-in modularity that OSX and Windows do not provide. I can totally remove the default web browser and replace it with a different one. I think you can remove Safari completely, but you cannot remove IE, and Microsoft's built-in help files (used to, anyhow, not sure about Win7) break if it is not installed.

The next statement was the next level of customizibility that helps Linux as a platform. The source code is available <b>for those with the talents</b> or resources, such as businesses, to modify to suit whatever requirement they have. Two different levels of ability to customize. I'm sorry you got confused with what I stated and thought I said that every user can program an OS.

The problem with that though, is that the Open Source nature of Linux is marketed as being one of its best points, yet I feel the point the user was trying to make is that to the average user that is not really beneficial.

Also, you can completely remove the IE browser element from Windows 7, you just can't remove the rendering engine (which would be a bad idea anyway, seeing as a lot of Windows applications depend upon it)

Frank Fontaine said,
The problem with that though, is that the Open Source nature of Linux is marketed as being one of its best points, yet I feel the point the user was trying to make is that to the average user that is not really beneficial.
I disagree that one must be a programmer to receive benefits from Open Source software.


Frank Fontaine said,
Also, you can completely remove the IE browser element from Windows 7, you just can't remove the rendering engine (which would be a bad idea anyway, seeing as a lot of Windows applications depend upon it)
"A lot of Windows applications depend on it". Yup. Sounds like things break if it is removed and replaced with the user's choice in HTML rendering engine. Just like I said. :)

There's been a trend recently where bleeding-edge has taken precedence over stability in many Linux distros. The average user doesn't want to have deal with broken sound and booting to be greeted by the black screen of death. When these issues, and they really shouldn't be issues anymore, are resolved, maybe Linux as a whole will move forwards. The biggest thing that holds Linux back is also its biggest strength, its community.

I should preface this by saying my only experience with Linux is Ubuntu and I'm also a gamer.

Yeah, they don't advertise at all... and how would they? They (the hundreds of thousands(?) Linux users) would have to agree on one, two or three versions to advertise and show to the general public. And concerning the average desktop user. If someone wants to do anything that's remotely complicated... good luck with that terminal... or rather not even that, good luck with anything that's plug-and-play-esque.

It's fine if you only use an Office Suite, cuz there's an app for that (I said it...what?), or just browse the web or whatnot, but don't try to play any real games, plug in a controller, printer, scanner, or whatever and have it instantly work.

I don't deny that Linux is definitely good for some things, but right now, for anything remotely complicated it just seems like I'm doing more work to get it going than I would be in Windows (maybe even Mac, but I don't really use Mac so I don't know). Maybe I'd be more likely to use it if I could play games on it a lot easier, but WINE is an unreliable pain in the butt (not an emulator my ***) and if you have to resort to that for playing current-gen games then you should seriously consider dual-booting. 2 cents ftw.

With Linux, you really get what you pay for. There are scores of open-source projects available for Windows, and most of the really good ones would be worth paying for. However, the vast majority of the...I'm sorry, but I'll not pull punches, crap available for Linux, feels free, and no one would give them a second thought were they required the pay for it. There is some decent software available for Linux, but having every distro overload you with package managers full of hundreds of packages of crap, is counterproductive, and looks desperate. "LOOK, we have lots of choices! See! Look at all this...STUFF!"

What holds back Linux in the mainstream world; it looks and feels free...in the sense that it looks, feels and behaves like a cheap knockoff of something better. And the more they try to glom on more garbage to make it seem more user-friendly and similar to a Windows world, the more they fail. Slackware, Arch, Gentoo...those feel like Linux. Ubuntu feels like a korean knockoff Windows.

But honestly, anyone wanting to run a decent Unix on their desktop, needs to buy an Apple. With Linux, you're just indulging in a hobby.

Yeah it looks like many corporations and big organizations that runs the *nix servers are "indulging in a hobby" in a grand scale.

Mythmaker said,
With Linux, you really get what you pay for. There are scores of open-source projects available for Windows, and most of the really good ones would be worth paying for. However, the vast majority of the...I'm sorry, but I'll not pull punches, crap available for Linux, feels free, and no one would give them a second thought were they required the pay for it. There is some decent software available for Linux, but having every distro overload you with package managers full of hundreds of packages of crap, is counterproductive, and looks desperate. &quot;LOOK, we have lots of choices! See! Look at all this...STUFF!&quot;

What holds back Linux in the mainstream world; it looks and feels free...in the sense that it looks, feels and behaves like a cheap knockoff of something better. And the more they try to glom on more garbage to make it seem more user-friendly and similar to a Windows world, the more they fail. Slackware, Arch, Gentoo...those feel like Linux. Ubuntu feels like a korean knockoff Windows.

But honestly, anyone wanting to run a decent Unix on their desktop, needs to buy an Apple. With Linux, you're just indulging in a hobby.

Really? A decent Unix is OSX? Sat behind a UNIX system ever?

Also, Linux as a 'hobby'? What about the many companies running Enterprise Linux (Red Hat, SUSE) company-wide, or the thousands of servers running Linux? Are they doing it as a 'hobby'? I guess they're saving money for MS Server.

Krome said,
Yeah it looks like many corporations and big organizations that runs the *nix servers are &quot;indulging in a hobby&quot; in a grand scale.

You know, reading comprehension is lacking, it seems.

Did you miss the part where I said ON THEIR DESKTOP? And you counter that with server references? Dumb post is dumb.

Behemoth said,
Really? A decent Unix is OSX? Sat behind a UNIX system ever?

Also, Linux as a 'hobby'? What about the many companies running Enterprise Linux (Red Hat, SUSE) company-wide, or the thousands of servers running Linux? Are they doing it as a 'hobby'? I guess they're saving money for MS Server.

Same goes for you;

Did you miss the part where I said ON THEIR DESKTOP? And you counter that with server references? Dumb post is dumb.

Seriously, you guys need to pull your heads out of the sand. There is no disputing Linux is just awesome...on a server. Unfortunately, nothing in my post had anything to do with servers. Desktops. Rather telling that there is such a problem differentiating between scenarios for desktops and servers for you guys.

And I stand behind my statement. Anyone wanting a rock-solid Unix on their DESKTOP, just needs to go buy an Apple and leave the tinkertoy hobby crap to the basement dwellers. Period.

Dr. Gonzo said,
... and leave the tinkertoy hobby crap to the basement dwellers. Period.
Yeah. Hardly trolling there, are you?

</sarcasm>

I have no doubt it's strong, however, I don't see it increasing marketshare for the average user anytime soon. Microsoft is just what people know.

And compatability is a big problem for the average, no idea, computer user.

Well, to an extent that doesn't even matter. Linux is about all the different areas of the market and is strong in almost every single one except the desktop. The article is about the Linux's viability in all markets for the future, not it's viability specifically on the desktop platform.

Great article, very well written. This is the best original Neowin editorial yet.