Xandros has spent the better part of a decade trying to take Linux to the masses and build itself up as a serious contender in the commercial Linux racket. And now, after the advent of Linux-based netbooks and an evolving new class of devices that are being dubbed smartbooks, Xandros is getting another chance at going mainstream …
"you lose your shirt on it. At the end of the day, you have to do something that puts rice in the bowl."
Yep, we have to be proactive about that. I suggest we touch base some time this afternoon. I should be free at 3, but it's only a guesstimate, I'll keep you up.
By the way, the "guest OS" approach (Presto) is far from new. It's good for people who know they want to jump ships, and want to try a few distros before choosing the destination, but that's it. As the guest OS communicates with the hardware through the host , you've got all the problems inherent to the hosting OS, plus the communication problem/cost, plus the odd problem with the guest OS. So it runs slow and can be buggy, most of that being of course due to the host Windows OS.
And "than trying to convince Windows shops to load Xandros Professional Desktop on top of Windows and forgetting everything they knew about Windows and having to learn the Way of Linux."? Puh-lease... if you're really talking about the shops, the first-line henchmen do not know a thing about either Linux or Windows (or OpenBSD or Tru64 UNIX or BlueBottle or...) -worst, they *think* they know, and will be more than happy to give braindead advice carefully hand-picked from the worst windows-for-morons web forums. And the wizz guys would probably be super-happy to migrate, as -SHOCKER- Linux is way, way easier to put on *any* machine than Windows -that's especially true for "non-standard" machines.
If you're talking about the end-user, they tend to know nothing about Windows either, and have to learn from Uncle Joe (who knows informatics: he used to clean the floors and empty the bins at Best Buy), or the aforementionned Windows-for-morons forums (where every other "solution" involves flashing the BIOS and tutti quanti). So they'd be better off with a GNU/Linux system (they come with a real documentation, for starters).
Still the same...
Taking Linux to the masses... I love the concept but unfortunately Linux distros have not been able to do so.
I have tried many flavors, revisions, brands and versions and it always boils down to the same issues. Windows is easier to use. When you get an installation package for windows, it installs, without the end user having to do much at all. Linux is not the same. Try to install OpenOffice 3.1 on Ubuntu 9.04... Instead of a single .deb package, there are many and you have to get to the terminal, use sudo and still it does not work 100%. Launchers are not created, depedencies are not installed. Too complicated for the masses.
Don't get me wrong, I love Linux and have been using for years, but I understand why the masses are not willing to adopt.
For the masses to adopt, the various flavors of Linux must agree on standards, especially in application packages. RTM vs DEB vs creating you own is not good enough. Maybe if the Linux world was uniting, it would force the hardware manufacturer to provide better support, which would certainely help the cause.
Netbooks are perfect for Linux, low resource, fast, in a lot of way better than the crippled XP flavor. Try to install something and here it goes again.
Xandros will go down in history...
...as possibly Linux's greatest missed opportunity. They rode the crest of the wave with the Eee PC and instead of surfing it in to a victorious world-beating position on the OS beach, tripped, fell into the briney, and sank without a trace. Their incompetence has been appropriately punished, but the tragedy is that they could have done so much good for everyone.
Rot In Purgatory, Xandros.
No, Xandros... Users aren't interested in YOU.
There are4 types of users:
* Windows Fanbois
* Apple weirdos
* Linux fanatics
* People who don't give a crap as long as it does what they need and doesn't BSOD.
Of those, Windows fanbois love Microsoft, Apple weirdos love Steve Jobs, Linux fanatics love [Ubuntu/Debian/OpenSUSE/Gentoo/not-Xandros]... And those who don't care really don't care.
Of the 3 groups that care, none of them are impressed with Xandros.
"Doing that general purpose operating system is a nightmare, and you lose your shirt on it,"
someone in Linux land admits why Windows sells so well apart from all the usual monopoly crap they come out with - even if they don't realise they just did.
Agree about one thing...
...Users don't care about how their software works, or the "political" aspects of it, for the most part. They care whether or not it gets the job done. It's a market out there; you need a shop front, not a soap box.
The key to getting any software widely accepted is to make it so useful to people that its name is synonymous with the service it offers. That's a difficult thing to do - Google, Windows and Photoshop are the obvious examples - and whatever you think of the quality (or otherwise) of those pieces of software, the fact remains that they're in a dominating position in the market. Xandros seem to be wanting to adapt themselves to the market, rather than the other way around. Now let's see if they can follow through on the idea and make it work.
Is that netbooks shipped with Xandros Linux, or ones still running it?
Hang on a sec...
Xandros seem dangerously like a FOSS company who actually 'get it', Linux isn't a religon, the vast majority of people don't care about linux (in the same way that the vast majority of people don't care about Windows or Mac OS) they care about, ease of use, cost and compatibillity.
I've no doubt that Xandros will now be black marked by the linux zealot community who will try to drum them out of business for this herasy.
Users don't care about Linux?
Wrong - Users don't care about YOUR packaging of Linux......
Is this an advert for xandros?
'Users don't care about Linux'
and "Xandros doesn't care about Users"...
Once the product is out, you can forget about getting any kind of updates (security or otherwise) from Xandros. Same goes for apps not installed by default. Unless you're willing & able to perform a lot of Linux admin voodoo, you're up the creek on your own. No surprise that a lot of EEE users have opted to do a post-install of Windows, even if they started out satisfied with the installed Linux. Or, for those that *do* care about Linux, opted for Ubuntu.
The slight problem with Xandros approach of marketing the OS as "the thing that makes your netbook work", is that along the line they forgot that it was still a computer. I upgraded the RAM on my eeepc and Xandros didn't recognise > 1Gb. I wanted iptables and the Xandros kernel didn't have it. Oh yeah, and it came with a r00table samba daemon that was running. So I blew away the Xandros and replaced it with ubuntu (now i have UNR 9.04)
It is a shame because Xandros did some stuff very well. If they just had a decent/compatible package repository and fixed a few basic oversights, i would have kept it.
When Xandros is not Xandros
The problem with the Linux EEE (as I understand it) was that the Xandros that Asus had aquired was not exactly current and they'd tweaked it. As a result Xandros themselves wouldn't really touch it with a bargepole. Meanwhile Asus aren't really in the line of OS support, so they may not have been much help.
So if you had any nasty problems, or if you tweaked rather a lot, then you could be up the creek when it came to needing some help.
Personally I tried some tweaks etc, but it was just a mess and I ended up making my 701 unbootable twice. After that I gave up and moved to Ubuntu EEE/EasyPeasy, where I could get it to do what I wanted and could make all my own tweaks and it still worked!
Admittedly if you aren't going to mess with it at all, then the pre-installed Xandros is fine. But if you want to tweak it in any way (like even adding a desktop icon) then you're probably in for a world of pain...
But that has always been the point with Linux, it has always been a pain for the unitiated to administer. Windows has wrapped it up quite nicely - possibly because Windows has been designed from the start to be sold and not given away.
This is a very old argument when it comes to Linux, and as such Linux distributions been playing catch up to commercial products in this respect (I know I am going to get flamed for that). The success of things like Ubuntu really underline this point, as soon as it becomes obvious how its meant to be used people will start to use it more.
paris, because ultimately she doesnt care what OS is she is using, as long as she can get on the Internet etc.
"Users don't care about Linux."
Finally, someone gets it. I do not care what OS my microwave, washing machine or PVR use. Couldn't give a stuff. Beep, beep, get the job done. It's a utility device. End of story.
This is how many people see a PC. Just a tool to get a job done, be that games, surfing, whatever. They do not give two craps what the OS is, so long as it lets them do what they want to do. IT nerds are different. They do care what the OS is as they need to find something to compensate for their lack of a life.
So, if Xandros "gets" what the end user wants, why does their implementation of this vision seem to be (according to the reports, I've never had the pleasure of using it) such an utter abortion? Is this a case of being able to talk the talk and not walk the walk? Is that the reason most netbooks now seem to be Windows based (either from source or post-install)? Or is it because the rest of the Linux community thinks that the world should be IT nerds and get all excited about hacking smb.conf files for hours to try and set-up a network share and thus utterly fails to engage with Joe Public.
Thus leaving it up to MS to show them how it should be done.
If I was microsoft
I would pay Xandros to put Linux on netbooks. When I first played with it I thought they had!
At least the cursor moves smoothly in Xandros.
My daughter just installed UNR because she like the screenshots and now finds that when the cursor goes over icons it becomes like treacle.
She is sticking with it because she knows it'll get fixed asap but for Joe/ann ordinary it's a real deal breaker.
Other distros are better.
Or at least I know one is; co-incidentally, I had a Mandriva install running on my Eee 901 last night.
Maybe Asus were to blame, but that particular example of Xandros was a pile of smelly (and not in a good way) pants.
That old thing?
They are building add-ons for something that is freely given to the world and then selling it. Greedy fuckers.
In between the Xandros hard-sell and some useful comments, I find this gem...
"as the pitiful uptake of Linux among consumers and corporations shows - outside of software development and applications such as call centers or embedded systems like cash registers"
Really ? The electronic design industry that designs the chips that any software runs on is heading for pretty much all Linux - still some noticable Solaris usage as well. I'd also be tempted have a look at HPC usage and such things as render shops as well.... small in number admittedly, but big on requirements and complexity.. Oh, and i'd check what size the embedded market is compared to consumer PCs before you get too snitty.
Linux isn't the be-all and end-all of OSes - far from it - but neither does it have "pitiful uptake". Unless, of course, you're just trolling Timothy ?
Or ignorant ?
Tim (the other one)
I seriously wonder if you've even installed Ubuntu 9.04, let alone tried installing OpenOffice on it. All the Ubuntu distributions I've tried have OpenOffice installed out of the box, so to speak. And if it wasn't, installing it does not require any terminal-foo - there is a very functional GUI that allows you to manage your applications that is a bit like an on-line store where you can buy applications - except all the applications are free.
Perhaps as Apple and Microsoft move more towards the on-line integrated application store, people will grok how the Linux installation process works. At the moment I think users are going to, for example, the OpenOffice web site and looking for something to download instead of going to the package manager.
A black helicopter because I can't help thinking comments like this are being paid for...
@if I was microsoft
"I would pay Xandros to put Linux on netbooks."
They decided to pay them to put XP on instead.
This is going to slip into a 'My distro is better than yours' argument. This is exactly why people get put off by the word Linux in the first place.
My one experience of Xandros is the broken install that came on my eeepc901
There was little to no way to install new stuff.
The menu/icon systems sucked.
There was no "normal" desktop mode.
Updates were just broken.
The key map kept switching back and forth between UK and US every few boots.
No, that was a failure. If they want to be anything useful then they need to make sure that what gets sent out on these machines works. Debian, OTOH, is a delight on the 901. And if they're having trouble making desktop linux pay, they may want to ask Shuttleworth for tips. Last I heard Ubuntu was slowly approaching profitability.
Go to the menus in Gnome, choose System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager.
Enter the root password when prompted, select openoffice.org and click OK.
Alternatively, if you're not scared of the command line, just sudo apt-get install openoffice.org
I fail to see how it could be simpler. No searching on the web, no non-standard installers, just the built in software repository (I know, not as snappy a name as "App Store", but it's basicalyl the same thing). Sure it could use some polish, but it's neither complex, arcane nor weird.
Linux is difficult
...not in my experience or for my users. Most don't even know they are using it. For the average non-techie going from XP to Vista is as different as going from XP to Ubuntu.
I don't know what George has done, but my users found out of the box installation of OpenOffice easy and without fault. The only time I've got stuck with dependencies is when I try and use a more cutting edge repository. Then again if I use cutting edge windows software I can come undone.
The problem is not LInux....
The problem is the mindset.
You slap on a copy of Ubuntu Gnome/KDE whichever, then give it to someone with very little interest in computers or very little experience, it will most likely work well. They won't know or care.
Most people's first experience of a PC is Windows, so obviously that's where the expectations start.
I am a devout OSX/Linux user, but Linux is simply not ready for the desktop and I think KDE/Gnome with Compiz is amazing when you consider that a group of part-timers are simply throwing it all together hoping to get it right, but at the moment nothing beats the slick user interface of Quartz or Aero, sadly until Linux looks like Windows and plays exactly like Windows, it will not cut it with more than small number of people.
Like any techy on any field ( plumbing, sparky, car mechanic, etc ) I am prepared to accept the limitations of Linux on the desktop, I use it 9 hours a day 5 days week, I live with it's odd foibles, I know the workarounds, average Joe Punter won't and unless there is someone in a shop or end of phone line who will take a mouthful when something fails to work, then Windows will rule. I hate it too, but them's the facts!
Load Ubuntu onto a desktop and then when little Johnny can't play the latest block-buster game or weird USB device won't play nice without some obscure driver being compiled, then you will quickly learn the curse of Redmond!
Nice to read some insights into building a business around an operating system.
Seems core to El Reg too. Thanks.
Parade of the Wintards
Float #1, Ian Bradshaw: "someone in Linux land admits why Windows sells so well apart from all the usual monopoly crap they come out with - even if they don't realise they just did."
Windows "sells" so well precisely because 99.9% of consumers have no choice about whether they get it or not. There are a bunch of entertainment appliances which run Linux, about which we could say that on those "Linux sells so well", and you'd only be able to refute that by saying, "But why can't I run Windows on them?" Next you'll be telling us that Windows was bundled for free on your laptop, perhaps giving you pause to wonder who is actually buying the sold goods and whether they do so on the merits of the product. Or you would if you had any imagination.
Float #2, Fraser: "Xandros seem dangerously like a FOSS company who actually 'get it', Linux isn't a religon, the vast majority of people don't care about linux (in the same way that the vast majority of people don't care about Windows or Mac OS) they care about, ease of use, cost and compatibillity."
You missed the one thing that ultimately leads to people whining about Linux on netbooks: familiarity. If the vendor does a half-decent job of putting stuff on a netbook, ease of use and compatibility should be no real problem, nor should cost. What happens, though, is that people like those on float #1 think that a netbook is really a cheap corporate laptop which should be running all the usual proprietary stuff, even Granny's netbook. And they'll whine into Granny's ear about it ("You don't want to surf the Internet, you want Microsoft® Internet® Explorer® on Microsoft® Windows® Netbook® Edition®!") until she returns it to the store and gets a Windows-flavoured one, even if Granny's Internet experience then flows like treacle and acquires malware as if it's an Olympic event. It's the "I've been shortchanged because it's not Brand M" attitude of the average Britard.
"I've no doubt that Xandros will now be black marked by the linux zealot community who will try to drum them out of business for this herasy."
Xandros are already several inches distant from the shitty end of the shit stick for signing a patent licensing agreement with Microsoft, so I think you need to update your information. And on that front, when it comes to updates, those poor consumers who have had Xandros Linux foisted upon them don't seem to get very many updates, do they?
Sure, Linux distributions could deliver a better experience, but unlike the impression given by the average Britard who clings to decades-old complaints like they are universal invariants, the situation is improving continually. As everyone has noticed, Xandros and Asus, with their ditch 'n' run attitude to delivery and support, are part of the problem and not part of the solution.
One word: Synaptic. It will make your life much easier. If you're still confused, I suggest a trip to the local bookstore, or a Google for an introductory Linux user's guide.
And by the way...how'd you manage to install Ubuntu 9.04 and not get Open Office automatically installed? It should have been right there under Applications/Office.
@The Fuzzy Wotnot
"sadly until Linux looks like Windows and plays exactly like Windows, it will not cut it with more than small number of people."
1. Aero is a blatant copy of compiz
2. Surely the popularity of MacOS X shows that other things can succeed?
I'll freely admit that Linux can be a pain in the backside to maintain/administer though. I shan't be moving my mum off windows for some time.
it isn't about the desktop !!!
"Doing that general purpose operating system is a nightmare, and you lose your shirt on it," Smith explains. "At the end of the day, you have to do something that puts rice in the bowl", Jordan Smith Xandros
It isn't about the desktop, it never was, it was always about getting control of the customer experience. The battle for the desktop was fought and won, by Microsoft, a long time ago. MS, always late to the party, recognizes this, which is why it is moving to services based round the xbox and 'the cloud'. They realize that if you don't control the total stack, from the desktop to the server, then you're just the delivery people. Which is why Apple making money out of the iTunes on Windows is total anathema at Redmond. How dare Apple make a buck out of the Microsoft Desktop without paying the MS tax.
Digital Video Recorders, set-top boxes, subscription services and 'other tiny computing devices' will sell, but the real money is in subscription services. As long as the consumers are using your devices, else you're just the delivery people.
Linux/BSD uptake ...
I've been using PC-BSD and Ubuntu on desktops, at home, for a couple of years and they work very well for me and I am definitely a non-admin user.
I think that if each of the larger distros put out a book similar to the Windows Server Admin books, every couples of years covering new technologies, that explain the many of the functions of a server, how to implement these servers, how to maintain the systems, even for me how to network the computers and systems, I think that we would see a larger uptake.
Ultimately, widespread Linux/BSD uptake will be driven by your average joe, or your average joe sys admin. You know, the one who is competent and comfortable with the OS, but maybe can't rewrite the kernel/application to make it work on an OS it wasn't written for.
In fact, I've recently found some books on FreeBSD that I think might help me to that end.
@Anonymous Coward 09:39 GMT
"Finally, someone gets it. I do not care what OS my microwave, washing machine or PVR use. Couldn't give a stuff. Beep, beep, get the job done. It's a utility device. End of story."
Well that's you isn't it! The majority of el reg users do care (I was on a flight last year and they kept rebooting the system for the seatback display and lacking anything else to do I happily watched the linux boot sequence for about half an hour - I did get annoyed after a while though because it was a 12 hour flight and I needed something else to do!)
Perhaps you should stick to bbc news technology??
>>>Debian, OTOH, is a delight on the 901
Really? Can you honestly say that everything works as intended - you know, blue Fn keys, WiFi toggling the blue light too, OSD popups....? I've actually gone back to Xandros after trying half a dozen Linux distros (and even Win7) and decided that the only thing that works properly is what came with the 901!! For normal netbook use it's perfectly OK. Not pretty, not hackable, but it does work....but do keep clearing out enough diskspace for the dreadful update manager to function properly. **
My point is that Xandros *IS* good enough for its intended purpose. My missus uses my Eee in preference to her corporate (bogged down) laptop, and hasn't even asked about the OS. She clicks on "Web" and off she goes. Simples.
I suspect the real problem is that the average user just doesn't understand the ethos of a netbook, and expects to run Photoshop / GTA etc on it. They need the XP interface, and I suspect a great many of them will abandon the whole concept as they are too underpowered for normal laptop use. Time will tell.
** If you have got Debian running absolutely perfectly, then I will graciously eat humble pie if you tell me how you did it!
Re: The Fuzzy Wotnot
"but at the moment nothing beats the slick user interface of Quartz or Aero, sadly until Linux looks like Windows and plays exactly like Windows, it will not cut it with more than small number of people."
Is that a joke?
Aero is the reason I switched to Linux. It's complete rubbish, both in terms of visual appearance and usability.
If Gnome + Compiz does a better job using a fraction of the resources, what's not to like? Oh I get it, all the icons and menus are in different places.
Kind of like what Microsoft did with Vista and Office 2007, no?
"Users don't care about Linux."
Definately not, and Linux doesnt; care about users. I'm not exactly a normal user, I even want to like linux, but i just can't bring myself to. It's just too much hassle. It just works, except when it doesn't, and then it's a pain to get working. Also i have issues with the security, when it starts interfering with my abiltiy to perform tasks.
<bit of a rant>
I tried linux again a few days ago, I had a full set of detailed instructions from the net to get openSUSE working on my machine and after an hour i gave up trying to get past the first step, which was modifying a config file. no matter what i did, i couldn't get access to amend it, or access to look at my other disk partitions. I know enough to know that i need to modify my access somehow, but no obvious way of doing it. Even had i managed to amend the config and get the screen into the right resolution, i would have had to download and compile a wireless driver, copy it into a directory somewhere and start running some terminal commands, whats wrong with double clicking an installer?
In the end i scrubbed it and installed the netbook remix, which actually worked! all of the hardware just worked, when i tried to access my disks it told me why it was failing, and prompted me to enter a password. After browsing the net a bit on firefox, and doing a bit of typing on openoffice, i wondered what the whole point of it was and booted back to windows. I could use it, but it certainly seems restrictive compared to what i'm used to, maybe if i downloaded and installed some 3rd party apps? If i can ever figure out how to do that.
Until Linux embraces a lot of the stuff it laments windows for doing, such as wizards and installers, admin functions within the GUI, people just won't bother. If a piece of hardware doesn't work, i want to go to some sort of graphical device manager, view details of the problem and update or install a driver, not start mucking about with a compiler and modprobe commands. It's all very meaningful and useful to a hacker, but to a normal person it's unbeleivably unfriendly. ie linux:sudo or windows:'run as administrator' which makes more sense.
I got it on my EEE and gave it a serious try for about six months. Finally gave up on the pitiful package collection and put UNR on it. I'm never going back. Tim Bates got it absolutely right. Those of us who know and care about using Linux don't give a crap about Xandros.
Linux is a kernel, Linux is a kernel, Linux is a kernel....
> Until Linux embraces a lot of the stuff it laments windows for doing,
Linux is a kernel. Linux is a kernel. Linux is a kernel.
Users don't care about Linux
Yes....users care about functionality and ease-of-use. But they also care about cost (both initial cost and lifetime cost). I'd like to distinguish two classes of user:
1. Users who bought Windows bundled with a PC. For these users, Windows is "free".
2. Users who have had to install/reinstall ANY operating system, and users who have to install and maintain maintain add-on packages after the initial PC purchase.
I'd contend that users in group #1 don't care at all about the O/S.
I'd contend that users in group #2 have exactly the same set of hassles whether it's Windows or Linux.......but users in group #2 have a completely different view of cost. In my case, I spent approximately $800 on Windows licences in the last year I used Windows. Since then I've spent $0 on Linux licences (Fedora), but have had the same or greater functionality from my Linux machines, and pretty much NO change in the hassles!
The point is that some users (a minority) DO CARE about the O/S, but not because of religious wars about Apple/Windows/Linux, but because they can get what they need without paying the sort of fees which Apple and Microsoft would charge for the same fuicntionality.
I think the reason George was having problems with OO.o was that he was trying to install 3.1 which isn't in Ubuntu 9.04's repository. The easiest way of putting 3.1 on is to go to https://launchpad.net/~openoffice-pkgs/+archive/ppa. Works for me on 8.04.
@ AC 14:01 GMT "Linux... pretty restrictive"
Come on - cant't let that lie there. I've installed Win OS's on home built PC's since 1990. It's a pain to install from scratch. Hardly anything works out of the box - you need a stack of OEM CD's for drivers for x,y and z and an equal number of reboots (yes still in 2009!). My son's (second hand) Dell D530 still has no working motherboard LAN as I cannot pin down the right driver from the Dell site (of course you need the LAN working to download the driver...). Oh and Microsoft Help/Troubleshooter needs a working internet connection...Also don't forget to activate your license for XP...
Ubuntu on the same machine - installs completely in 18 mins via a GUI - including LAN. Open Office apps as well. I can even LAN boot it via my Linux LTSP server and even sound / video works!
It does sound like you looked for the Windows dialogs ; found none and left. If this was a car you would have a fiddle about; get the manual out. If while on Ubuntu you had looked on the internet (which was working) for "install apps" you would have discovered "Synaptic Package Manager" which really is a "one click to install" installer. No reboots (almost) or disks.
@Anonymous Coward - 13:24
The fact that you have to use an ad hominem shows that you have no real argument.
Normal user DO NOT CARE what the OS is. NOT ONE JOT. They just want the computer "to do stuff".
Reg readers DO CARE because we are TECH NERDS. We are not normal.
Do you not get that? Is it too astounding an idea that for some people a PC is "just another device" like the microwave or the washing machine? That they have a life outside hacking config files, trawling through logs or compiling their own drivers?
For them Windows "just works". It may well be crap (matter of opinion) but until the Linux world gets it through it's pig-headed, elitist skull that no real person gives two flying shits how wow the latest distro unless it does what they want, when they want with no fuss.
I approve this comment.
from Corel ?
When Xandros spun off from Corel, they should have taken the linux version of WordPrefect with. Anybody else remember WordPerfect ? As one of the four users who ran the linux WordPerfect, on a Caldera Linux (don;t ask why, it was the 90's) I wonder where this particular zombie lies buried.
If you ask a non-amnesiac, they will say "I liked WordPerfect, but THEY (unspecified external entity) made me use MS Office." Aside from who THEY are, and why the the non-amnesiac is showing symptoms of paranoia, are THEY "making" the linux user use OpenOffice ? Instead of WP ? Or is Xandros too small to support a real product, instead of repackaging other people's code ?
Experience the Rice Pudding
The experience of using a computer. There. You. Go. This is serious - please read it *completely* without getting angry or yelling about spelling/grammar/etc.
M$ (as opposed to MS), since the beginning, has bundled simple apps into its OS distribution that ensured a modicum of functionality for general users, as well as very pretty, addictive "games" that underhandedly trained the user certain concepts. These concepts were "double-clicking", "drag-and-drop", "key shortcuts", "drop-down menus", and a host of other skills that made using the rest of the OS easy. Why did this succeed?
1) It worked because it was pre-installed on computers.
WRONG. PCs used to be sold without Windows on them. All that used to be provided was a set of diskettes that *you* installed to get a [shudder] COMMAND LINE [/shudder]. AND PEOPLE CLAMORED FOR THIS. When Windows came out, it blew chunks. Not every mouse worked. Not every keyboard key was mapped properly. Got a specialty X card that the driver was DOS only? Pffft. It did not "just work" like any of the DOS's did (MS-DOS, PC-DOS, CP/M, DCL, etc.). M$ needed a GUI "killer app" that would make DOS easier to use... Eventually, the killer app became an "OS."
Windows floundered on store shelves for two years (four years from its promised release date of 1983) before it took off. Even when it was first pre-installed, people did not use it! The command line and its programs were just fine, thank you. What caused it to move? Finally, there was actually something that made it worthwile - Aldus Pagemaker (http://inventors.about.com/od/mstartinventions/a/Windows_2.htm) in 1987. _Then_ windows became a big deal.
2) It worked because of anti-competitive behavior.
ABSOLUTELY. Ever since M$ got the contract with IBM (http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa033099.htm), M$ has used _every_ trick (legal or otherwise) to make it. There is nothing "virtuous" or "moral" about business - and the sooner contributors to social experiments cum wanna-be brave new world "icons" realize that, the sooner something else can actually compete.
Remember when "nobody got fired for buying IBM"? How long did it take other "general PC" hardware manufacturers to encroach _that_ market? What did it take for them to do it? Did IBM sit around calmly by and watch it happen? No, they sued the pants off of 'em until the "off the shelf component" idea came around to bite them in the hind end. And then, as now, the "dominant company of XX market" was vilified, hated, and grudgingly respected.
3) *IX will be accepted because it is "inherently" better.
WRONG. Do buyers truly care about the OS? No. They care about the APPLICATIONS they can use on the computer. Will my copy of CRYSIS, CoD, WhatEverQuest 3D run? Can I get the spreadsheet I have been working on all week finished off over the weekend on my home machine? Can I browse my fav pr0n sites without the missus finding out or tearing up my machine?
"None of this is necessarily dependent on the OS," many *IX advocates claim. "Since you don't _need_ M$ to do this, you _shouldn't_ use them! You can use my home-made gooey to do it!"
Um... no. Alas, the days of slapping together something in your garage/basement/missile complex/etc. and it being taken seriously outside of the hobbyist utopia is past. It is one thing to put together a PC from brand name components, and quite another to solder together your own motherboard and expect people to buy it "because it's better - Trust me, I made it!"
You are then the guy in the van on the corner trying to sell Mr. Big Business 400+ little white boxes that his users "won't be able to tell the difference between this and what your competitors use. Trust me, I made each and every one of 'em, gov." And then you try to give them away for free... How did that transaction work out, eh?
4) There is enough varieties of *IX that everyone can find what they want.
TRUE, and THAT'S WHY IT FAILS. Windows succeeds because over and over, it was the same thing. Remember what happened when Windows 95 came out? PEOPLE HATED IT! "Where's my program manger?" "What is this Start Menu CR*P!?" It took a couple years (AND A LOT OF MONEY) for M$ to get people to accept it. Windows 98 complied and succeeded... Windows NT 4.0 complied and succeeded... Windows 2000 complied and succeeded...
Why is Vista *still* failing? You mean it doesn't have the same look, feel, and experience... It doesn't work the same with my apps... hmmm... I wonder what we can learn from this...
So, where is the ONE, TRUE, OFFICIAL Linux distribution? Where is the industry-standard Linux 2009 OS that will run every Linux program out there THE SAME WAY? When will it look the same when first installed or when I first turn on my PC? Sure, I want to be able to change the background, sounds, etc. BUT WHERE IS THE ONE CONTROL PANEL OR SETTINGS LINK THAT WILL HAVE THE SAME WAY TO CHANGE SYSTEM SETTINGS NO MATTER WHAT PC BRAND I BOUGHT? What do you mean "it depends on my shell? I have Linux, IT'S ALL THE SAME, ISN'T IT?!" The fact that some of you just rolled your eyes just made the point clear...
When will my Linux 2009 applications install like they do in Windows _and_ Mac - just click the link, download the installer and run it? I don't want to go to a Synoptic or YUM or RPM or YADA YADA YODA SODA to install an app - It's from Adobe, I should get it from the Adobe site to ensure that it's not infected, right? THAT'S WHAT YOU TOLD ME TO DO WITH WINDOWS AND MACS...
Most computer users are *not* developers. THEY DON'T WANT/NEED TO HAVE A DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT ON THE MACHINE TO RUN A PROGRAM. Why do you need gcc 4.2.1 installed in this certain directory tree to make APP_X work? Why do you ALSO need 4.4.0 installed in another tree to make TOOL_Y work? Why does GAME_Z then fail because it had gcc 3.3.6 in the tree you installed 4.4.0 to?!?!
Microsoft is not overly concerned by SourceForge contributors working on distro XYZ. It will be forked many times over because slik_lord_33 wants to add his own YYAOCOCPMV2 (Yet, Yet Another, Other Complex Overly Complicated Package Manger, Version 2) to his fav flav... that no one else will know about it, let alone use.
- "If there are so many cooks in the kitchen... why isn't dinner done yet?"
- "Everything should be happy with what was made by the committee because everyone contributed to the final product. So why don't they use it?"
- "When everyone gets to be heard, no one hears anything." - Anonymous
Well, If the Queen Bee Approves
what's left to say?
...and here's part of the problem...
@ Ocular Sinister
"...instead of going to the package manager."
@ David Hicks
"Go to the menus in Gnome, choose System->Administration->Synaptic Package Manager.
Enter the root password when prompted, select openoffice.org and click OK.
Alternatively, if you're not scared of the command line, just sudo apt-get install openoffice.org"
here's the thing -- if Linux producers want popular uptake of the product, then they have to learn to think the way the public thinks, rather than expect the public to learn the way that THEY think...
...because the public doesn't see any reason why it SHOULD! They don't HAVE to use Linux if they don't want to. OTOH, if you (as a Linux programmer) DO want people to use Linux, then it's up to YOU to give them a reason to want to. "It doesn't crash as often as Windows" is good, "It's easier to do EVERYTHING you want to do and HARDER to screw up your computer" is even better.
But if you SAY that then it had better damned well BE easier to do everything that they want to do and harder to screw up with, because breaking either of those two promises will send them back to the devil they know faster than Amy Winehouse can jump on a rock.
Case in point: "Package Manager" does not say "Installer" to the non-techie. It just doesn't -- get over it. As soon as you tell Aunt Tessie, "Just go to 'System/Administration/Package Manager and...", you've lost her (God knows how she'd react to a "Synaptic Package Manager" -- I'm a geek and the term creeps ME out!). OTOH, if you can tell her "Click that picture on your screen that says 'What do you want to do?' and it will find free programs that do what you want to do and automatically install them for you\," then you probably have a winner.
...And telling the average user EVER to go to the command line is a recipe for fail -- either they connect those incomprehensible command terms with the discomfort of those old high school French classes (ANOTHER foreign language that they never got the hang of), or they are afraid that they'll break their computer, or they WILL break their computer.
If you want the public to come to you, then you have to start by going to where THEY are -- "If we build it, they will come," pretty much only works in the movies.
Oh for f*ck's sake...
This is what really pisses me off about the GNU/Linux lot...
@Daniel Palmer: "Linux is a kernel."
Users DON'T CARE. What part of that did you not understand? Most users can't even tell where Windows ends and Microsoft Word begins. Hell, most users don't even "get" that software is not the same thing as hardware. (I handle customer support for an ESD games company. I've lost count of the number of users who told me their operating system was "DELL INSPIRON" or even just "Word". I'm NOT kidding. Programmers should never, EVER, be permitted to design a damned thing.)
Also, GNU/Linux doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. It's bound to be shortened to either "GNU" (which many people won't know how to pronounce), or plain "Linux".
After all, "Windows" isn't synonymous with "NVidia graphics driver" or "Adobe Acrobat Reader", but that doesn't stop people -- and yes, [INSERT PLATFORM HERE] fanboys, you're just as guilty -- blaming every single bloody crash or hiccup on Windows itself, regardless of which app was the guilty party. If you nerds can't get it right, what hope for normal people?
@Everyone who bangs on about the Synaptic Package Manager:
Why the hell is this effing app not called "Add / Remove Applications"?
And why pick a name only one letter away from that of a well-known manufacturer laptop trackpads? Why the hell would I even *think* about clicking on an app that my experience tells me should have more to do with my trackpad than installing applications?
Come to that, why is so little in the GNU/Linux environment sensibly named according to its function? Aside from a couple of exceptions like OpenOffice (which was originally a proprietary, commercial app anyway), and the abominations that are KOffice suite, almost everything is given ridiculous names.
Even "ls", for f*ck's sake! Who the hell thought that was a good name? Was "cat" (for 'catalogue'), "dir", "list" or "show" too much like hard work?
And the less said about "sudo" or "apt-get". ("Advanced Packaging Tool". Yay. What a fucking meaningful name there. I'm sure everyone who isn't a bloody Linux programmer will just naturally snap his fingers and mutter, "Of course! I need to use a 'packaging tool' to install applications from t'interweb! I wonder if it's an advanced one...?")
@The original article:
Xandros are doing the right thing. While the first EeePC's implementation was a little rough around the edges from a techie's perspective, it was fine for its target market. (The lack of updates is a problem, but the price you pay for being first is that you get to make all the mistakes along the way too.)
The future of Linux is as a behind-the-scenes OS, in embedded systems, certain server sectors, some vertical markets and "appliance" computers like the EeePC and its ilk.
Apple have been walking a similar path for over a decade now, and OS X is fundamentally just another UNIX clone. If Apple can do it at the Rolls-Royce / BMW / Mercedes end of the market, there's no reason why GNU / Linux can't provide the platform for the Fords, Opels and FIATs.
Yawn... So I'm a Wintard because of what exactly? Because I dared to suggest that Linux isn't a religeon?
Disclosure: At home I have a Windows Server and a Vista/XP workstation, yes, but I also have a netbook with Fedora, a MythTV box and a Mac. At work I use Windows, all three big unixes and Red Hat, I am my department's Windows and Linux specialist. So not really a Wintard. Thanks for the Ad hominim though.
Furthermore - Familiarity is a subset of usabillity, which I think I covered as being something that is required, rather than a specific OS. You can have a useable non-familiar OS, therefore usabillity takes prefrence.
Also, what is a Britard? Someone who is retarded because they are British, I presume, nice.
Other than that, it's the same old Linux zealot rant, someone with linux is getting something right, their business practices don't correspond 100% with your ideals, so best insult anyone who is interested in case your private OS club gets wider exposure than just your geeky mates. I'm sick of this shit.
@AC 15.53: I disapprove this comment ;-)
«That they have a life outside hacking config files, trawling through logs or compiling their own drivers? For them Windows "just works".»
So completely untrue that it hurts. Have you ever tried to install Windows from scratch on a machine? I suspect not. Read John White's comment. Only the most common mobo/CPU/IDE drive combos will be supported, and pretty much anything else will require manually installing the drivers. On a reasonnably complex box it takes a couple days if you have all the right (i.e. pretweaked for your particular version of Windows) drivers at hand, on suitable supports (a lot of this time being just watching the bloody thing reboot and reboot and reboot again).
Windows "just works" for the luser crowd because a fuckton of wizzards spent weeks or month tweaking and installing the bloody POS for them. On the other hand, anyone moderately tech-litterate (I mean here anyone *unable* to install Windows but able to operate it) should not have any major problem with a Mandriva or Ubuntu install. They probably won't do it completely right, but they'll end up with a working machine, in 2 hours max.
If Windows "just works" out of the box, how come there is no Windows LiveCD out there, when there are hundreds of GNU/Linux and BSD liveCDs that will work out of the box on 90%+ of machines?
Now if the OEMs were not bribed to the core by MS, they could sell pre-installed GNU/Linux distros, which -oh miracle- would "just work" even for the cluelesstest of lusers -more so than Windows. OK, these wouldn't sell terribly well in the beginning -because of the moronic crowd being afraid of Linux for no reason-, but just have a few ones in stock and people will start to notice how better they are. Admittedly you'd have to make a decent job of it, which means you can probably forget about Xandros altogether*, but it's still going to be much less work than tweaking Windows for the same machines**.
Flames, because it looks like I've been carried away a bit.
*hearsay mostly, never played with the thing.
**observation based on real-life experience, not on some "mine came pre-tweaked so it must be easy" flawed reasonning.
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