back to article Could Linux become the dominant OS?

Open source moves at a different speed to commercial software. This has become apparent over the last decade as Linux and its open source fellow travellers (Apache, Open Office, MySQL, Firefox ,et al) gradually established their position in the software world. It may have been frustrating for the open source activists, more …


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I wonder

How many of the fanboys will past the "Linux on the desktop, eventually" paragraph *before* they start flaming off ?


Dominant on the desktop? Dream on....

The bald assertion that Linux will become dominant on the desktop eventually is just wishful thinking. Perhaps at home, but never in the office.

And the main reason for this is Microsoft Excel. Huge numbers of people in offices have fairly complex spreadsheets which they need to do their jobs. I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense.

It ain't gonna happen.


Old News

This article could have been written 10 years ago. Very little has changed. Linux has stolen very, very little from Windows - it's actually taking market share from low-end unix stuff. The apps for Linux are still way behind MS. There is nothing like Exchange for Linux and other enterprise management tools such as MOM, SMS, SCE etc.

Linux rocks for a lot of things - web serving (as long as it's not .net), firewalls, virtualization, database, but there's nothing in there for enterprise management. Active Directory, DNS, Group Policies etc. Windows has that in the bag - the same applies to integration. Have you ever seen a Vista desktop with Office 2007 hat has a Windows 2003 server running SharePoint and Exchange in place. It's amazing in terms of collaboration and integration - something Linux simply cannot do at the present point in time.

Linux will really kick off once it has those elements built-in, and when it finally grows out of the cult status by naming apps and services properly. yum update? Why not just Updater Service or something sensible - and that applies to the majority of the linux stuff.

Windows has taken off due to the ease of use, then the stability came into play (from 2k onwards). Linux has the reverse, nice and stable - but it's still a bitch to get going from scratch. If you're a non-techncial user of a linux desktop box, and want to look at learning networking then you're truly stuck, cause so much HAS to be done via the terminal that it goes against what Windows stands for - ease of use.

Desktop side it won't take off until it changes from a GUI running in a shell environment to a full GUI that has access to a terminal. Linux for the desktop at the moment is similar to Windows 98/ME. A command line OS with a GUI application layer ran on top of it. If the GUI has a problem then forget it unless you're an admin or techie. Try getting you're gran to edit graphics settings in xorg.conf over the phone compared to booting into safe mode. (Vista detects a crash do shows the option to boot into safe mode when the box starts - Gran doesn't even need to press F8!)

It could go either way, and honestly I think there will also be a mix between Linux, Unix, Mac and Windows. Desktop Windows will be here for a good 10 years plus, server side will have at least 15% in 10 years time as well.

One point on the figures - we have over 300 servers here, 260 are Windows 2003. Not a single server came with Windows, we download it from the partner website. The same applies for volume licence agreements too.

I'd never buy a machine with an OS. For linux I'll get it from BitTorrent of FTP, for Windows I'd use our Enterprise agreement and get it from the MS website.


What about the rest?

"Figures from IDC, in May 2007, show Linux accounting for 12.7 per cent of the server market by revenue compared to Windows with 38.8 per cent of the market. Most of the remainder is Unix, although IBM mainframe still has a share."

"Unix" is a pretty vague term. If you divide down that remaining 48.5%, you will find a good number of BSD installations. For the rest of the world out there that seem to constantly forget about the freely available BSDs, they are a significant force in the server market. They are also technically superior and more robust than both Linux and (obviously) Windows!


Embedded systems

The article fails to mention the variety of devices driven by embedded Linux. AFAIK my Freeview box is, as is my broadband router and my mate's and his remote media players.

Anonymous Coward


Don't forget ReactOS, the open source implementation of Windows.

It's becoming relatively stable now with more and more windows applications and drivers working upon each release.


To Make Linux Work On The Desktop At Home

You need 2 things:



The Dreamweaver debate has been going on for years with most ways to get round it with WINE, but if Adobe created a version of Dreamweaver for Linux a lot of people would switch over.

Secondly all games need to work for Linux out of the box, All the kids playing games online would switch to Linux and get rid of thier dodgy Windows XP installs.

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Things to consider

A few things to consider.

The rise of Linux in the enterprise.

Much of this could be put down to the rise of the Web. No one doubts that Linux is very widley used her, but eventally it will hit a plateu. In the back oofice, a huge number of people are fans of MS SQL and wouldn't swap it for anything else.

Also, yes it may rise in developing countries, but places like China, if rumours are to belived are also looking at there own, unique O/S. That's a huge chunk to loose, especially for Linux.

As for the desktop, you forgot the comfort syndrome. Why do you think Skoda have had problems selling standard cars and Jap sports cars don't shift by the shed load? Brand power. Go up to the man in the street and say "What Operating system do you want?" How many would say, Oh I'd like xyz desktop running on top of xyz flavour of Linux.

I, for example am no fanboy, I use Windows, I tried Unbuntu and found no benifts to it (except it ran a little quicker) but loads of issues, just simply because of the "Oh it's not in such and such a place, or that's a bit geeky, no way my dad would understand that". Sure given time I may of liked it, but why should I bother. My pc is fine thanks.

Linux may get more pentration, but it's got a heck of a long way to go on the desktop. In the enterprise, Linux will sit in it's own areas alongside MS. Doubt either will push the other out to a huge degree.

Each OS has it's place, MS is better at some things, Linux at others. The 2 can co exist.

As for the MS getting desperate and threating to sue over unnamed patens, sounds a little similar to the Linux vs VMware issue highlighted today.

Both should put up or shut up...

Anonymous Coward

Could you imagine a Beowulf cluster of Linux boxes?

No, wait, sorry, wrong chat board... :(


Enterprise management on Linux?

"Linux will really kick off once it has those elements [directory, group policies, stuff for the enterprise] built-in"

That was Novell's plan: since they are way ahead of MS in all those areas, then delivering it all onto Linux (known as SLES and/or OES) should have been a winning combination. It's still fairly new, so too early to tell whether it will prove Steven right or not. I can't see why it wouldn't, but life doesn't always go that way.

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linux is the dominant OS already?

to expand Mountford D's comment:

many people use linux without realising it... a number of home broadband modem/routers, the tomtom go, the tivo, the KISS dvd media player...

people (S Hewitt) who think linux has nothing to offer against exchange and outlook haven't tried Zimbra or Scalix.

S Hewitt clearly hasn't tried KDE properly, as these apps have no command line equivalent. Nor has he tried a modern installer and setup which makes video setup trivial.

IME gnumeric is better than open office when it comes to excel compatibility, but that was a two years ago when I tried it.

Linux is not quite as trivial to install as, say, XP, but it has surpassed Win2000 in its manageability.

I think that vmware fusion will really give the Mac fanbois a boost.

The biggest problem IMHO is that windows gives people the impression that computers are simple devices that can be operated by untrained baboons, yet they are probably the most complex devices they will ever encounter, and so the average consumer will always end up secretly despising their machine... yes, even their macs, although they are the least worst option for ordinary people.


Embeded Systems (Pt 2)

I agree, I have the following linux systems at home running some sort of embeded linux:

Belkin wifi skype phone

Recevia wifi internet radio

Netgear DG835PN Router

Maxtor Shared Storage NAS

TomTom GPS

Sharp Zaurus C3000 pda

I have 2 windows desktops, and a windows work laptop,

so even excluding "standard" linux boxes, linux is predominant in my house.

Anonymous Coward


Until Linux can run all the games that home users enjoy, including all the big MMO's the most it can hope for in a typical home system is dual boot so the user can switch to Windows to play games. However when you are in Windows you may as well set your email up so you dont have to reboot to check your spam, and why not surf the internet with Windows.... Basically Windows does everything you need an OS to do for the typical home user, yes in poor countries where games cost 2 months wage Linux is a good choice (or BitTorrent), but in the developed world where we want DX10 eye candy Linux cannot compete.

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Vendor Support

Linux will never manage to dominate the desktop until two things occur:

1. Hardware manufacturers provide automatic driver support in the same way they do for Windows, and there's a seamless method for loading new drivers from disk in the same way that happens with Windows when it detects new hardware.

2. Software vendors release a Linux version of their apps either at the same time as the Windows version or even before. Said Linux apps to have the same or improved functionality compared to the Windows version.

The catch-22 is that there is little pressure for vendors to do this unless Linux starts being a significant desktop force, and it will never get to that stage without good vendor support.


Ubuntu Shmubuntu

Ubuntu is no easier to use than any other OS, and OSX is no easier to use than (eg) Mandriva or PCLinux.

And the thing that Linux and OSS has that no other system has is unlimited derivative works. If you don't understand this, you don't understand the economics at all.

There is no point writing anything about the future of Linux either as server or desktop without covering this.



@Steven Hewittt:

This is so much BS. I am no Linux fanboy, but I am a linux user sice 97.

I used it first for my nat/firewall/server. Was nice, you had managed distros which made the install a breeze, which it was NOT on any windows flavor at the time.

For my windows machines, at the time, I had a 95, I was quite a gamer, I used a bit visual studio 6, and it was about OK. had 98, 2000 workstation, XP

2000 workstation was the bes one IMHO, was relatively stable, very lightweight, worjing like a breeze. Only problem wasthe lack of support for game/Multimedia and taht at that pooint linux was doing that for me, and that all distro had a package management system which allowed to have application faster from a safe source and directly integrated in the system.

At some point in 98 I installed a slackware, which i did not like to much, and didmanage with my very little experience to get it running, X, some apps, ... veryinterestign but not fitting my needs, Quake 2 support was a bit low, I passed.

Then I started having a less game aoriented use of machines around 2000; and Linux/Debian became my faithful friend. emacs then vim, gcc, full shell capabilities, simple configuration (yes click and pray is something I hate)

At that point I had 4 machines running, and I could not be bothered to have an homegenous farm, so I continued to have mixed windows, Linux, even some Open BSD at some point. I am now thinking about some solaris x86 to be put on the old dual P2 motherboards I scavenged.

The point being that, since 2000, each and every time a Linux/BSD machine went down, I felt compelled to repair/replace it. Each and every time a windows machine goes down, it is stripped for parts and never replaced. nowdays only have a windows machine left, and that is only because I cannot be bothered to install a linux on it (which would be 40 minutes somehow)

What is the value of an OS that does not even have a proper file system management. And for all the user groups and things, I do believe that this is a simple copy of very old unix technology. I am not a windows specialist

But is it not something like

Active Directory = LDAP if Iremember well?

DNS ... well DNS has been on unixes for soooo long

Group policies : Uhuh, did I miss something, I believe that the concept of groups have been there on unixes sice before fire was invented.

I might be off the point here, I have not seen a windows server since I stopped working as a techy in corparate and institutional machines parks as summer job.

Exel spreadsheets are a joke, and should be discouraged at all cost. I have seen some guys using exel spreadsheets whith very small fields to do some graphic rendering. Well, doesn't it say it all.

And honestly, for offcial documents, there is no better output than a latex compiled document.

And I did work with IIS/Oracle/Asp and I was really happy to leave after finishing the mission (10 weeks), any more would have lead me to a painful death.

My current project manager has created a linux distro that is able to install trough network and boot fresh in less than 30 seconds and it is able to cope with heterogeneous hardware. It is using some semi permanent NFS cache to do that. It is used on 500 + machines and have shown so reliable that even the institutions servers are using this system : if the server crashes it gets a full reinstall in some minutes (for availability reasons, servers do not used the NFS cached install and need to download binaries)

I have never seen that with windows networks, where it was either a ghost and a full disk image for each kind of machines, or a recovery disk with streamlined installation.


re : Old News

Just to comment on Steven Hewitt's comments. I'm not starting a flame war here, but there are a few things to point out :-

- Nothing like Exchange for Windows - Well you can run GroupWise services on a Linux server, and in fact we do, several hundred users in a production environment. No worries.

- Enterprise Management Tools - ZENworks Linux Management - works quite nicely, easy to manage. ZEN Desktop Management services can install to a Linux server and manage Windows desktops quite happily.

- Active Directory? eDirectory has been on Linux since 2000 or OpenLDAP if you want it.

- DNS/DHCP etc., again, been on Linux for years. Coming very soon is DNS/DHCP integration with the directory

- OpenSUSE, Ubuntu etc., do do a lot now from the GUI, but you have the shell if you want it. OpenSUSE brought us XGL/Beryl etc. - wobbly windows, spinning cubes, windows bursting into flames, etc. All in the box, none of this "Windows Vista Ultimate SuperDuper Twin Exhaust Chavvy Edition" business. Paying for a graphics driver is faintly ridiculous

There's a lot of functionality and power out there in the Linux world, and most of the above have arrived in just the last couple of years. Like I say, I'm not up for a flame war, but those views appear dangerously dated to me.

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Just about all the Linux users that I know have switched to using Macs, almost all of them saying that they just want to use a Unix that works....

In embedded and server systems, quite probably

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Bold predictions

"The bald assertion that Linux will become dominant on the desktop eventually is just wishful thinking. Perhaps at home, but never in the office."

That's the point, if people use Linux at home, they get used to it. They then start to demand to be able to work at home with Linux and then they move to open formats.

>And the main reason for this is Microsoft Excel. Huge numbers of people in offices have fairly complex spreadsheets which they need to do their jobs.

Buy Crossover Office, you can run Excel in Linux.

" I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense."

Not everyone works with spreadsheets. Transition from any IT system to another always has pain. But convert to an open format and you can move easier, this is why people are advocating open standards.


Old News......

What is stopping Linux on the desktop are the three questions

You mean there is and alternative?

Yes there is and MacOSX proves it

Can I run Word/Excel/Access/Powerpoint on it ?

Yes you can, WINE anyone

Isn't that a hobbyist system ?

No, ask the people who are using it on production servers

The mess that is Exchange/IIS/Sharepoint is a nightmare to setup and maintain, please sign up for this three week course and read these big thick books, then call tech support .....

I got a LAMP server with a Wiki setup from scratch with no prior knowledge in 1 hour! (and most of that was the install time)

The various BSD's are the best versions of Unix to use if you want stability or security (pick your flavour for the facility you want) their only drawback is the difficulty of getting some software that works on Linux working on them, and your technical knowledge generally need to be higher

Please don't mention the joke that is ReactOS, if it ever takes off Microsoft will sue it out of the market, no matter how many code audits they do - It's a copy so it *will* violate copyright or if that is too hard to prove, it *will* violate patents .... no-one will trust enough it to use it

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Virtual AID

"Don't forget ReactOS, the open source implementation of Windows." Thank you for mentioning it.


Gradual establishment of Apache?

How can you possibly include Apache in the list of Linux apps which have "established" their position in the last decade? It is and has been well establish for well over a decade!

In terms of web server, if you check Netcrafts figures (, which are obviously based on real work data, not just who bought what from a few suppliers, you can see that Apache has in fact dominated the web server market since around 1996, with it maintaining around 60% of the market for most of that time.

OK, so from their stats Apache does seem to be having another dip, and IIS is rising again since last year, but it's still got a way to go before we see IIS taking the top spot.

Anonymous Coward

Windows is not main loser to Linux

This article is clearly just another Microsoft basher the glib comment "Microsoft, the main loser in the rise of Linux" gives it away.

In fact the biggest loser to Linux by far are the proprietary versions of Unix. In fact in some areas Windows is gaining back share from Linux - in the Web server space Microsoft is winning back market share from almost invisible 5 years ago to now being within 12 points of Linux.

The Smartfone comment is also at best an exageration or at worse just wrong. Windows Mobile and Blackberry both out sell Symbian unless you limit Smartfone to a very restrictive definiton. They are right though that Linux is a distant also ran in this market regardless of definition.

Now don't get me wrong, I think Linux has its place as finally giving a (more or less) uniform versions of "Unix" (yes I KNOW it's not really Unix, but it is its natural successor) but being totally dominant? I think that unlikely on the server and totally unbelievable on the client.

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React O/S?

Are you serious? This is from their Home Page. Fills me with confidence....

Short-term plan

The next release will be 0.3.3 which is loosely-scheduled to be released from a working trunk, in July.

Note: the 0.3.2 release was skipped due to several complex blockers, meaning the deadline was missed.

Medium-term plan

The coming 0.4 release series will still stay in alpha stage, and 0.5 release series will be marked as beta, meaning a system which is suitable for every day use.

Long-term plan

N/A at the moment.


And Home Servers

To add to Mountford - the article doesn't mention home servers either. I and many people I know use an old linux box as a cheap, upgradeable NAS box. Thank God for Samba!


@Steven Hewittt:


I suggest you need to use Linux a bit more.

Unix and its little sister Linux were hardened in university computing labs. These are environments with more than 100,000 accounts (more than 5,000 of those accounts being extremely hostile computer engineering students); more than 20,000 machines. Naturally these machines come with the "enterprise management tools" you claim are missing -- you just don't know their names.

The services provided by SMS, etc are provided by installer scripts, package managers (apt, yum), and configuration daemons (cfengine). The services provided by Active Directory are provided by LDAP and PAM. Group policies are provided by groups :-)

I've used the Window's collaboration tools. And I really suggest you need to go and look at the web-based forums and wikis to see collaboration done right.

As for naming, you are joking. Excel? It sounds like a gym training programme.

As for the terminal v GUI, I don't see that it matters. MacOS is a pretty good demonstration of a fine shell over the top of a command line.

Your reference to "gran" misses the point. My gran runs Linux because of Windows' behavior under stress. I'd get these calls at work saying "what does Safe Mode mean" and have to get her to run up regedit and read values to me. With Linux I just ssh in and fix the thing.

Windows isn't ready for the enterprise. This was bought home to me the other day when I asked for a small utility to be added to both Linux and Windows. The Linux people added the name of the package to a dependency list kept in a package named "standard-operating-environment" and the package would be pulled onto every Linux machine that night. The Windows people queued my change to the next "SOE rebuild", a nine day event were a poor sod runs almost 100 installers and re-creates the corporate disk image.

As for Exchange, don't make me laugh. Google uses Linux-based technology to deliver e-mail accounts with 2GB of storage for $0. How much are you paying for an Exchange CAL?

Microsoft has its strengths. Systems administration and maintenance isn't one of them.

Cheers, Glen

Anonymous Coward

It's the economy, ...

The elephant in the room is cost.

Linux has some upsides and downsides in terms of cost. Per-seat or per-install licensing fee is zero, which is attractive if you're not swimming in cash. But lack of vendor support creates higher maintenance costs than a commercial OS that "just works" on a vendor-blessed hardware config.

Consumers aren't rational (sorry economists), so whether or not it makes much economic sense, the price tag on the OS is going to drive people to Linux when cash dries up, as it is rapidly doing at the moment. Linux is typically thought of as a cheap OS that'll run fast enough on old hardware to extend its life--exactly the use case for a cash-strapped organization or consumer.

That's *exactly* why I switched to Linux from Mac OS and Windows at home--I can't afford new hardware, and Mac OS is really, really slow on old hardware (I blame the microkernel OS for its abysmal I/O performance), and my x86 laptop is underpowered for Vista, leaving me with an upgrade path I can't afford.

The flipside of this is that when cash is available, commercial OS's will win, because when you buy hardware it's already been made to work with the OS, which saves an enormous amount of tinkering that is still necessary in flashy Linux distros like Ubuntu, try as they might to address this problem. Linux distros can improve, and a flagging economy will slow the obsolence of hardware, giving Linux more time to work out driver bugs, but the economy is the big independent variable that Linux and commercial OS vendors can't control.


You crack me up....

To comment further on Steven Hewitt's comments. I don't give a damn if we get into a flame war, you clearly have not done your research:-

- There is nothing like Exchange for Linux

Thank Christ for small mercies - Exchange is limited in functionality. If you want a true collaboration run IBM/Lotus Domino. Top notch support for a commercial offering with true collaborative applications.

Oh yeah and there's the small matter of Lotus Notes running natively on Windows, MAC and LINUX too. In case you don't know Lotus Notes is the client component that provides all the end user tools a user could want.

The latest and greatest release has in-built productivity editors (similar to Open Office), making Lotus Notes a one stop solution for many businesses wishing to run a supported Linux environment at the desktop.

Honestly, I can't believe I'm the first to point this out, the bias towards Microsoft when discussing Linux is simply staggering.



The point is choice

I see a lot of people trying to put down Linux and then hail the virtues of MS. This article may be may not...the real point is that it is time for choice. MS is too dominant and they have created a computer world where you don't have choice...with hardware vendor games...among many other things. Their time is over. They have no place to go but down. Apple could be considered an alternative, but since it cannot run on traditional i386 hardware it really isn't competing against MS they are competing for hardware sails and just happen to be using an alternative OS. So that leaves us with Unix variants the chief of whom is Linux. I think everyone should want to see Linux succeed so that we can see an end to one dominant OS and see the rise of choice and freedom...yea maybe it won't be Linux...maybe Linux will never be the greatest OS, but as long as they keep gaining ground it will leave the market open for other OS's to come up and compete against MS. And I don't even mean a market where MS is whipped out and replaced...I want a market where Linux variants and MS and perhaps some other OS can stand side by side as perfectly valid OS's.

For now the only OS that comes close for me is I will continue to root it on until finally we have choice in our operating systems.


Dominant : Ask the wrinklies....

I've been using a pc for, oh, a long time. The first computer I ever had was an Acorn Electron. Elite is probably the best game ever.!!

I've been using Linux for about five / six years. My laptop right now is a dual boot XP/ Fedora7 machine.

About a year ago I bought my folks a new laptop. I dual booted it, suse and xp. They had a while to play with it and finally settled on xp.

Why ? Is XP more stable ? Does it have more features, is it more flexible ? The answer to these and other questions is, always NO.

So why did they choose to stick with xp and remove the suse partition ?

It is simple. XP was designed for my folks, linux is designed for me. Plug in a camera, xp finds it. Shove in a dvd, it plays. USB memory sticks, scanners, printers, all just appear.

Sure, you can add them all to Linux, but who wants to /mount every time you want to look at a picture on your external HD ?

Who wants to 'build' software when you simply want to 'load' it?

Who wants to spend hours researching the best 'xxxx' product only to find that there are no 'open source' drivers for it and you end up having to but 'the runner up product xxxx' ?

Well, the answer to that is, not my folks.

This is an old chestnut, but one worth repeating.

Linux will not replace commercial OS's until the open source ppl realise that sometimes, simplicity is what is needed.

I understand WHY dvd's dont play on Linux 'out of the box', but my folks don't really care about that.

Commercial will always win out, or at least until EVERYTHING is open source, and that will never ever happen.

Anonymous Coward

As for Gran...

Well, I am a Linux fanboy and I made it all teh way to the end of teh artical, and thought it made some interesting points.

Personally, I will be buy an iMac as my next PC, why? because I just want it to work. I dont wnat to be set this that and the other. I would install Linux, but the amount of config just leaves me cold, its not a hard task, if I need any servers, these will be Linux/BSD/x86 Solaris.

I actual think manual command line config is much better then GUI config, sure it looks harsh, but its much easier and more reliable IMO. Plus you learn something about how your computer works. I always think it is best to try and use the command line tools before using the GUI. I had to learn how to manually compile C# .net code from the command line, and I actual learnt a far bit.

As for Gran, other then SSH which has been mentioned, there is this lovely little service, called WebMin to remotely access a computer. And a user will learn what you put in front of them.

The whole Groups/LDAP thing has been mentioned before, and shows you what Microsoft is good at, its not software, its FUD.

With the advent of VMWare etc, the few application that I cant run on the iMac I will run under Virtualisation.

Excel, if your company is using majorly complex Excel spreadsheets, it has obivously missed the point of databases and software like sage for doing accounts. Really a spread sheet shouldnt be complex at all, and I am sure as Linux raise as a desk top, we will see companies bring out converts etc. I do wonder how user will handle converting their so complex spread sheets to MS "open" format.

"Windows Mobile and Blackberry both out sell Symbian" -- Erm dude, I think you should stick your head back in the sand Symbian, is all those lovely nokia and SonyEricsson smart phones. Plus of course the new Moto Z1(?). Windows Smartphone just dosnt do it, and never has, it completely misses the point, and tries to squeeze a general purpose OS on a phone, when, what you really need is a specailised OS built to the issues and problems of running a handset.

Weather Linux is on the raise, or decline is neither here nor there, it is the choice that is important, and it is that choice that MS fear, because as the alternatives become more attractive they will actual start having actual write decent software, and not just any old crap cos teh user has no choice.


Why windows sucks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fanboy.. I only switched to linux because I needed to for work (work from home programming), and managed to bork my dual boot config so I'm stuck in linux till I get around to fixing it.. going on a year now.. Just don't have the desire to.

The biggest thing that makes me love linux for the desktop is the ability to 'kill -9'... Windows has to ask the frozen program nicely to close.. 'kill' does just that, instantly, irrevocably kills the offending PID. If windows had a foolproof kill, I'd be happier using it.

Anonymous Coward

Proprietory OS's: The opiate of the masses.

My desktop PC does what *I* decide it should do 100% of the time. Why? Because I run Linux (that's GNU/Linux to you).

Sure, its taken me years of learning abouts the guts of the machine and hard computer science to get to this point, but now I can smugly announce to all proprietory OS suckers:-

Knowledge is Power. Your knowledge is ultimately limited and therefore so is your power.

Who do people come whinging to when their (Windows/Mac) PC's fail to work as they expect? Yep. Yours Truly.

You only run Windows on your desktop because you're not smart / interested enough to do otherwise.



A Better OS

The actual kernel of Windows (that is, Dave Cutler's kernel32.dll) is the best operating system in existance today. Remember, when NT was defined around 1990, UNIX systems were just beginning to support concurrency and threads, while NT had all that plus events, completion ports, multiple heaps, async I/O, modules with formal interfaces, and many other modern features. Linux has just been playing catch-up.

It's too bad we cannot get the best of both worlds, like the NT Kernel + Direct3D + Apple's user interface. That would be the best system you could build out of existing software technology. OS X is OK, at least it's an object-oriented rewrite of the aging monolithic UNIX kernel.

As for open source, until they do something original, and not just reverse engineer commercial software ideas, I don't think it would be healthy for them to dominate. It sends a signal that innovation is not profitable, that Stallman and his buddies will just steal your ideas and put you out of business.


I've switched to Linux from Mac

I used to be a Mac user, but when a friend of mine showed me his Dell running Ubuntu I was swayed back by the cheaper cost of PC hardware and the speed and abilities of Linux.

Since making the switch it has been wonderful, too. I used to think installing applications on the Mac was a situation where everything "just works" but that was unfortunately often not the case. Ubuntu is much more reliable, with the ability to manage all the files as "packages" that you can install and uninstall with the click of a mouse, and it handles resolving all the dependencies AND upgrading them automatically when updates are released.

Yes, it still has its rough edges, but for an operating system that is so young, I can't see how it will go anywhere but up from here on out.



@Martin Benson, that is a load of hog wash! Micheal Meeks has done 99% of the work to get 99% of complex spreadsheets running WITH macros and VBA running on open office. Open office is currently undergoing a massive profiling and performance enhancing process and by the end of it (2.4/2.6) should be an easy competitor to Excel, and if not my software (Wine-Doors) will be shipping office2003 packages in the near future.

@TheReg, the adage used to be fast, cheap good pick any two, with open source you're looking at fast, good, pick any two. The whole debate over who sells the most servers is bull anyway. Most people running linux servers either purchase components and slap them together, or purchase a server with nothing on it, thats because Linux admins know how to do what they want to, and don't need the manufacturer to pre-install all the crud they want, the admin then tottles off to a distributors website and downloads the OS free.

The same truth of linux can be applied to desktop machines also, I know a boat load of people who buy windows machines then install linux on them, killing the license (some ask for refunds as allowed under the terms of the MS EULA) sales figures look skewed in comparison to reality because Linux is free as in freedom and can be downloaded from anywhere its hosted which is a lot of places. WRT sales Linux will always show poorly because people don't pay for linux on their desktop, and rarely do they buy it pre-installed on their servers.

I agree that ubuntu is the way forward, essentially a community of people who've had enough and want to make a change without buying a mac, all parts of fedora are better bar package management (try DKMS for drivers, its like heaven). Linux will eventually be dominant in all arenas simply because when the platforms (hildon, hiker, mono etc...) go live it gives companies the chance to capitolise on that code without having to own licenses and forge ahead with developing on top of something closed that they've got _some_ leighway with.

Linux isn't just for developers though, its for monkeys and humans alike!



I'm not saying Linux doesn't have these tools or products, but just that they're not a patch on the MS verions.

As I said, the core OS is superb, and for firewalling, databases, virtulization etc - Linux rocks.

Of course I know that AD is based on LDAP, and I also know that DNS has been running on non-MS OS's since I was in nappies. Which leads me onto my next statements,

I've used Novell products, and they have nothing on MS. AD, with group policies, DNS Dynamic Updates with DHCP, SMS/MOM, Exchange 2007/SharePoint 2007 etc. Yes, similar products are on Linux, and yes they work very well. But they are about 5 - 7 years behind MS. (Have you used OWA 2007?!!?!?! Or Outlook Anywhere - how about using WebDAV THROUGH your mail server to access you're My Docs or a file share?!)

I'm not knocking Linux, and of course I understand that the majoriy of the MS stuff is built from standards that were developed first for Linux or other Unix based OS's - but what they have done in the last 5 - 10 years compared to the equivilent on Linux is just miles ahead!


Outdated and inexperienced but thats just the aged windows fanbois

Well sorry but I have to look at the people saying about cant use linux to hard to set up and configure.

They obviously havent looked at linux since red hat 5 if infact they ever have and are not just repeating each others arguements ad infinitum without evidence.

Put an ubunu cd in the drive click install, answer 3 questions, get a cuppa and its all done up running and secure .

none of this windows stuff put the cd in answer a load of questions try andget that 2 gazillion digit cd code to go in right wait 45 minutes watch whilst it says click to reboot or im going to reboot then asks more questions then you finally get a desktop.

Modern linux is much faster, simpler and easier to install than windows.

The only area where windows beats linux nowadays is games and drivers for the latest greatest hardware and nowadays many of the bigger manufacturers are releasing linux drivers anyway.

As for the person that couldnt open a plain excel spreadsheet in open office I can only assumed they spent hours of investigation to find something that open office cant handle as I have had no problem and have opened up hundreds of screadsheets from many excel versions without a problem.

Anonymous Coward

windows has a fool proof kill!

Thats your only reason for not using windows!

End the process not the task or use the excellent Dtaskmanager.

Anonymous Coward

Lots of uninformed comments... Here's another

"Exel spreadsheets are a joke, and should be discouraged at all cost. I have seen some guys using exel spreadsheets whith very small fields to do some graphic rendering. Well, doesn't it say it all."

Actually there's a fully working version of pac man written entirely in Excel using that same method. It's testimony to its power.

"That's the point, if people use Linux at home, they get used to it. They then start to demand to be able to work at home with Linux and then they move to open formats."

Um no, it works the other way round. The company mandates the OS and the employees want to use it at home.

"Excel, if your company is using majorly complex Excel spreadsheets, it has obivously missed the point of databases and software like sage for doing accounts. Really a spread sheet shouldnt be complex at all, and I am sure as Linux raise as a desk top, we will see companies bring out converts etc. I do wonder how user will handle converting their so complex spread sheets to MS "open" format."

I work in banking, before that pharmaceuticals. These people love Excel and it will be a cold day in hell before they give it up. I think you need to get some real world experience and see why they feel like that.

"You only run Windows on your desktop because you're not smart / interested enough to do otherwise."

Why do I have to be interested? This is a huge part of the problem. As mentioned above, Linux is developed by developers for developers. Toaster XP will work out of the box, will be compatible with my bread and will let me turn a dial to make it more toasty or less toasty.

Ubuntu toaster will, well there's a web comic called xkcd. One shows a man on the phone with a knife in his head in front of a toaster with an arm. The dialog goes:

stabbed: "Hi, I just bought your toaster and I put the bread in and an arm popped out and stabbed me in the head"

Support: "Did you read the man page?"

stabbed: "Uh no I just wanted toast"

Support ">click<"

Says it all.


Nothing stays dominant forever

OEMs providing Linux pre-installed on systems you can buy, as Dell have started doing, takes away one huge problem for the average home user - the install. Bear in mind Windows is only "easy to install" because most people never have to, it comes ready to go on their new system, and the restore disk is usually just a reimaging tool. If they can also iron out the licensing issues for media formats, and pre-install those, then one less problem exists to put people off.

Further, if the Linux desktop gains traction in enterprises, or through roll-outs in government offices, schools, etc., that will drive demand for commercial support, will raise awareness of alternatives to MS Office, and will ultimately help it gain support from home users. Businesses are beginning to understand the benefits of open formats, and the bottom line matters; if switching to a Linux desktop with OpenOffice will ultimately help them make more profit by avoiding ongoing license fees and reducing hardware costs, they'll seriously consider it and may end up taking that route even if they have to initially pay to retrain users.

What makes it in the office is important. Remember that the people who got into home computing in the last decade or so largely chose what they knew from the office, and that was Windows. If what they know from the office changes to something else, then that something else has a better chance of making it in the home market.

Games will be a sticking point for some, but really, how many people bought their home PC for playing games? The Internet was the "killer app" that made ordinary people want computers at home, and the Internet isn't tied to Windows, despite MS' best efforts in the past.

Steven Hewitt's first 2 sentences are totally wrong. Linux has changed dramatically in 10 years, from something suitable only for hardcore geeks, to something which is perfectly capable of meeting most computing needs, if given the chance to.

I tried Linux 10 years ago and despite my Unix experience, it just wasn't the right fit for me, too much effort for no real benefit. At the time Windows XP arrived to market, Linux still wasn't quite there for my needs. A year later, it had improved enough to take over my desktop. Since then I've seen it evolve and improve with every release, yet without needing me to invest in all-new hardware to enjoy those improvements. Linux today is a much more polished product than it was in 2002, never mind 1997.

During that same time period after XP, Microsoft gave us a couple of service packs, lots of patches to solve security issues, and finally squeezed out Vista, several years late, hardware intensive and plagued with problems. They'll get those problems fixed, but unless they reinvent how they develop Windows, they can't hope to keep up with their competition.

Linux as the dominant desktop OS won't happen tomorrow, maybe it won't ever happen, but if it was as insignificant a threat to the Windows monopoly as some people seem to believe, why are Microsoft showing every sign of being very worried by the possibility that it could, in fact, take great big lumps out of their market share where it hurts the most, at a time when Windows may be more vulnerable to competition than it has ever been?

Anonymous Coward


Steven Hewitt :"(Have you used OWA 2007?!!?!?! Or Outlook Anywhere - how about using WebDAV THROUGH your mail server to access you're My Docs or a file share?!)"

You want to start comparing things with Outlook Web Access? Oh my god! Where have you been? Mama's basement? Did you ever get laid or something? OWA is probably the worst thing Redmond ever build. Please, leave it alone. It's enough you have humiliate youself.

Just to give you a taste of "presently electronic mail services" :

You can ask Google to host your domain's e-mail. Free as in free beer. That's one. Number two, in Zimbra, you can hover your mouse on a text containing an address then a box appears showing map of that address. Courtesy of Yahoo Maps.


I love it when Mepis is completely ignored

This line?


This situation changed a little with the advent of the Ubuntu distribution of Linux, which was much easier on the user, but not anything like as easy as OS X.


cracked me up. Mepis was released in 2003, long before Ubuntu was even an idea in Mark Shuttleworth's mind... and as is? Ubuntu is still light years behind Mepis in terms of ease of use. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the situation changed a LOT 4 years ago with a Linux Distro that was far easier than Mac OSX. So please, knock off the comments that Ubuntu did anything. It didn't. Mepis was there first, and we would kindly like people to be reporting that fact.


Mepis? LOL!

Don't make me laugh; Mepis is nothing more than a derivative work of Pemis! Pemis 0.0001a had kernel-mode messaging obfuscation waaaaay back in 2001! Mepis is teh suck compared to Pemis; don't even think of claiming the glory that rightly belongs to Oorjart Kermverhaagen! (Since 2001, lusers! Long may he reign!)


Now lets get back to reality........

Linux may exist in you Car SatNav or mini walkman but is it ready for real world, real corporate desktops?

I've played with it, interogated it and found it....quite frankly...the most boring thing since they announced the "Segway".

Look, if you don't make it user friendly, particularly installing software (hell why TFu** should I open an application installer when I can click a .exe file fo it to install for me without pissi** about with another boring application to do the job)

Hell, I want to find my files and put them where I want without having to spend 2 weeks learning how to. "Drag drop done".

Want to make it user friendly? Do what windows does without having to hit the terminal every 5 seconds.

Silver badge

Nothing like a good bun fight for a few laughs !

" I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense."

Well that says more about how people have allowed one company to take ownership of their data, and the insanely crap file formats cobbled together over the years. Microoft deliberately make formats such as Excel hard to work with - because once it's easy to work with YOUR data in YOUR choice of program then Micro$oft have lost their proprietry lock-in. Why do you think they are trying so hard to get their "proprietry and not independently usable" file formats ratified as a 'standard' ? The real question should be aimed at Microsoft - why is it so difficult to share data effectively with the rest of the world ?

Someone mentioned DHCP and DNS - these SUCK big time on Windows. The DHCP server is seriously broken and in no way complies with standards. The DNS server is equally broken. There are better alternatives for both which contrary to comments made have supported dynamic DNS updates (properly and securely) for many years - and the ONLY reason they don't interoperate securely with Micro$ofts versions is that (yet again) Micro$oft have done their "not quite standards based but good enoough to fool some of the people some of the time" proprietry stuff.

But for those that say Windows is easier to use, well I agree - as long as you are happy to do what Microsoft says you can do, how Microsoft says you can do it, and when Microsoft says you can do it. The moment you want to do something that Microsoft hasn't decided there's a market for, then Linux (or BSD, or ...) lets you do it (with some effort), whilst Windows just gets in the way.


Re: A Better OS

Oh yes, the original basis for the NT kernel (as developed by IBM engineers, you understand) is a testament to current Windows version stability and high performance in well-written, fully Windows-worthy server applications. But to somehow insist that Unix was in need of, or is in any way behind in regard to, most of what (even today) are second-class and redundant features is laughable (I've never seen anyone actually use I/O completion ports for much, for instance). If select() wasn't the thing (and it and its ilk like epoll() and, more recently, BSD kevents are still not) the things) that define high-availability, very scalable kernel-event-notified (note I don't distinguish async from sync here as it's largely immaterial in skillful, well-written stuff, but even so Posix AIO is way ahead of NT) servers (no matter what Microsoft try to bullshit you with - and believe me, they *will* keep trying), then I don't know what is. Oh, and select() is brought to you courtesy of BSD, thank you very much, and many years ahead of NTOS - Microsoft's implementation is absolutely despicable, and even now doing something as simple as, oh, I don't know - taking multiplexed input from both a serial port and a TCP connection - is best done using that old favourite on a Unix-like OS. Because, quite simply, Unix-likes are known for bringing us atomic and simple constituent parts in early years that get deployment and usage to greatest effect in today's best-served applications. Don't get me wrong - it's not that neither IBM, Microsoft or Unix-like developers always got it right, and even now a vast amount of work on Linux is in optimizing a poor but common choice of usage patterns like fork() (now vfork()), but that doesn't mean the features are not originally developed on or available for any given platform and the strongest sellers in particular areas related to concurrency or otherwise are most certainly not always Windows. I certainly think interactive applications on Linux have been a stumbler for a long time, but that has so much more to do with Unix history (Windows was and always is, to its inevitable weakness in certain cases, a graphical OS) and less to do with technical defficiencies; likewise, out-of-box scalability is a severe Windows weakness that Linux fostered real interest in dealing with. Linux is most certainly not a copycat - many features in the Vista kernel are now nothing but catchups against common extensions to free Unix-likes. If you don't believe me, learn more about the memory manager, window manager, SMP support, TCP/IP stack and the low-latency audio subsystems in Vista. Go on, I dare you. Double double dare even, as long as you promise not to insist I kiss you. Ugh!




No no no

you don't get it no we don't need Linux to have the

dominant desktop nor even be the dominant anything

people don't really need to be using computers at all

and they really don't need to inconvenience me by

forcing Linux to pander to stupid people like Ms does

Since pinheads abound the more unfriendly to the

uneducated and ignorant the better no dumbing of

Linux I am sick of this pattern they have their little

Windows nice bloated operating system for stupid people

don't change that.B ark people keep using windows



Cooks versus the diners: No soup for Linux

My own experiences suggest that the Linux hackers are actually the worst enemy of Linux. Most people have no aspiration of being master chefs, but most of the current Linux users seem to think everyone should be doing a little cooking of their own.

I think that's the main problem that Ubuntu is trying to tackle, and while they are doing a better job than the other Linux distros, they're still falling short. On the merits of the OSes alone, Ubuntu would be quite adequate for most users, and considering the price, it should be ahead of Windows. My own experiences with a local Linux group make me think that the main reason for this is that most Linux people talk a lot about how helpful they want to be, but in reality they're quite disdainful of the average diner.

Microsoft is disdainful, too, but for the sake of the money they are motivated to hide it while they shove their disgusting Microsoft goo down the diners' throats. (However, I'm using Ubuntu about 90% of the time at home. Take that, Microsoft.)


linux is my home desktop

I'm not a developer, but a home user with no Unix family training. Until 2004, my only experience was with DOS/Windows, except for using RDOS for 2 years in the '80's. I didn't jump from Windows to Linux as my home desktop until getting pre-SP2 XP and using it for a year. I moved to Linux because of XP's reliability, configurability, and sufficient Windows' compatibility to give me a reason to stick with Windows. What kept me with Linux (Fedora) is that it is easier to install, configure, and maintain that Windows.

I consider myself (and the neighbor that I converted) proof that Linux is ready for the common user's desktop. It's merely a matter of overcoming inertia.



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