back to article Linux at 17 - What Windows promised to be

On October 5, 1991, the young man who would one day become the world's most famous programmer - and the brand name and poster boy for the open source software movement - sent a message to a newsgroup announcing the birth of what would become the Linux operating system. You can read that original message that marks the birth of …

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Linux

Happy B'Day Tux!

Well, I only knew Linux for 8 years, but in the 8 years I knew it, I grew to love it.

Happy Birthday!

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Paris Hilton

Happy birthday linux

Could The Reg perhaps celebrate the auspicious day by introducing the 'evil linux' icon we (well, me and I think there was someone else) have been clamouring for?

Mind you with linux having achieved <1% share in those 17 years (Gartner's figures are backed up by Net Applications' MarketShare stats), maybe The Reg Comment Icons Overlords take the same view as just about every commercial software house and hardware manufacturer, and regard linux as such a tiny niche market that it's not worth supporting ...

Paris 4 Prez!

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Anonymous Coward

The next major OS

is the one that nobody has heard of yet.

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Computer says no

reasons Linux isn't suitable for *me* yet:

Outlook

Exchange

Active Directory

It's not windows itself that stops me from switching full time, it's the functionality that's available to me in an understandable and accessible way. God knows Windows is flawed, and Linux has the potential to destroy it, but these 3 things are what keep me with Windows.

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Anonymous Coward

These comments

Or, at least the attitude expressed by a fair number of them, is what puts me off being "Pro-Linux". I just can't get that smug "I'm doing the right thing by sticking it to the man" attitude right.

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re: Platforms and Windows and Linux

You're more than somewhat wrong.

The platforms were right (and I did know the i860, briefly). x86 was taken because porting and supporting on multiple platforms was quite costly and MS didn't *have* to support multiple platforms when they had gained market presence.

NT was marketed for those platforms because it gave the PHB masses an excuse to thing that the same OS on his desktop would work as the server OS too. Consolidation! If it had supported only x86 it wouldn't have made the market entrance because the CPU architecture was all NOT x86.

It had nothing to do with "speed" of the x86. IPC was pretty crap. It was cheap because of it and much cheaper because they were making so many. Alphas were MUCH faster. And the IO architecture (and boot process: read about the boot processes for platforms in Linux) meant that the system could scale VASTLY further. The x86 shred bus meant that it wasn't worth multiple CPUs so your server was limited to the max speed of the x86. Sun/Alpha/etc were limited by a slower top speed CPU but

a) more CPUS scaled up beyond the fastest x86

b) IO benefits mean it handles more processes without waste unlike x86

Once NT was the biggest single market, the other CPUs were dropped. For MS's benefit only.

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Stop

re: Have I Done Something Wrong?

You haven't done anything NEW wrong. You've just kept along the same awkward, sueless flamebait shite you always did.

Ever hear of the phrase "the straw that broke the camel's back"?

Even amanfrommars learnt to occasionally put something sensible or actually funny in his posts.

Try NOT being a dick occasionally.

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Stop

@BlueGreen

It's worthless telling us what OS you were using when it is the application that's wanting in the installation of the application.

If you used a virtualisation program that is GPLd you wouldn't have to do all that palaver.

Ever tried installing Oracle on Windows? Arcanity is not severe enough to the incantations necessary.

PS Lee: Windows 1 was Windows???? BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!

Snurk.

Windows was not an OS until 3.0.

Unless you would count Norton Commander an OS.

And even 3.0 went nowhere (less than Linux 0.2) it only became useful over DOS on 3.1. I assessed Windows for work on 3.0 and it was basically "Don't try to work two applications at the same time on Windows. Work on one at a time and use the OS to help swap between them". 3.1 was the first one where you could have two applications tiled on the screen and work on both.

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Stop

re: Part of the problem not the solution

You've never designed hardware, have you. You've never written a driver or an OS either, have you.

If you had, you'd KNOW that there are SIGNIFICANT differences between architectures. As an appliction writer you don't see these differences because the OS abstracts them for you and you "see" one type of computer.

Which is what an OS ***is***. It's the basis of writing applications. Not, as MS would have it, a web browser, art program, directory service, virus magnet,....

It means you run "malloc". You don't care if the TLA buffer requires a 4Kmodulous memory alignment so you have to run either a 4K malloc or combine several memory requests into a 4K block. The OS does that for you.

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Gates Halo

Bill Gates is a more famous programmer

"...the young man who would one day become the world's most famous programmer..."

Calm yourselves fan bois but I think it has to be said that Bill Gates is the world's most famous programmer. Ask the man on the street who Linus Torvalds is and I'm guessing you'd draw a blank stare.

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Flame

@ Webster Phreaky

Glad to see your acting as grown up as ever,

You give a 2007 source (that probably isn't accurate- as its counting sales.) Linux stats are never accurate.

If you didn't notice its near the end of 2008 now (unless you actually are stuck in a time warp)

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@Steen Hive

I mean - that's practically name theft !

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Anonymous Coward

okay...

Linux has some pretty major problems to sort out:

It doesn't have a common installer

It doesn't have a common package installer/update system

The people starting projects choose stupid names, which are not business like. (Can you seriously ever see a major commercial enterprise using software called Gimp? And MySQL just sounds toy-town.)

The community is riddled with in-fighting and bitching, pretty much like left wing political groups of the 80s, and like them they miss the whole point of what is being done to have an ideological war over trivial matters - Ever seen commecrical software fork?

The community slag off anyone who raises something they don't want to hear.

No matter what anyone says, it is not ready for the desktop (unless all you need is a simple office suite, internet browsing, a media player and storage).

Once these are sorted out, I'm pretty confident that it will start to make much larger in-roads into business desktop and the home. I'm waiting for the point where I can un-virtualise my linux and virtualise my Windows, but I can't see it at any point soon.

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Thumb Down

@BlueGreen

"Tell ya what, why don't you try it (on centos, like me)? Note the bit where it asks for location of the headers matching the kernal, and then asks where gcc lives."

The reason the VMWare install for windows doesn't ask you where "visual studio" lives is that those nice folks at vmware have already done the grunt work for you, saving you the bothersome $200 you would have to pay for visual studio. - or alternatively the couple of GB download and install of Visual Studio Express, Platform SDK and Windows Driver Kit.

Actually for many common flavours of linux, vmware do provide precompiled kernel modules, but as the kernel advances you have a pretty good chance of making it work on your own, at the cost of your time.

If you would be smart enough to check that VMWare was compatible with your version of windows, why not the same for any other OS? Free Software expands your choices instead of limiting them - unless you are the sort whose cup is always half-empty, of course.

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Gates Horns

re: okay...

> It doesn't have a common installer

Neither does Windows. A new installer is included with each package. See Loki's installer. Does exactly the same thing. But the owner of the commercial app wants to write their own. Not Linux's fault.

It doesn't have a common package installer/update system

> Neither does Windows. Because to get the full experience you need several packages from other companies and they have their own updater (or none)

> The people starting projects choose stupid names, which are not business like.

Well Firefox was going to be called "Firebird" but a DATABASE company complained that the name was taken and so the WEB BROWSER couldn't use it. Maybe because someone would install their application and phone helpdesk and ask "I can't see google!".

So what sensible names are left?

And what the FUCK does "excel" have to do with SPREADSHEETS???

>The community slag off anyone who raises something they don't want to hear.

Have you not considered they may slag you off for being a frigging idiot? Nah, must be THEIR fault, not yours.

> No matter what anyone says, it is not ready for the desktop

So nobody else can make that claim because you say it can't? Who died and made you Emperor???

> I'm waiting for the point where I can un-virtualise my linux and virtualise my Windows, but I can't see it at any point soon.

And if people hadn't complained, MS would have denied you any chance of virtualising Windows unless you buy a special version. And Linux isn't ready for the desktop because of what again???

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Gates Halo

re: These comments

However, you've got the snooty "you're all just posing" pile of shite talking point down pat.

MS lover.

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Gates Horns

re: Bill Gates is a more famous programmer

Bill Gates isn't a programmer any more than I am. He's famous because he's rich and he's rich because his parents were loaded and well connected. And he exploited it to the max.

He's a lawyers son, not a programmer.

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Flame

Whisper anything loudly enough...

...and people start believing you.

Do you know how many times I've heard that "linux is hard to install" jibe over the years? When I first heard it, then yes, it was certainly true, but no longer and not for some considerable time. I can vouch for both openSUSE and for Puppy, both of which I have installed more than once and Ubuntu which has any number of recommendations and first hand accounts as being as easy as 1: Put in the CD, 2: Follow the instructions on screen and 3: Wait for it to finish. Now where does that differ from any Windows installation since W95?

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Stop

Cheaper? Erm, really?

"The lower price tag for commercial support compared to proprietary and Unix alternatives didn't hurt the commercialization of Linux either."

I must admit my sides are still aching from this classic. I run a large mixed estate and out Linux on x86 servers works out as probably the most expensive systems we have. By the time we have bought the tin, bought support for the tin, bought a linux distro and bought support for it the cost is usually over an "expensive proprietary" system. Add in the extra support time for supporting the commodity hardware and Linux starts to look very expensive compared with other systems.

However, the biggest problem that Linux has is the same issue that Windows has; it runs on OEM hardware. IBM, Sun and Apple are always going to be able to provide a more stable experience as they can test their OS and drivers against a known set of hardware options. With Windows and Linux, a single bad driver can really kill the reliability of a system.

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Gates Horns

@FathomsDowns

Find a new supplier. This one is buttfucking you.

Unless you're talking shite (or mixing up five-nines support on Linux with "office hours" support on your other platform).

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Gates Horns

Now where does that differ from any Windows installation since W95?

In that you don't need 10 installation CD's for drivers for your hardware.

Oh, and no activation/WGA.

Apart from that Linux is there.

Only a two more things to do...

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Linux

Linux not ready for the desktop?

Those people who say Linux isn't ready for the desktop must be using some version of Windows I've never seen. I've recently hard the lack of pleasure in rebuilding several machines because of hardware changes and Windows is a total pain. On the other hand, installing Hardy Heron is so easy that I feel cheated -- surely I ought to have to do some work to fix something weird. Nope. It just works.

I'm seriously considering getting my Aged P off that vista thing that gives her and me so much trouble and installing Ubuntu instead. All she wants is mail, web browsing and a bit of photo handling.

There's a lot of ignorance about the Linux platform. Unfortunately, the ability to choose what's right for you (rather than the One True Redmond Way) means that people can choose what's wrong for them and it's /having/ the choice that confuses the hell out of a lot of people: they winge about confusing messages. Would you prefer to live in a world where there is no choice about which car you drive, which brand of chocoate you eat, which bank you lose your money with?

Linux's diversity is its strength and will ensure that it lives on for a good while yet.

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@Mark, @Steen Hive

Mark: "If you used a virtualisation program that is GPLd you wouldn't have to do all that palaver."

I mentioned trying and failing to install virtualbox, which I understand is GPLd: <http://www.virtualbox.org/wiki/GPL>. IIRC it also asked for headers/gcc, as I also mentioned.

"Ever tried installing Oracle on Windows? Arcanity is not severe enough to the incantations necessary."

Ohhh dear... Thanks for the warning.

.

@Steen Hive: "The reason the VMWare install for windows doesn't ask you where "visual studio" lives..."

Wot's that got to do with anything? And as pointed out, it's a closed source program: AFAIK all the significant vmware stuff is precompiled.

Had a look, according to some random goggling (try 'vmware headers compile readhat', you get loads of questions on this) the headers/gcc is needed because "It is required to build 3rd party modules such as vmware [eh??] or graphics card drivers [sounds more likely]."

As for "be smart enough to check that VMWare was compatible with your version of windows," well wot a novel idea! that's why I opted for the redhat option! Clever me, eh?

Just in case you don't know centos is just rebadged RHEL. I mention this because you clearly havenn't tried installing vmware on linux and should try to before posting.

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Anonymous Coward

@Mark

You just reminded me about the other major problem with FOSS/Linux zelots: The "it's you that's the problem not us" attitude. People like you are actively preventing the adoption of Linux by major companies.

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Coat

Wow. Now I feel old...

I first installed Linux at Uni in late 1992, umpteen floppies and a 386.

16 out of 17 years on and off. Ouch.

My fave niche Unix is still Concentrix though, on an Alliant FX/2800.

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Linux

Mandriva 2009.0

This article posted on the same day the new Mandriva is released with the latest linux kernel and KDE4.1 and not even a bootnote mentioning this?

Some come on El Reg I think this is worth highlighting as a news item if not a full review?!

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@FathomsDown

"Add in the extra support time for supporting the commodity hardware and Linux starts to look very expensive compared with other systems." ?

Run it on standard hardware then. Or, run MS Windows on the hardware.

I won't comment on the rest apart from some of the arguements are flawed at least a little, but that issue sounds like the hardware you have chosen to use is expensive, nothing to do with software. Would MS Windows run on it?

Oh well, 8 years now, and loving it. Not ready for business me thinks, but ready for the home desktop (with some very annoying bugs).

Happy Birthday.

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Dead Vulture

and your point is ?

Poor one reg ,next well have the computer scientists(your just A f**kin programmer or system architect) giving us the skewed UNIX histroy that's all about the kernel and misses guys like Richard Stallam out totally simple point here no GNU no linux kernel but hey of recent computer science seem have the problem of defining what an OS actualy is and why ricky does not get the same credibility that linus gets is beyond me.

And even then why do the real founders of Unix bells labs get ignored. Bell labs developed Unix (originally called "UNICS" UNiplexed Information and Computing Service) and with no unix there would be no GNU no Linux no distros full stop end of story so who remembers names like Dennis Ritchie or ken Thompson?

I like and use both UNIX and Linux in several flavours but it will always be the cheap alternative or niche platform for a certain specialised applications it does not have the functionality or easy of use or support that is rivals have and that is not a point which is debatable just a hard fact that seems to be lost in the soft copy of this article.

The article title is posed as a statement so the content article itself should then validate the statement with hard facts for hard copy, you article seem lost in time and not particularly relevant yeah linux/unix was better before Nt4 ..and this a revaltion ? being part of the mass migrations to wintel estates from unix and as400 platforms around about 96+ a time which most large I.T environments underwent the same journey and I am damn glad we did ……so again what was your point yeah my windows nt4 server might not work on my toaster or on obsolete or poorly supported hardware….and your point is caller?

“The beauty of Linux is this: You can't stop a port to a new architecture, even if you wanted to.”

Yeah what like my xbox360 or Ps3 …gee I am so happy this will change the I.T world…it is not like they don’t come with an OS already and that is how linux works

“The beauty of Linux is this: it will jump on any new hardware with an OS and claim to be better though lakcing support and functionality.”

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Anonymous Coward

Re : and your point is ?

Yeah what like my xbox360 or Ps3?

Xbox Linux - http://www.xbox-linux.org/wiki/Main_Page

Linux for PlayStation 2 - http://playstation2-linux.com/

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@Mark

"He's a lawyers son, not a programmer."

He's a lawyer's son AND a programmer.

Read the 'Origin and development' section of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altair_BASIC if you're in any doubt about his abilities.

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Linux

@Fraser

Fraser, actually, before I left my previous company, I managed to get the GIMP for Windoze signed off as acceptable software to be installed on business machines for 'image manipulation and resizing'.

Essentially, because I wanted it (its better than the competition, lets face it) I had to make the business case for it, I did, it got filed away, and now the Helldesk there can install the GIMP on anyones computer that requests it. Given the company in this country alone employs well over 30,000 people, (and globally in excess of 300,000) I think i'd like to give you this big, well wrapped, box of FAIL with a ribbon tied around it.

I'd also like to point out that Birmingham City Council are RedHat users, if the public sector can get in on some Tux-loving for reasons of economies, how far behind do you seriously expect the private sector to be? Also, how many businesses do you know of that use much more than an Office suite, internet browsing, media player, and storage? All you're lacking is a financials package, and I'm sure one will be out there somewhere.

I've been a linux user for oh, about 6 years now, and aside getting Linux digests every now and then, I pretty much ignore the community. I havent patched my home pc in about 4 years, and its about as stable as any given windows machine after 6 months to a years regular use. I'd much rather have my SuSe 9.1 build than XP, or Vista, or ME, or 2000, or Millenium, yea NT4, 98, and 95. Having said that, I didnt really have any problems with Windows 3.1.1. I'll probably rebuild my SuSe machine to Ubunto soon, and then have another 6 years of maintainance free computing.

Show me a windows build thats complete, that you could happily leave to its own devices for 6 years without it dying a very quick death, and I will very begrudgingly admit that there is a place in the market for Windoze, even if it is not for me.

IN fact, lets face it. the Users saying they need a Geek to run their Linux machines for them, 9 times out of ten will need a Geek to sort out their windows machines on a regular basis. I know I sort out my mates windoze machines every time I end up using them because I just cant stand how unbearably slow they are to do anything...

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Stop

@coward

"Yeah what like my xbox360 or Ps3?

Xbox Linux - http://www.xbox-linux.org/wiki/Main_Page

Linux for PlayStation 2 - http://playstation2-linux.com/"

thank you for missing the point !!! we know and was exactly my point which is, what is the point? why does my toaster need linux or my Xbox need linux, thank crunchie it is friday .

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Coat

@BlueGreen

"Just in case you don't know centos is just rebadged RHEL. I mention this because you clearly havenn't tried installing vmware on linux and should try to before posting."

I've installed (and regularly continue to install) VMWare on RHEL, FC and Slackware 8-12 ..it's part of my job and it's a piece of piss.

If the gist of my comment went over you head...

VMWare does provide pre-compiled . kernel modules for the most common kernels on the most common distros, precisely as it does for most of the NT kernels.

The pertinent point here is that if MS upgrades the NT kernel (for example XP->Vista) VMWare is likely totally broken until a complete new version of VMWare is released (as it was, a beta VMWare took more than a month to appear after Vista RTM). This is not the case with linux - if you can't be arsed to type something like:

"yum install gcc kernel-devel && ./vmware-config.pl --compile" you are most likely beyond any help anyway.

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Happy

@Steve Hine

"I mean - that's practically name theft !"

I downloaded your name patched it and released the changes back to the community, in compliance with the GPL :-)

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Unhappy

"Need a Geek"

The bottom line is that if you need a geek to help you on linux, you'll need a geek - even if only to hold your hand, as you have the confidence after several years of use - to help you on Windows, too.

Too many posters on here expecting things to just "work". Really makes me wonder what kind of readership el reg has been picking up recently...

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Anonymous Coward

@paul

Ok, so you know of one enterprise that uses the gimp. That's hardly global universal use and that was essentially my point, several projects which are good-to-excellent have hobbled themselves with silly names. I can think of three companies I have worked for in the past who refused to consider the gimp, specifically because of its name. Hardly a resounding fail, I think.

Yes, a couple of large companies use linux on the desktop, some companies use MacOS, some even Solaris, but many, many more use Windows and aren't about to move away for many reasons, not least the requirement to get all their bespoke software running on the OS they move to. Most of the companies that I have worked for have had in the region of a thousand or more bespoke apps, not a small task to get them running on a new OS.

You don't patch your computer? Good luck with that. Personally I wouldn't advise anyone to not patch their machine on a regular basis. I have worked on many stable builds of Windows, Solaris, AIX, HPUX and Linux they are all patched regularly. I can point to stable builds of Windows that have been stable for multiple years, patching excepted, at every company I have worked for, this includes 3.11WFW, NT4, XP, 2000 and the associated server edditions. These builds tend to be put on and left until patching time. It is no big deal to get Windows stable.

I don't really see what you are getting at though, I am a fan of linux, I use it at home and work. I don't think the sun shines out of its arse, it's just an operating system, not a cure for fucking AIDS and it does have some significant problems. That isn't to say that Windows doesn't, but name calling of other OSes/companies doesn't help turn people on to linux/FOSS, it alienates them.

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@Toastan Buttar

He's a programmer in the same way as I'm an electrician.

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@Fraser

And he'd hardly know all the world either. So, if Paul knows 10 companies well enough to know the software they install, then if he know 1 company out of that selection of 10 the most likely answer is that 10% of companies use Gimp.

That you know none doesn't change that.

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Thumb Up

@ Neil : Re Outlook, Exchange, AD

By Neil Posted Friday 10th October 2008 07:30 GMT

reasons Linux isn't suitable for *me* yet:

Outlook

Exchange

Active Directory

It's not windows itself that stops me from switching full time, it's the functionality that's available to me in an understandable and accessible way. God knows Windows is flawed, and Linux has the potential to destroy it, but these 3 things are what keep me with Windows

----------------------------------------------

I'm in a Microsoft centred company here and I use a Kubuntu desktop. Most other people are using Outlook to connect to the Exchange server but I use Evolution and I find it works much better. (Better performance, nicer features, nicer feel). I can log onto the domain if I want to using likewise (packaged into (K)ubuntu) but I prefer to just use static CIFS mounts on my machine or browse using smb://netbiosname/share in Dolphin and entering domain\username to access them.

The only problem I encounter is OpenOffice.org 2.4 sometimes can't correctly format some word docs. But I quietly laugh when Windows users send docs to other Windows users in .docx format and argue about not being able to open it. I open it for them and send it back in .doc :)

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Paris Hilton

@Fraser

"The "it's you that's the problem not us" attitude. People like you are actively preventing the adoption of Linux by major companies."

That is EXACLY what you are saying too.

It's not that you're wrong, it's that anyone saying your wrong is a zealot.

PH knows more about it than you.

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@ Edward Rose

Commodity hardware is "standard" hardware. i.e. x86 hardware that you buy from a standard vendor and you could well run Windows on. The point that I am making is that by the time you add an extra cost for OS and OS support, it works out on par if not more expensive than the hefty discounts you get from major Unix vendors. In addition, add the cost of staff training, migration apps, packaging systems and auditing tools and its nor surprising why major companies keep the majority of their systems on AIX/Solaris.

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Silver badge

@ BlueGreen

I've been using Linux since kernel 1.2.10, and I completely agree with you - apparently unlike my fellow Linux blowhards.

There's a lot less kernel compiling going on these days, but can some explain why, exactly, I can not install a module compiled for 2.6.18 on 2.6.20? Is the architecture that different? It's a point release for god's sake.

VMWare (and anyone else that needs to provide a kernel module) should be able to provide a 2.4.x module, a 2.6.x module and that's that - but they can't, which is the fault of Linux. Granny doesn't know where her kernel headers are, and she shouldn't have to.

If it's any help, I installed VirtualBox successfully on Debian quite easily, no compiling required. You don't want to do that - use Ubuntu - but the process is identical. I switched from Redhat about a year back and overall I'm pretty pleased with the decision. Good luck.

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Linux

@Fraser

Silly names that will never make it in commercial space:

google

skype

youtube

amazon

yahoo

Lack of a common installer:

The large commercial software I've used on Windows tends to use their own installer - so many of the same problems. Small stuff quite often uses the abortion that is Windows installer. I understand some of the linux world has appget or something which provides a common framework for 1,000s of pieces of software.

Rest of it:

Yeah, probably. Although bitchy infighting is not a linux preserve. Sadly it's a geek preserve. I think it's an evolutionary adaption to prevent geeks taking over the world. They'll design a foolproof system for defeating the enemy then fall out over what colour the hamster mascot should be.

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Anonymous Coward

@John Stirling

Yep, google and yahoo are silly names which have made it in big business, I don't really think Amazon is silly and I don't think the others have made it in big business, but I'll agree to meet you half way...

I was kind of getting at the OS installer, pretty much every version of linux has a different one, but I take your point about setup.exe installations under windows, many are different, but all joe user needs to know is how to click on setup.exe. The vast majority of software does now come with an msi script, though.

re: The rest of it: I have often worked with people who I think would be able to take over the world, if only the could tie their laces. One security company that I have had dealings with had one of those uber geek types who wasn't allowed to ever meet customers because he wasn't easthetically pleasing (to put it lightly!) but did make them several millions a year. Another geek I used to work with was allowed to come in to work about four hours after everyone else because he just couldn't get up in the morning, but did write shit hot, extremely specialist code.

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@Steen Hive, @Anomalous Cowherd

@Steen Hive: what's become trivial to you from years of use is very much a major obstacle to me ATM. I *clearly* said I was a new to this. yum, GCC, repositories, needing to recompile stuff, having to have headers, not knowing where to get headers, not knowing what they're even called, devices (where's that 8 gig partition gone I made?), mounting/unmounting, gnome oddities, X servers for a headless firewall-machine-to-be (can find sod all docs for X!), grub, other stuff. Even finding out how to change the admin password took time. That's where I'm at. I enjoy it except when it gets harder than is actually necessary. Telling me I'm past hope... well, if it makes you feel better.

@Anomalous Cowherd: Thanks, appreciated.

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Go

English or Mandarin?

"You got the wrong end here by picking a living language for your example. English has replaced a huge number of other languages, and presumably may be replaced itself at some point."

Good point.

Languages also live or die by network effects. For us humans, it's probably down to a choice of Spanish, English or Mandarin. For computers, something so UNIX-like there's no practical difference, or something that started as Windows but is becoming more fragmented and recognizable as time passes (thus losing benefits network effect), or... what?

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Linux

@ Anomalous Cowherd : Compiling Modules

There's a lot less kernel compiling going on these days, but can some explain why, exactly, I can not install a module compiled for 2.6.18 on 2.6.20? Is the architecture that different? It's a point release for god's sake.

-- You can. Ubuntu now ships DKMS by default and as long as the modules are built as DKMS modules (which they soon all will be) then different versions will work fine.

VMWare (and anyone else that needs to provide a kernel module) should be able to provide a 2.4.x module, a 2.6.x module and that's that - but they can't, which is the fault of Linux. Granny doesn't know where her kernel headers are, and she shouldn't have to.

-- It's the fault of Linux but it can be no other way. It ensures the kernel remains high quality. Look at what happens when binary blobs for graphics cards that we have no control over get loaded.

But to be fair using Ubuntu as an example, to install vmware server you need to install the build-essential package and then run sudo ./vmware-install.pl. Press enter about 10 times and it's installed, including compiling the modules. If vmware were providing a package for Ubuntu (which they did for a while, you could just install it from add/remove programs) then they could easily put a front end GUI on the installer, install the build-essential package and hide the nasty module compilation away from the user.

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Windows dominancy..

What cannot be overlooked is, that no matter how much better a product Linux is, how cheap and easy it is to acquire, how much beautifull software you all make available;

The problem remains that people just don't care what runs their computer.

If you'd ask people what runs their computer I think you get answers like "Word" or "Internet". It's just a hurdle between them and getting the job done, after that it's quite litteraly alt+ctrl+delete. You can't blame them for that, their just nog interested.

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Gates Horns

Linux as a desktop

Now granted I'm an I.T. engineer so it makes me biased and sometimes people may think I don't realise the problems people face with Linux. Not true though.

The other week I installed a dual boot for a customer on his laptop, the customer was 75 and has now stopped using the Windows section of his hard drive all together. He figured out everything he needed to and is loving every minute of it.

I tried to re-install one of our company laptops the other day, a fresh load of XP and then a dual boot with Kubuntu, I couldn't get past the XP installation for over 2 hours because no matter what I did I couldn't get it to load the SATA drivers for the hard drive. I would get it to load them initially from a USB floppy, then it would boot the Windows Installer and decide it needed the disc again, but the problem then became the Windows installer couldn't find the USB floppy in the same way that the bios had and it couldn't see the disc. Anyway long story short I eventually Got Windows on the laptop and spent another 4 hours installing drivers and updates and patches, when it came to the Kubuntu installation of the laptop I literally put the disc in, clicked a few buttons as and when told to and 25 minutes later rebooted into a fully patched, fully installed and working Linux installation, no hunting for drivers to make shit work, no patching with a service pack and a whole bunch of other software patches. It just worked.

As for installing Virtualbox on a Linux machine, you obviously didn't even try, it comes in the repos for almost every distro out there, downloading it from the sun website and installing it isn't difficult either, they provide an RPM FFS! CentOS is FAR from the best thing to use when starting out with Linux anyway, it makes you work far too hard for little reward, a distro like Ubuntu would be a far better choice, you have the command line at your fingertips when you need it but you can do almost everything you need to from the GUI.

Oh and Bill Gates WAS a programmer, however he didn't invent DOS or Windows (MS didn't even make operating systems, until they ripped off several people who had already written some and sold it on to IBM, yet retaining the copyrights to something they didn't write), go read about CP/M to see how Mr Gates got started with operating systems, then read about IBM offering a deal to the author of CP/M where he had to give up all his copyrights, then when he turned them down, took a worse deal from Gates who kept all his copyrights to something he didn't even write.

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Stop

@Anomalous Cowherd, BlueGreen

"Granny doesn't know where her kernel headers are, and she shouldn't have to."

If granny is at the stage of running complex virtualization apps on a non-supported linux system, asking her to type a rather short command-line to get it working isn't unreasonable - that freedom of choice should constitute an unacceptable learning curve is a much better candidate for unreasonableness.

@BlueGreen

You are not being flamed in any way - it takes less time to learn to do these simple things on linux than it takes to learn your way around the monstrosity that is the new Office toolbar, for example - the difference being you will have gained on the way some broadly applicable and very useful knowledge and insight instead of some YTS-style training.

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