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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  1. Steen Hive
    Joke

    What no GNU?

    Oh come on now! How is it possible to write a synopsis of 17 years of Linux without even *once* mentioning the OS itself? RMS would be turning in his grave, were he dead.

  2. Rob Beard
    Linux

    Happy Birthday Linux!

    Whey hey, Linux is 17, does this mean it'll appear driving cars? :-)

    Seriously though, I'm amazed how far it's come in such little time. I remember first trying Slackware Linux back in 1995, it came on a PCW CD and was a pain in the arse to install. Now it's so easy to install even my technically illiterate mum could install it (well, maybe not just yet but it's pretty much there once she learns how to turn the computer on!).

    I'm just looking forward to what will come in the next 17 years. Maybe someone will make embedded Linux based brain implants or something.

    Rob

  3. John Dallman
    Alert

    Platforms and Windows and Linux

    Well, it's a bit more complicated than that... Porting stuff - applications rather than OS - is what I do for a living, and I've been watching processors go by for a while, and taking notes.

    People forget nowadays that Windows NT started life on the Intel i860 (Huh? went the chorus), with MIPS as its second platform, and shipped as a four-platform CD for x86, DEC Alpha, MIPS and PowerPC. And all of those platforms except x86 died. The basic reason was that x86 became the fastest, and Windows' requirements grew fast enough that using anything except the fastest became silly. XP is Windows NT version 5.1; Vista is version 6.0. Windows 9x was throughly non-portable, but it's dead.

    The world is now down to just two architectures that are performance-competitive and potentially mass-market: x86 and PowerPC. IBM weren't interested in doing PowerPC laptop chips, so Apple switched to x86. That's the vast mass of Linux systems, too. Itanium is on the way out: it never really took off.

    So what platforms does Linux actually have a competitive advantage on? Embedded systems, micro-portables, and the like. The issue there isn't that Windows couldn't be ported to their CPU architectures, it's that it takes too much CPU power and memory, and thereby wattage, to be a cost-effective choice. Even Windows CE, which ran on many platforms quite recently, even if it is mostly ARM now, needs a chunkier system than a stripped-down Linux, or other embedded OS. That's the killer. Not portability, as such.

  4. Michael Sheils
    Unhappy

    So....

    Only one more year left until the kernel starts drinking, forgetting where it left stuff and dying of liver failure before 30?

  5. vincent himpe

    stopping a port

    try porting it to a 4004 or 8080 .

  6. Christopher O'Neill
    Boffin

    Linux is part of a bigger picture

    I think phrases such as "Linux on the desktop" are a bit misleading, Linux is just a kernel. There are other projects that are equal if not bigger in size/importance to Linux and they deserve a mention too - GNU, Gnome and QT/KDE for instance - where would Linux be without these? Still stuck in 1995 I guess.

  7. Andrew B

    Oh my

    "[...] Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows) [...]"

    Or maybe not...

  8. BlueGreen

    "...with Linux on the desktop getting to be more practical with every passing year..."

    Not.

    Just spent some time with Centos and Gnome and they aren't ready. Spent a *day* trying to get VMware installed. It needed to recompile so I had to 1) get the right headers 2) point out where it and other bits were 3) get GCC as well 4) install Xinetd (had to do this when it claimed to have installed fully, but still didn't work). That's the simple story, it was actually worse. I also tried installing VirtualBox - just could not get it running.

    With windows, just download and install. I know that this 'weakness' of linux is a strength in other ways, but not to a casual user.

    On another front, Gnome is a poor UI. It doesn't even seem to have much fundamental recognition of user interface principles - frankly it's not nice. There's a lot of other things wrong, such as me having to re-enable the NIC each time I rebooted it. Loads of little things like that.

    Documentation is negligable.

    On the plus side, I still liked it lots and it was very, very stable. I would probably have stuck with it but for graphics driver problems - had them for win, not supplied for centos (Probably not hard to fix for vendor, but they're not interested right now).

    Oh well, flame me, you know you must.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Part of the problem not the solution

    Cross proessor architecture is pretty meaningless these days when all the processor architecures are so simillar. Flat byte addressed address space is pretty much wired into the assumptions behind Linux (and Windows for that atter). A vision stuck in the 1980s in many ways (or earlier).

    Where are the interesting operating systems closely coupled with a new architexture? Different security modells hard wired into the processor? Different multiprocessing models? Linux's use in education stifiles new ideas: too many people are being taught an architecure designed in the 70s, slightly reworked in the 80s as if it were the only way - or worse as if it is the state of the art.

  10. Mike Lovell
    Flame

    @Rob Beard

    "well, maybe not just yet but it's pretty much there once she learns how to turn the computer on!"

    She already knows how to turn me on Rob

  11. Chris Matchett
    Dead Vulture

    Fawn some moare

    Hardly a balanced perspective was it?

  12. Doug Bostrom

    Is replacement inevitable?

    Is it really a given that Linux will die a slow death as a legacy platform?

    Viewed as a linguistic problem, operating systems have undergone a lightning evolution, but there's no certainty that we'll continue to find reasons to reinvent what has already proven to work and to track evolving demands. The English language has never been displaced--- to be replaced by a whole-cloth reimplementation-- but instead has seamlessly morphed to support changing requirements.

    Perhaps we'll instead see a continuing shift of operating systems to an evolutionary approach, a speculation that Linux seems to support. Windows also attempts to evolve, but its private ownership seems a hindrance rather than an advantage. Pushing the concept maybe a little too far, If English were owned by a private entity it's doubtful it would have seen such wide adoption or longevity.

  13. James Butler
    Thumb Up

    Conditions are right...

    With what looks to be a global depression waiting in the wings, perhaps Linux' time to shine will come sooner, rather than later. Can't ask for a better birthday present than that.

  14. Andy Taylor
    Boffin

    Benedict IX

    Was Pope 3 times in the 11th Century, not sure if that makes it a better name than Linux.

  15. Colin Wilson
    Coat

    Knighthood ?

    I can't remember if Linus has had one, but if not, perhaps it's about time he was given a knighthood in the UK for services to the community - both domestic and commercial.

    Mine's the one with xubuntu in the pocket, the laptop, and the desktop - only one machine in the house doesn't have windows on it now, and as soon as I convince the missus... :-)

  16. MarkJ
    Pirate

    Operations per watt

    The rather trite IBM commercial aside, if you drive up the cost per watt of computing power, eventually people will want to make energy savings. That's where Linux ought to win the next chunk of market share. Somehow I doubt Macrosoft can compete, unless they bring out versions of Server 2010 (or whatever) specifically designed to run whatever server app the box is hosting.

  17. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Joyeux anniversaire

    RMS can rotate in his mausoleum allright:

    "Hurd will be out in a year (or two, or next month, who knows)"

    Seriously, it is amazing how advanced Linux software installation and patching schemes like apt-get are heads and shoulders above Windows' turd-bath of individual vendor-provided patching agents. And Linux pgm installations used to be a big weakness.

    Now if we could just get a bit of free-vs-proprietary pragmatism, more polite fanboys, easier configuration (rather than installation) and better games on it, it would be the best thing ever.

    P.S. I wouldn't load up on M$ stock just now.

  18. What's in a name?
    Linux

    Gnu!

    How old is RMS?

  19. Renny McGregor
    Happy

    Reflex laugh

    "particularly small and medium businesses that adopt Windows reflectively."

    Precisely opposite :-)

  20. Andrew Wigglesworth
    Stop

    Linux operating system?

    GNU is an operating system, Linux is one of the kernels it uses.

  21. Andrew Wigglesworth
    Thumb Up

    GNU link for the ignorant.

    http://www.gnu.org

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    had to work on a solaris box today....

    for the first time in a while.... nothing quite like a day with CDE to remind me how much i love linux.

  23. J
    Coat

    Benedictix?

    Hm, sound like a version of the Pope's name for that famous French cartoon... No, I guess I'll stick to Linux, ta very much.

    By the way, to repeat myself, I refuse to use this Playmobil version of the Tux icon.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ What no GNU?

    Why the joke alert ?

    The Linux kernel is the heart, but the rest of it keeps it alive.

    Comparing Windows to Linux is like comparing a car to an engine.

    You could say the Linux ecosystem if you were going to be anal, but GNU do deserve some credit, as do the GPL.

  25. Martin Silver badge
    Coat

    Remember SLS and 32 floppies?

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Banking and Sparcing

    Amusingly, a twenty-ish techy type at my wife's employer --- a retail bank --- started talking about the benefits of open source to a somewhat bemused audience of risk managers today. My wife decided that was not the moment to point out that when said techy was busy being born RMS was sleeping in our spare room.

    The Solaris port to PPC was completed and released: 2.5.1 was available in little-endian form for PReP platforms. I don't have any running (or indeed runnable) 2.5.1 machines to hand, but the manual pages were full of references. Some engineering continued into 2.6, and I think there are references in the manual pages for that as well. You can read the story at http://opensolaris.org/os/project/ppc-dev/

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    17 years?

    IIRC Windows v1 was released in 1985, which means after 17 years (in 2002) it was already at the total domination Windows 2000/XP stage. Having trounced Apple, Netware, OS/2 NeXT and all the other OSes of the day. Linux is a stillborn toy of the geek and MS hater and is unlikely to ever realistically be anything more.

    As for platform support; really people are only interested in Intel/AMD based PCs. Sure you can run it on an iPod or your PS2 or your watch, but why on God's Green Earth would anyone who has ever had sex with more than just themselves present want to?

  28. Homard
    Dead Vulture

    @Rob

    I too love our Penguin friend. It and all the Open Source software I use has taught me much, and taught me well. Thanks to all involved for that !

    I too remember my first Linux install - R/H 5.something. Real pain in the backside to install. But it was worth the effort, and I've never looked back. Now, as you say, the installers are much easier to use, and don't do your head in like frequent reboots as seen on another computing platform.

    Now if brain implants were penguin, I would surely be looking at an increase in uptime ? Would someone be able to exhume my remains in say 300 years time, and know my thoughts ? I can see it now : who was 'that smeg head gordon brown' ?

    Sorry Reg ! I love your site. I couldn't put another penguin icon in succession ... so I chose the one that is nearly the same shape ... the reg one ... I'll be back - honest !

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    PCW CD?

    Heck, I remember when a roommate brought 50 floppies in from work (NASA) and installed it on a spare PC. There wasn't any distros at all. We used VT-100s instead of multiple PCs because it didn't have networking yet.

    Anyway, proprietary UNIX died because each vendor wanted to be "different" and distinguish itself from competitors somehow, which usually meant making it incompatible in some way, which is the exact opposite of what you want technically.

    It's funny, originally Linus didn't care about cross-porting and warned that it would never run on anything on x86. DEC donated an Alpha and Linus couldn't turn down a technical challenge.

    One of the reasons it succeeds where BSD doesn't is that Linus thinks "world domination" is a joke, and he doesn't care about "market share" but just about users getting shit done. BSD is so uptight and neurotic that it's fragmented into it's own little bunch of infighting pieces.

  30. Richard
    Go

    @BlueGreen

    You were compiling a closed source program? Yeah right ...

    From my Fedora machine, I just select one of 3,000 applications from the menu, wait a few seconds, and it's installed. They're all open source apps, integrated properly into the system.

  31. Joseph Helenihi
    Coat

    Rise of the Machines

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

    So, if I port it into a T-101 that becomes self-aware because of the advanced nature of the chipset and the inherent adaptability of open source code, is such "port"-ability a *good* or *bad* thing?

    <Lab coat with the Cyberdyne logo, thanks>

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Breaking out the popcorn

    And waiting for the inevitable flame war that will explode between the various factions... Linux/GNU geeks on one side and wintards on the other. Should be fun to watch.

    BTW Happy B-Day tux :-).

  33. Joe Zeff
    Joke

    When will the Hurd be here?

    The Hurd will come thundering through just as soon as they're done porting Duke Nukem Forever to their kernel.

  34. Benny
    Happy

    @Lee

    "Oh no, you won't!" the biggest goat shouted and he lowered his horns and charged at the troll.

    Smack! He butted him right over the bridge....

  35. IGnatius T Foobar
    Linux

    Linux is *the* OS for the future

    The forces of commoditization are, inevitably, irresistable. Linux *will* eventually become the predominant operating system everywhere, it's merely a question of when. It could take a few years or it could take decades.

    And the fact that it's open source will mean that it will evolve and constantly be updated as generation after generation of technology greets us. To paraphrase a famous computer scientist, "I don't know what kind of operating system I'll be using 30 years from now, but I know it'll be called Linux."

    Oh, and to all the GNU/Linux nomenclature police: get over yourselves.

  36. Steen Hive
    Happy

    @Alan

    The joke was the "dead RMS" part. The fact that the OS is GNU and linux is the kernel wasn't.

    Not withstanding that the bearded one will have a heart-attack if he reads this article :-)

    For those slagging the Hurd, it's a rather nifty OS, but it progresses on geological timescales. If the same effort had been put into GNUMach as into the linux kernel, who knows where it would be now.

    And yeah MACH kernels can be beaten over the head to run an fully-fledged OS - Jobsy-boy proved it with XNU.

  37. Ed Deckard
    Stop

    @ Doug Bostrom

    "The English language has never been displaced--- to be replaced by a whole-cloth reimplementation-- but instead has seamlessly morphed to support changing requirements."

    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.

  38. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    What a LAUGH! "promised to be"? What? 1% of the OS Market???

    Bwah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ....

    This "writer" (to call him a journalist is another laugh) is delusional (he should buy a Mac, he'd fit in there too).

    Windows 94% of the worlds Desktop OS Market in use.

    Mac OS 4%

    Linux <1%

    Misc. 1%

    (per Gartner Research 2007)

  39. Brian Whittle

    Yes But

    If you are a geek or have a geek to look after your computer Linux is fine if you are not the only rational courses are windows or OSX

    google any piece of hardware and you will come across loads of results orf people asking foe linux drivers

  40. Colin Wilson
    Linux

    Damn the typo...

    "Mine's the one with xubuntu in the pocket, the laptop, and the desktop - only one machine in the house doesn't have windows on it now, and as soon as I convince the missus... :-)"

    Spot the obvious :-} - should read "only one machine still has windows on it now" (as its' primary OS at any rate)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When it can be used

    as a real replacement to Windows, I'm there with bells on. Right now, it has gone a LONG way in the last few years. Very far way.

    But basic problems like simple lib incompatibilities, hard-to-decipher install instructions, apps that are community supported (where the community ignores you if you can't recompile "module xyz using lib ver 8.9.x") - these are hindering the uptake heavily.

    Right now even Vista is smoother to use for a novice.. and that's a huge shame.

  42. Nic Brough

    @BlueGreen

    I won't flame you for saying it's not ready for the desktop - some users do experience problems like the ones you have seen. However. my experience is different. I'm a tecchy, so my personal experience is irrelevant. but I've now converted 9 people from Windows to Linux desktops by simply giving them an install CD. None of them were tecchies, none of them needed any help.

    Five years ago, Linux was not ready for the desktop. Now, it is totally ready, with a simple caveat of "get the right one for your user". This actually applies to Windows to, but there is only one answer - XP. For Linux, there is more choice, but for most (Western, non-tecchy, ex-Windows) users Kubuntu is the answer. I would say Ubuntu, but I agree with you about the Gnome UI, despite my own personal preference for it, for most people, it's simply bad.

    I've been using Unix since 198<mutter>, and Linux was a delight to see when it first arrived. It's grown and I've grown with it. I'm glad I've gone grey faster than Tux though!

  43. This post has been deleted by its author

  44. Solomon Grundy

    Have I Done Something Wrong?

    Almost 2/3's of my comments this week have been censored? The comments, content, and character of my observations haven't changed, so why aren't you posting them?

    I'm just curious. I'll still visit El Reg if you've decided to cut me off, but I think it's fucked up because people seem to like me; or at least get excited about what I say.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    who have you been having sex with ?

    ...anyone who has ever had sex with more than just themselves...

    who have you been having sex with ? Steve Ballmer ?

    Anyone whose brain is not soft from sucking Microsoft di..., or who uses their computer for something besides Office drone, or playing video games, or viewing porn likes linux. Hell, even the porn viewers like linux, makes them more resistant to all the spyware the porn pushers embed in their wares.

    How about: "linux, like a mac, except for heterosexuals" ?

  46. BlueGreen

    @Richard, @Nic Brough

    @Richard - "You were compiling a closed source program? Yeah right ..."

    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. I think it's the latter that really gave it away. I don't suppose it's compiling (oops, that word again) the lot, possibly just interface stuff. I dunno. FYI VirtualBox wanted GCC too.

    @Nic Brough - I wasn't clear, I have been converted but I need a few win progs too much! And I'm a techie I suppose, except a noob at *nix. I hope to use a spare machine as a firewall (iptables/netfilter) but I've a leeeedle way to go. Thanks for your informative comments.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @solomon grundy

    Neither is the case boy-o. Point and laugh yes, like or get excited by. Not in the least.

  48. Solomon Grundy

    @BlueGreen

    You're a geek. I hope you're not stuck in your mom's basement and imagining what a real vagina looks like.

  49. Pheet
    Linux

    @webster

    http://uptime.netcraft.com/perf/reports/performance/Hosters?tn=august_2008 (Windows share aprox. 16%)

    Read, then shut the fuck up. Permanently.

    I've not even going to bother pointing out that if desktop PCs came without a certain OS already preinstalled then the story would be different.

    And for the record, I'm a FreeBSD fanboy :-)

    Belated brithday wishes for GNU/Linux.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Happy Birthday Tux

    Odd article, draws some weird conclusions, doesn't seem to understand that Linux is the kernel, not the OS, which in this case is kinda important.

    Also doesn't seem to understand the huge contribution BSD has made and continues to make to opensource. Frankly the good stuff you see tends to be BSD inspired.

    It also seems to think that the GPL is some darling for business, it is not, it is designed for life stylers who want to make sure people share with them, it is not designed to create competitive edge or run businesses it is designed to allow people to push boundaries in a group.

    Gartner figures from one poster, please get a clue, those figures are way off base and frankly I don't know how anyone could conduct an accurate study on determining the figures. If it is on sales well of course Windows would be high, not many Linux distros get sold nowadays.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  52. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The next major OS

    is the one that nobody has heard of yet.

  54. Neil

    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.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  56. Mark

    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.

  57. Mark
    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.

  58. Mark
    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.

  59. Mark
    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.

  60. Andy
    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.

  61. paul
    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)

  62. Steve Hine

    @Steen Hive

    I mean - that's practically name theft !

  63. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  64. Steen Hive
    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.

  65. Mark
    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???

  66. Mark
    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.

  67. Mark
    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.

  68. Chika
    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?

  69. FathomsDown
    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.

  70. Mark
    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).

  71. Mark
    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...

  72. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  73. BlueGreen

    @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.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  75. Martin Hargreaves
    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.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    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?!

  77. Edward Rose

    @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.

  78. Alexander
    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.”

  79. Anonymous Coward
    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/

  80. Toastan Buttar

    @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.

  81. Paul Donnelly
    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...

  82. Alexander
    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 .

  83. Steen Hive
    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.

  84. Steen Hive
    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 :-)

  85. Ross Stewart
    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...

  86. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  87. Mark

    @Toastan Buttar

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

  88. Mark

    @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.

  89. Darren Mansell
    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 :)

  90. Mark
    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.

  91. FathomsDown

    @ 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.

  92. Anomalous Cowherd 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.

  93. John Stirling
    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.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  95. BlueGreen

    @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.

  96. Doug Bostrom
    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?

  97. Darren Mansell
    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.

  98. Bugm Enot
    Thumb Up

    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.

  99. Alex
    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.

  100. Steen Hive
    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.

  101. Mark

    re: Windows dominancy..

    Can't argue with that.

    Linux doesn't care if they topple Windows either. Just that they aren't excluded.

  102. Mark

    @Darren Mansel

    "can some explain why, exactly, I can not install a module compiled for 2.6.18 on 2.6.20?"

    If you turn off version checking for module loading, you can load a module on the "wrong" version.

    Whether it works or not is up to whether there was a change in something that module uses between versions.

    And to answer a corollory question, the reason for not having a stable ABI is two fold:

    a) morally: doesn't matter to a GPL'd driver so GPL it. People can't "nick" your code if it's GPL rather than, say, SISL, MS-PL or BSD.

    b) practically: look at how long it took Windows to get to 64bit computing. Or virtualisation. Etc. Fixing the ABI means fixing yourself into one way of doing things.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    What are we actually discussing?

    As we are all aware Linux is a kernel that forms part of the GNU/Linux OS. It seems to me that the window manager keeps being confused with the kernel. As Bugm Enot said "...people just don't care what runs their computer." We should be beyond this by now. You don't notice your tv/cable OS interface, why should your PC be any different? Most people just want to surf the net - email clients seem to be becoming superfluous as webmail seems to be more popular, with gmail making in roads in enterprise - or type documents, thats all. The only places where you see near religious devotion to an OS are places like this, with people like us. I personally find it increadible that arguments over GUI still happen - these should be a thing of the past. Microsoft, Apple, Gnome and KDE are all rubbish - because you know that they are there! The linux kernel imho has the greatest chance of succeeding as it is open - it already powers most of the devices that you use without having to think too much about using.

    Happy birthday Tux.

  104. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @By Mark Posted Friday 10th October 2008 07:53 GMT

    RE: usable versions of Windows.

    You seem to have missed my point, or are trying to enhance my point but doing so in a manner that looks like you are trying to disparage my point which shows you missed my point.

    My point: Windows was in a far better place after 17 years than Linux is now. Not bothered about what pile of doodoo it was in the early days, just what it achieved in the amount of time Linux has also had (and achieved a lot less).

  105. Mark

    We don't care what's on our TV?

    "You don't notice your tv/cable OS interface, why should your PC be any different?"

    Sky cable?

    Fox?

    MSNBC?

    Channel 5?

    THEY are are interface.

    And if you have Sky you get the Soccer Premiership. If you don't have Sky, you won't.

  106. Bob Rubendunst

    It's not all roses...

    Linux has made it's dent on computing. Mostly, it's positive.

    But it's not the be all and end all.

    For being a teenager, it still does some things terribly. Printing in Linux is still hit or miss. A week does not go by where a (software engineer) Linux user in my office can't print a document. Printing just works in Windows.

    It's even worse for devices like WiFi cards, where the intersection of government regulation of the airwaves and GNU are like oil and water. Subpar performance compared to windows drivers.

    I'm all for Linux. It has helped me get work. But, it's a mixed bag, good at some stuff, terrible at other stuff.

    Maybe Linux printing will work when it gets old enough to go bald, like me <:*)

  107. Mark
    IT Angle

    @Lee

    However Linux 17 years ago was more an OS than Windows 1.0. And Windows 17 years after 1.0 was a LOT less capable than Windows today.

    The problem of mixing the two is that they are completely different both in their aims and in the situations they found themselves.

    You notice, however, that Windows kept improving whilst they were in competition. MS Office kept getting quicker and supported lots of formats while they were in competition.

    When MS had "won" things slowed down A LOT.

    Linux never had the "no competition". And it doesn't have the aim of "winning". Just not losing.

    So trying to match the two is useless and idiotic. Rather like asking whether a chisel is better than a paintbrush.

  108. Mark

    "Printing just works in Windows."

    Just as well I haven't yet had a coffee.

    No, it doesn't "just work".

    The GUI that you click on to get the printer to work is in the printer driver, so you have a different UI per printer. Learn THAT Noob! Worse, many applications write their own in windows.

    "Working" of course, meaning "working with a supported OS".

    Use a Canon BC300 on WinXP. Our survey said "nuh nuuuuuuh".

    Linux? "Just works".

    Now you could get it to work under Windows but it doesn't help pick things out for you (you could use another Canon inkjet but get the wrong dpi settings, etc). But you have to tease it out and TELL windows what to do. It doesn't like that, IT tells YOU what to do. It's much more comfortable that way.

  109. Zmodem

    in the world of pink petal gifs of today

    and all its n00bs. youd probaly be called a wanker and be ignored if you type that message anouncing something new

  110. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Mark

    ... windows wasn't an operating system until NT3.51 ... although I'll have a soft spot for Windows 95. Windows 3.1 was just a fancy GUI which required DOS to run. No DOS - No Windows .....

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Puff Piece

    What utter total nonsense. Linux is installed on Intel or Intel-compatible systems

  112. Rob Bruins Slot
    Stop

    This way both Linux&Windows are going nowhere

    As many out there, I'm actually quite happy about the switch to linux. Sure, it was a bit difficult in the beginning. But as I recall Windows XP was also. And the terrible disaster called Millenium. Before that I found Windows 95 frustrating to use after working on 3.11 for so long. And I can't even begin to image how that first time on Dos 3.3 was back in? '87?

    But one thing has not changed, every article on every tech website that is stupid enough to either mention Windows or Linux AND accept comments on that article has an inevitable flamewar on their hands. Come on people, I use Linux you use Windows, or Mac OS, or whatever you like to use. Linux is not bad, it runs most games just fine nowadays and I find installation & maintenance of linux systems a delight in comparison to windows. Then again, as a webdesigner I have to test on windows systemes. So the laptop does dualboot. That XP version never crashed as far as I know, it handles all the testing nicely and my gf uses it for just about anything.

    The funny thing is,...

    The laptop is actually quite close to my workstation most of the day and they share and coexist in perfect harmony.

    Stop because,.. bloody well obvious right?

  113. Bob Rubendunst
    Flame

    @Mark

    I don't care if Windows huffs glue or uses co-routine calls or self-modifying code to make it's printer drivers work, my observation was that printing is easy on Windows, and dicey on Linux. I stand by that, bOOn-head.

  114. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Kernel

    Linux is a kernel and this kernel isn't exactly radical. It's monolithic and that's hardly cutting edge. There's some cool filesystems and schedulers in there, plenty of hardware support.

    Of course if you talk about Linux distributions having come a long way I will agree with you. The name gets associated with a complete OS when it is not.

  115. RaelianWingnut

    @AC and then Mark...

    > ... windows wasn't an operating system until NT3.51 ... although I'll have a soft spot for Windows > 95. Windows 3.1 was just a fancy GUI which required DOS to run. No DOS - No Windows .....

    Actually, Windows 95/98/ME was also a fancy gui that required DOS to run. NT 3.50 was the first real MS OS, but 3.51 was pretty solid.

    Mark is absolutely right about the competition aspect: when Linux first came out, proprietary Unices cost a fortune (£800 ish for SCO with some trimmings like a *compiler*?), and were frequently very buggy. System V.3 wasn't bad. Xenix was kinda pants, and one of the nicest OSes around at the time was a little known real-time UNIX-like thingy with a microkernel architecture; called OS/9; nothing to do with the Apple OS.

    Windows was in the stone age with a gui task-switcher (just like the Holy Apple).

    One of the other problems with the WIN32 platform was having to write code for it. The MFC was ugly and a lot of the associated technologies buggy and difficult to use. My ex and I put together a remote desktop system on WIN32, and we frequently came away from the game feeling sordid and traumatised.

    DotNet is so much nicer.

    Windows improved *vastly* over that period. XP is an OS I can live with but, as a programmer, I still prefer the power and flexibility of an open-source OS. Still XP for games, though.

  116. Tim Brown
    Thumb Up

    As a server, nothing else will do for me

    I've tried Linux on the desktop but gone back to Windows largely for application compatibility reasons. However for a server, I would choose nothing else.

    I administer a web/email/file server for my organisation which runs Linux and it's incredibly stable and reliable. It just recently completed 611 days of continuous uptime before having to be rebooted and only then because of maintenance at the datacentre. Show me a Windows server with that sort of reliability! Also of course, no pesky licences to pay for.

  117. steogede
    Thumb Down

    @fraser

    >> 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.)

    GIMP is clearly an unfortunate choice of name, but I can't really think of any others. IMHO I would rather have an slightly original bad name, such as the GNU Image Manipulation Program, rather than an obvious ambiguous name like SQL Server (ambiguous in that it could refer to 99% of relational database management servers, if it weren't for the capital S in server).

  118. Colin Wilson
    Linux

    @ Darren Mansell

    "...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"

    Send it back as an .odf along with a link to OpenOffice.org :-p

  119. Mark

    @Bob Rubendunst

    However, if your printer isn't supported ON THAT SPECIFIC windows OS, it won't work.

    The installer even prohibits it.

    I used SCSI on a VIA chipset motherboard. The drivers were an exe. Nothing else was available after a while.

    But that exe didn't work. It always bailed complaining that the registry was corrupt.

    Turns out it was checking that IDE drivers were operational.

    turn them on in the BIOS and it installed.

    Found that out YEARS later by looking on a newsgroup. NOTHING about it in the error message and no way around it. Just Wouldn't Work.

    Printer drivers for windows are like that.

    But you don't see it because you don't remember having to buy new printer to go with your new OS, so "it doesn't exist". True if you're blinkered enough.

  120. Mikel
    Thumb Up

    Happy Birthday Tux

    Linux was at first very poor. That's to be expected. In 17 years it has improved some.

    Although we call it Linux in most uses the GNU software does play more of a part and should be recognized, as well as the contributions of UCSD and contributors under their BSD license. The terms Operating System and Operating Environment are fairly nebulous even to this day. Still, we need an easy handle to hold it by, and "Linux" will do.

    In the beginning it ran on one system with one processor (Linus's). Now it runs on 85% of the top 500 supercomputers, my wireless router and phones and many platforms in between (and beyond!). Hardware support used to be poor. Now Linux supports more hardware than any other system ever offered, period. This has been true for a long time.

    Linux conquered the server room first, as is natural. The server room is a hot environment where professionals are classically educated and use real metrics to determine what works and what does not. Technologies are born and live or die in the server room before most of us ever see them. As the World Wide Web grew the power of Linux became obvious to the denizens of server rooms and it matured just in time to be adopted by many of them. In many cases the tech boom of the late '90s was a Linux boom.

    Once upon a time it wasn't useful on laptops, but now it's on half of the top selling laptops on a major vendor, Amazon.com. Major vendors used to shun it, in deference to their major partner Microsoft. Now all major vendors offer it preinstalled, some in varying flavors. For a long time Linux was not pretty. Now it's not hard to convince people that a two year old installation of Linux is actually the "next" version of the dominant desktop OS. Linux is now the Belle of the Ball.

    Software installation on Linux could still use some work. It's not as bad as Windows. The add/remove programs feature in Windows doesn't actually Add programs, except in certain rare circumstances. The add programs utilities in most Linux distributions links to repositories of software so deep they had to include an internal search engine. Still, the installers in most Linux distributions should also reference a "local" and "Local Area Network" repositories by default, so that applications could add themselves to these repositories as part of their standard installation process. They'll figure this out soon.

    The Linux of today embraces the classical scientific rigor of a bygone era, the splashy interfaces marketing thrives on, and the brutal Darwinian winnowing of our current IT environment. It survives and it looks good doing it by doing what it does well.

    Most importantly, the direction of the knife has shifted. The cutting edge isn't on optimum performance processing any more. We've seen the trap that that is finally - "Intel giveth, and Microsoft taketh away." Now the huge growth is thin-is-in low wattage desktops and laptops that somehow have gained 20% of the market share in just a year. Here the low overhead requirements of Linux are well positioned to exploit the growth of emerging markets abroad (the third world) and emerging markets at home (nettops, netbooks and thin clients). I believe this is by design -- many of the new generation of developers live in growth markets where building apps that require the juice sucking high wattage platforms of yesteryear is not targeting their optimum market because they just don't have the watts and building out the watts is just not going to happen. I also believe the major vendor is suffering from inertia and failed to make the turn here. In the challenging economic environment before us the power of "free" will gain considerable leverage for the next decade even at home.

    There are major applications still which are preventing people from adopting Linux. Photoshop is a major example. As soon as Adobe realizes that their platform partner will not stop trying to kill them with their Adobe Flash replacement Silverlight, they may begin to see the wisdom in diversifying their platforms. Even if they don't, they're a weak anchor. Game vendors follow other platforms too, but their loyalty is transient anyway. The brutal evolution of games is such that the ones that choose the wrong platform die and the life cycle of a game company is about five years.

    Linux is only a tiny fraction of the free software revolution, but it can bear the standard for the millions of developers and thousands of projects that march us toward the future. The use, reuse, and improvement of open projects increases the utility for all. For each little bit you put in, you get a million back. This is progress.

    Thanks Tux!

  121. Mark

    Linux installers

    "Still, the installers in most Linux distributions should also reference a "local" and "Local Area Network" repositories by default, so that applications could add themselves to these repositories as part of their standard installation process."

    They do.

    All the big names, anyway.

    Debian you add them either via GUI (if your debian derivative made one) or by hand to a sources.list file. For DVD decryption they tell you because if a USian can read and automatically break the DMCA because they made it too easy to update, the website WILL be closed down by the World Police (Fuck yeah!).

    SuSE you can add via the YaST Software Management tool.

    Mandrake does the same thing.

    Red Hat may. Fedora does.

    Usually all have the sources in some text file somewhere. Find it and edit it by hand and any Linux will manage it (one reason why you want the CLI is because all UNIX-likes are the same from the command line, the file names may be changed to protect the "IP").

  122. Janko Hrasko
    Thumb Up

    happy birthday

    Happy birthday Linux and THANKS!

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