MS Exec: Linux No Threat To Windows Desktop

“The loosely coupled model of development prevents Linux from being successful on the desktop. […] The magic of open-source software is not the software. It has nothing to do with the code at all. Most open-source code is terribly inferior to commercial software code,” Hilf said. “The magic is the community and how you interact and participate in a community and make development transparent enough that the community believes in you and trusts you.”

The guy is right on the money on what he said. He has his screws screwed tight. I was surprised to see that many of the OSNews readers (who are largely OSS advocates) actually agreed with him too. I wrote something similar of this sort a few days ago too.

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Charles wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 5:26 AM PST:

Here’s some more information why Linux/BSD desktops are having a hard time taking wide adoption:

Survey on open-source software for the desktop (June 2006)


This is the admin speaking...
Eugenia wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 5:35 AM PST:

This survey is not valid. The reason is, 82% of the participants already use Linux/Unix (the survey was done for PC-BSD). It does NOT represent the “real” world, because Linux only has 2.5% of market share worldwide. In other words, this survey was done between that 2.5% of people, who already use the software. This can not give you a real representation of why the rest 97% of the users doesn’t want or don’t like to use Linux/Unix.

In order to get a real answer as to why Linux was stopped catching on, you have to:
1. Research objectively the matter and take into account politicalities and the open source development model
2. Take some Windows/OSX users, sit them down for 2-3 days to use Linux and then survey them.

>I take issue with; “Most open-source code is terribly inferior to commercial software code”

Actually, I don’t. There is some very good software in the OSS community, like Firefox, Apache and PostgreSQL (BECAUSE they are *managed* like commercial software would). And there is some really bad ones. In fact, the bulk of OSS software out there is worse that equivelant commercial software. Compare Gimp to Photoshop, Inkscape to Illustrator for example. Night and day.


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 6:44 AM PST:

I think the headline “Linux No Threat to Windows Desktop” is pretty indicative of exactly what “the problem” is. A kernel isn’t really a threat to a desktop system.

It’s really about KDE and Gnome fragmenting the desktop and each one having their own set of problems – KDE with the omnipresent toolkit licensing problem, and Gnome with a less than stellar framework. And of course fragmentation dilutes the talent pool and results in duplication of effort.

Vista is just going to widen the desktop gap. Maybe one day, some people with resources will be able to bring forth a cohesive desktop operating system on top of Linux or a BSD, but that day is a long ways off.


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Eugenia wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 6:46 AM PST:

>A kernel isn’t really a threat to a desktop system.

We all know over here that when we are talking about “Linux” and “desktop”, we are not talking about the kernel. ;)


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 6:52 AM PST:

And of course Gnome could have adopted either Java or Mono as an official framework, but that never happened. Open source politics is linux desktop’s worst enemy.


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Eugenia wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 6:52 AM PST:

Yup.


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 6:58 AM PST:

>We all know over here that when we are talking about “Linux” and “desktop”, we are not talking about the kernel

Obviously…but that wasn’t my point. The point was that there is no “desktop linux”. There’s KDE, Gnome, X, various userland GNU tools, various distros, and then the kernel. People try to lump all this stuff into “linux”, but it’s not really Linux. And that’s what the problem is.


Joseph wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 7:17 AM PST:

>Compare Gimp to Photoshop

Well, I don’t think I can compare the GIMP to Photoshop, unless you have a way I could look at the source code?

The source for the GIMP is fairly nice however, I’ve cannabilized parts for my own stuff.

Now, if you mean the way it’s presented to the users, as in a user interface, then it’s no contest between the two. Photoshop easily wins.


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Eugenia wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 8:27 AM PST:

I beg to differ. It is not only the UI that shows the quality of an application (the source code is not the only way to judge something), but also the process.

Additionally, you can also judge quality via simple tests: Photoshop takes 5 seconds to load a 100 MB tiff file and Gimp takes over a minute. Photoshop has tweaked their JPEG encoder to offer better quality for the same filesize (and also stay fully compatible with JPEG readers) while Gimp uses the stock libjpeg which is far from optimized.

And then, it’s the feature set: It’s of a miracle how the Gimp guys would advocate pro photographers to use Gimp instead of Photoshop when Gimp does not support 16bpp, neither crop-and-resize (in one go, not first crop and then resize).


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 8:35 AM PST:

“Most people use open-source software. It’s clearly a trend.”

Haha, the PC-BSD survey knows “most people”. That survey was crap and, once again, an example of people that are incapable of looking beyond their own narrow interests.


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 9:03 AM PST:

>And then, it’s the feature set: It’s of a miracle how the Gimp guys would advocate pro photographers to use Gimp instead of Photoshop when Gimp does not support 16bpp, neither crop-and-resize (in one go, not first crop and then resize).

When it’s a philosophical view of source code, and not of technical excellence, then it’s not really much of a miracle of advocation.


Joseph wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 10:23 AM PST:

I take issue with; “Most open-source code is terribly inferior to commercial software code”

As far as desktop usage, I think it has more to do with how the end result is presented. Of course if he’s talking about GTK+/GNOME .. possibly the Linux kernel then he’s absolutely right.

I’m in love with KDE’s libraries. The UI in most of their applications is less than desired. Maybe they’ll get their act together with KDE4.

I’m not saying it would change anything other than me loving it more btw.

I don’t have a pathological need for desktop *nix to succeed mainstream. Happy with the status quo, more users are always better though.

I’m willing to overlook it’s short comings mainly because I hate coding outside of a UNIX environment and believe in free software to a lesser extent.


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 10:41 AM PST:

Joseph, it’s not about you loving KDE/Unix.


Joseph wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 10:58 AM PST:

It’s not about me loving KDE/*nix? What’re you on?

I simply stated my preference for both.

You need to elaborate, what you say makes little sense. D

o you mean it shouldn’t matter what I/others think and I should just blindly push it?


Joseph wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 11:00 AM PST:

Can’t edit my previous vote;

But you mean that my personal fondness doesn’t change anything? Because I think I said that in my original post.


Lumbergh wrote on June 24th, 2006 at 11:33 AM PST:

Joseph, saying “I love KDE/Unix” doesn’t address why desktop linux didn’t take off. You’ll have to look beyond yourself to understand why.


Joseph wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 1:21 AM PST:

>I beg to differ.

We’re talking about poorly written code, not features that haven’t been implemented.


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Eugenia wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 2:50 AM PST:

I just demonstrated above that features is just one of the three problems. I mentioned how slow Gimp is, and you don’t need Photoshop’s source code to realize how much faster is. It just is.


snowbender wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 4:54 AM PST:

> 2. Take some Windows/OSX users, sit them down
> for 2-3 days to use Linux and then survey them.

Let me guess. They will think Linux sucks and doesn’t work as easily and comfortably because it’s not the same as Windows or OSX. So, let’s change Gnome to accomodate the poor Windows users. Once Gnome is identical to Windows, those users will find it’s such an intuitive system. Oh well.

Personally, I’m sick of hearing that Gnome needs to be changed in certain ways because Windows users are used to it, or because it’s more intuitive to Windows users. Linux does not have to take over the desktop. OSX and Linux each grabbing a bigger piece of the market, would be good overall, because companies would show more respect for open standards. However, I do think that desktop environments on Linux need to keep their own identity, they do not need to become Windows clones to attract Windows users and to get more market share.

> Historical mistakes were made because people
> didn’t come together and think things through.

I honestly don’t think the motivation for Gnome and KDE was taking over the desktop and pushing Microsoft aside. It most probably was to develop a nice framework for a free desktop environment for Linux, BSDs, and other UNIX-like systems. I think the motivation was to build a completely free operating system (at least that was the reason for starting Gnome).


Lumbergh wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 5:09 AM PST:

Charles, the survey really doesn’t address the issue. Asking the people that responded if they use open source software is like asking a baseball player if they use baseball.

The bottom line of why desktop linux never took off is that it’s too fragmented. There’s not a consistent set of libraries that are guaranteed to be on any one system.

If Gnome had never been started and KDE’s toolkit had a more liberal license then things would have turned out differently. But that didn’t happen and now the realization that although desktop linux has carved out a little niche for itself, it’s in no way a threat to Microsoft hegemony of th desktop.

Historical mistakes were made because people didn’t come together and think things through. But that’s all in the past and until a group with resources decides to challenge the status quo of KDE/Gnome I wouldn’t except anything to really change.


Charles wrote on June 25th, 2006 at 12:46 PM PST:

Haha, the PC-BSD survey knows “most people”. That survey was crap and, once again, an example of people that are incapable of looking beyond their own narrow interests.

By “most people” I obviously mean “most people who took the survey”. I thought it was obvious. The survey was elaborated by professionals of Marketing who did it for free in a professional way. Prior to the survey, an online focus group was organized to see what were gonna be the possible answers to the questions. Enough people took the survey to make it trustworthy. Anyway, that doesn’t matter…


Lumbergh wrote on June 26th, 2006 at 4:50 AM PST:

Charles, you bring up another issue that I really didn’t touch on. And that’s distro dillution. It goes beyond ebuilds not working on rpm systems, and debs not working on rpm systems, and vice versa (actually there are tools for conversion), but the bottom line is that unless you want to build from source you’re pretty much limited to the distro repository universe. Ubuntu isn’t compatible with Debian and so on.

It’s not even an install problem anymore. I installed Dapper on a laptop of mine a couple weeks ago and it couldn’t be easier. Much easier than windows and everything worked out of the box.

But as I stated before, open source is the adoption of desktop linux’s worst enemy because there isn’t strong incentives to work together and there’s a lot of duplication of effort.

That’s fine for some people, but when fanboys start crying about Microsoft’s monopoly and “dirty tricks” they need to face reality and confront the problems that have nothing to do with Linux.

It’s pretty disappointing. When I started working on linux almost a decade ago at work I thought things would be a lot different now. But when I saw that Gnome would have about equal market share as KDE then I knew desktop linux would be a bust.


Lumbergh wrote on June 26th, 2006 at 4:58 AM PST:

Snowbender,

>I honestly don’t think the motivation for Gnome and KDE was taking over the desktop and pushing Microsoft aside. It most probably was to develop a nice framework for a free desktop environment for Linux, BSDs, and other UNIX-like systems. I think the motivation was to build a completely free operating system (at least that was the reason for starting Gnome).

The motivation for doing Gnome and KDE was just like the motivation that programmers in all open source projects have. The love of hacking code to do cool things.

But that doesn’t change the fact of what the Portland Project is trying to accomplish and what KDE’s marketing efforts are trying to accomplish, and Novell and every other player that wants some piece of desktop linux pie.

The real problem for KDE and Gnome splitting up an already meager 2-2.5% pie is that if someone with resources (Google?) ever decided to get into the linux desktop game with something new then they would immediately be a force to be reckoned with.

Frankly, the most important piece of open source software on Unix desktop today is Mozilla/Firefox. Nothing else really even compares.


Charles wrote on June 26th, 2006 at 12:11 PM PST:

The bottom line of why desktop linux never took off is that it’s too fragmented. There’s not a consistent set of libraries that are guaranteed to be on any one system.

That’s so true. Also, every now and then, a new distro shows up, grab a few users from mainstream distros and dilutes Linux a little bit more. Nothing against Ubuntu, I use it, but this is what I see. If there were just one desktop-focused distro, aimed at noobs, easy to install and to use, things would be different. But there are 2-3 mainstream DEs, and ten mainstream distros. You can’t install an ebuild on Ubuntu, and you can’t install a .rpm on Gentoo. I don’t see a quick solution to this issue.


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