[CS-FSLUG] Linux Today - Is desktop Linux too fragmented to succeed? A friend tells it like it is!!

Timothy Butler tbutler at ofb.biz
Fri May 1 14:57:16 CDT 2009

I think Jerry is wrong on this one.

Simply put, McAllister hits on points I've been saying (or being told  
by users) for years. It was interesting he mentioned tax software. How  
many people do I know that struggled with WINE or had to boot up  
VMware to do their stupid taxes? It's those sorts of little things  
that help to disqualify Linux by the death of a thousand qualifications.

My parents can't switch to all Linux, because of things like tax  
software. I moved my mom over to Linux for a year or so. I "converted"  
to Mac OS X during that time and she ended up following because she  
was constantly frustrated at having to have me come look at her  
machine to do "one more tweak" to make it do stuff.

She is now a Mac evangelist. She loves the "just works" photo  
downloading, easy music management, the compatibility, etc. Despite my  
best efforts (and at the time, still a belief that Linux could work  
for almost any desktop user), I couldn't replicate that experience  
using Linux.

IP constraints are real. I can boot up a new Mac, and not only will it  
be (by most people's admission) the most beautiful looking desktop  
available, it will also play virtually any media file I throw at it  
without having to download or configure anything. This is powerful.  
People don't want even easy downloads. They just want the system to  
work. They want to download an AAC file from the iTunes store and sync  
it with their iPod Touch. They want to install TaxCut directly from  
the CD with no tweaking (unless the system does it automatically).  
They want to open the computer up from sleep mode and have it work in  
less than five seconds.

I think McAllister's other point is valid too. One person uses Ubuntu,  
another uses Kubuntu, another insists on openSUSE. You can't just pick  
up a single book and learn how to do everything in each of them,  
because each one works differently. Fragmentation has been a major  
issue for years. That most distros have centered on GNOME (and KDE  
marginalized itself with version 4; in the words of a friend, managed  
to do the impossible feat of making Vista look good) doesn't solve it.

Which I say with disappointment. I thought (and still think) Linux is  
a great solution, but as long as most of the developers are so busy  
ignoring what the users want, Apple will continue to be the only  
provider of a successful desktop *nix.

A few observations on what Linux needs:

	1.) It needs someone to pour millions of dollars into WINE and bring  
it up to the point that it can run current versions of Photoshop,  
TaxCut, Quicken, etc. It then needs to be tied into the DE so closely  
that the end user is blissfully unaware of the compatibility layer.  
Focus on apps that really cannot easily be replaced with something  
already on Linux and only worry about currently supported versions --  
no one cares if Office 2002 runs on Linux any longer.

	2.) It needs one of the two major DEs to be completely marginalized  
so that there is one standard "Linux desktop."

	3.) It needs a major OEM to make Linux its flagship OS and focus  
totally on making really slick, desirable systems (think MacBook Pro  
or even Dell Adamo -- systems fully capable of being "cool") that come  
with it pre-installed.

	4.) It needs to come with pre-installed, licensed codecs for MPEG-4,  
QuickTime, DVDs w/ CSS, etc.

	5.) It needs to come with one best of breed app for every job, never  
two sort of OK ones. If one cannot stand by itself, don't bundle any  
(except through a download service, see below).

	All of this is actually quite doable. Here's what Ubuntu should do.  
It should create Ubuntu Pro for $49 off each LTS release. Ubuntu Pro  
would be a paid product so as to buy those codecs. For the moment, it  
could also include a license of VMware (but, with Canonical working  
with VMware to make it "rootless," much like VMware and Parallels for  

	On top of that, it would launch the Ubuntu App Store, which would be  
an attractive, GUI driven app store much like iTunes Store is for the  
iPhone/iPod Touch. Leveraging the existing apt-get architecture,  
Canonical could make waves as being the first to bring the same ease  
of installation that iTunes does for iPhones to a desktop OS. They  
could make it so, like the iTunes Store, app developers could pay $49  
to join and sell apps for a 70-30 revenue split. this would generate  
huge sums of cash for Ubuntu, which could use that to drive  
development, but it would also make it easy to incentivize the same  
sorts of creative developers who helped Apple distribute 1 billion  
iPhone apps in less than a year.
	Likewise, Canonical could sign a deal with Amazon to build in the  
Amazon MP3 store (think as it is on Android, which in turn is copying  
iTunes) and perhaps even Amazon Unbox. Integrate shopping directly  
within Rhythmbox so that it is as good or better experience than  
iTunes on Mac/Windows.

	The last step is finding an OEM. Dell needs a new plan. Work with  
them to launch a complete line from netbooks to luxury laptops of  
systems with Ubuntu Pro preloaded. With Ubuntu's subtle, tasteful  
artwork team, it'd look nice, be very functional and could be slotted  
in price maybe $200 less than the equivalent Apple. These systems  
shouldn't be Windows or Linux systems -- a totally separate Linux line  
with its own unique features That would perhaps sell some in a bad  

	Here's an idea that would make it killer: find a way to take one of  
those instant boot "light" Linux systems  and find a way to make it so  
that it could seemlessly fade into the full distro that could boot in  
the background while the user was already doing stuff. Instant on  
could be a killer app.

	One last thought, while I'm busy musing. Linux needs a killer app.  
Apple has the iPod. Windows had Office. Neither was totally unique,  
but both gained a following that drove people to adopt the platforms  
they worked best on. Linux needs something that people want. Linux  
needs to be aspirational rather than utilitarian. That'll sell.



On Apr 29, 2009, at 9:55 PM, Fred A. Miller wrote:

> http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2009-04-28-009-35-OP-SW-0005
> -- 
> Gun-toting Americans are clearly more self-sufficient than the sissy
> Europeans. This is great news for everyone except Barney Frank, who's
> always secretly wondered what it would be like to be taken by a Somali
> pirate.
> --Ann Coulter
> _______________________________________________
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> http://cs.uninetsolutions.com

Timothy R. Butler | "Bad is so bad, that we cannot but think good
Editor, OfB.biz   | an accident;  good is so  good, that  we feel
tbutler at ofb.biz   | certain that evil could be explained."
timothybutler.us  |                           -- G. K. Chesterton

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