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

Timothy Butler tbutler at ofb.biz
Sat May 2 21:04:57 CDT 2009

>> 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.
> Well, in all fairness, that is true in some cases with Linux, but even
> MUCH MORE so with MickySoft.

	Practically true, but I think the ease of installing stuff of CD's  
causes most people not to notice. Either that, or they just live with  
it, but if they move on to something else they have higher expectations.

>> 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.
> All true, except I can't understand why anyone needs an iPod. ;)

	I can't imagine giving up my iPod! (Although I refuse to walk around  
in public with headphones in my ears, let the record show.)

	Actually, I'm an iPod addict -- I have three. Four, if you count the  
iPhone. Although, admittedly, I was given two and won one. If only my  
car had an iPod dock. But, the Beetle come with either a satellite  
radio or an iPod docking cable; mine came with the satellite radio.  
The mini-headphone jack suffices.

	I think the iPod dock also demonstrates Apple's savvy. It's  
simplicity and efficiency have created an amazing ecosystem for  
devices. And who wants to buy even the world's greatest phone or music  
player when your stereo and your car have docks for another device?

>> 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.
> In fairness, KDE will before long be where it should be. It's
> progressing VERY well quickly.

	I hope so. I think the danger is the "release it broken, and then fix  
it" mentality. That's what Microsoft did with Vista, too.
>>    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.
> I suppose. I don't think there's the devs. to make all that happen.

	If you make it so they can generate a profit, perhaps starting with  
netbook focused apps, they will come. Look at the iTunes app  
ecosystem. You had no iPhone developers at all two years ago; only  
"greymarket" ones a year ago -- now you have the biggest mobile app  
ecosystem in existence. A lot of it, I think, is the promise that Joe  
Appdeveloper can make a nice bit of cash at $.99 for an app without  
having to deal with the headaches of billing, etc.

	The key is the easy infrastructure. That makes cost of entry low. The  
software, for that matter, could even be Open Source, if the devs  
wished to make it that (think the RHEL model). For $.99, people would  
likely use the store, even if the software could be compiled for free.  
It's an impulse price.

>>    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 economy...
> Just NOT workable because of Gnome! It simply ISN'T what most  
> consumers
> want to look at, nor is configurable as KDE for those who want to  
> really
> tweak it.

	I don't know, Fred. I can say GNOME comes closer to the Mac OS X  
experience than KDE (if you look at KDE 4, note that even its GUI cues  
down to the color scheme mimics Vista, whereas GNOME's visual cues are  
right out of Apple's GUI handbook), and given the universal praise of  
Mac OS X... The only problem here is that I started using GNOME and  
fell in love with the philosophy I followed the source of inspiration  
back to the Mac and switched.

	People I show GNOME to these days think it looks very nice. The big  
problem is all the other stuff above.

	(Tweakability isn't the problem, I would argue: Mac OS X, like GNOME,  
hides much of its customizability in the configuration files, focusing  
on the stuff normal users want, and it doesn't seem to hurt drawing  
users. GNOME may need more "power user tools" -- like exist in the OS  
X ecosystem -- that add GUIs to tweak these otherwise hidden features.  
I'd add, I think this is the Mozilla Firefox model too -- Mozilla  
dumped the KDE-esque, do everything in one spot suite for a relatively  
lightweight, but expansible browser that now is a major force.)

	KDE does have potential, but they need to bring on some serious GUI  
aesthetic experts. KDE 4.2 did fix some things, like the horrid font  
on the clock in the panel, but the theme still looks like a mix of  
Vista and OpenLook (the kicker panel looks just like the Vista taskbar  
and the toolbar buttons and other elements look very reminiscent of  

> YOU may like it, but I can tell you that in the real world, it
> WON'T cut it!
>>    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.
> It could......Novell COULD make it happen, but won't.


Timothy R. Butler | "Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher
tbutler at ofb.biz   | is bound in  his  way to  be a lover of myths  and
www.uninet.info   | poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in
timothybutler.us  | being big with wonder."
                                                      -- Thomas Aquinas

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