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will Linux be mainstream OS, JOEL opinion required

Want to have an opinion by Joel and all the gurus on this Forum
on Linux

1. Is it good?
2. Will it slowly become a mainstream OS as it is free,
  all the governments are adopting it,
  even some consumers are using it, and MS does not seem
  to have a very good answer against Linux

Penguin
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Crystal Ball update: Joel is still working on his Crystal Ball Project, which will be in Beta by the year 2750.

Repost then!

Prakash S
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Weird question or bad troll. Joels opinion required.

Eric DeBois
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Is Linux good? Depends on your definition of good. Good aspects of Linux are it's stable and powerful.  Bad aspects are ease-of-use and application support. In most desktop situations the bad aspects outweigh the good.

Will Linux every be a mainstream os? No, not for desktop users due to the reasons above.

Generally Linux is a poor choice as an average user's desktop os. However for a server os it's stability and powerfullness may outweigh the downside of its useability and lack of application support.

What governments are using Linux?

Jeff
Thursday, January 23, 2003

"Joel is still working on his Crystal Ball Project, which will be in Beta by the year 2750"

Since the CBP will not be ready until 2750, how do you know it will not be ready until 2750? Hah! Gotcha!


Thursday, January 23, 2003

"Bad aspects are ease-of-use"

It depends on what you want to do with it. My desktop *n*x system's email is far easier to use than anything I've seen on You Know What, for example.

"and application support."

ROFL!


Thursday, January 23, 2003

"MS does not seem to have a very good answer against Linux".

Last I heard, Windows was doing quite well.

John Topley
Thursday, January 23, 2003

*sigh*

Another religious war starts up.

Everything has got good points and bad points. I like Linux because it's a good low cost server solution and scales well across a distributed system, and I like Windows because it's got a good UI and desktop apps.

And why is Joel's opinion so important to you?

Better than being unemployed...
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Linux is probably as easy or easier to install than Windows now, especially considering that you can install all the apps with the OS, instead of having to do it separately.

However most people never have to install Windows so the question doesn't arise. And as people start buying Linux preinstalled the two OS's will be on a level playing field.

Both OS's now are incedibly stable, so the choice comes down to the apps you use, and most things are still biased towards Windows.

So we will see Linux at two levels; at the bottom level where people just want to surf the web, write a few letters, and maybe edit a few pictures, and in very large organizations such as government that standardize on it and have apps custom built for the OS.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 23, 2003

There are many reasons some governments are adopting Linux. None of them have to do with technical considerations or TCO, as some like to pretend.

1. Nationalism: Some countries think they are better of supporting the local Linux distro, than shipping their money to a US company (this is an illusion, especiially in the European theater, see 2)
2. Governments have been lobbied to dead for decades by IBM, who take Linux as a loss leader for their highly lucrative consultancy play, with a nice serving of hardware profits on the side.
3. In government all personnel is seen as a sunken cost. So if a project runs into 1.000.000$ in salaries and 10.000$ in software licenses, the cost of the project from the government point of view is 10.000$.
4. You are right that 3 ignores external contracting. The external contracting is however based on largely static predefined budget, so no cost savings can occur there.
5. Governments almost by definition operate in a monopoly market. This means the quality of the end solution is not a major issue, since their is no competition in the services offered through the solution.
6. And last but not least: technical illiteracy. Those with decision power in government are mostly technical analphabets (it could be argued this is not restricted to government circles).

Any business that takes government adoption as a lead for a private tech decision is in for a big surprise.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Window user friendly - Linux stable scalable.

I heard this one million times.

At my company, we tend to use Solaris because it is the best OS for architectures based on TCP/IP networking.

Linux is not bad to learn UNIX systems, but it has really SEVERE flaws (RAID support is one of my favorite).

I know I'm rude, people did wonderful things using Linux :

http://space-simulator.lanl.gov/

but I'm just tired about all this hype. Linux is not THE stable alternative for Windows.

Ralph Chaléon
Thursday, January 23, 2003

I agree that governments are going over to Linux for reasons that may not be applicable to private industry.

It is not however the wish to send money to the llocal Linux distro, as opposed to a US company. There is in fact little money going to the distro. but the point is that non-US governments are very rightly worried about giving full control of their computer environment to a foreign monopoly which doesn't even show any respect for its own courtry's laws.

Secondly governments have power that private companies don't. The tax authority is not going to buy MS Word in case your tax return is sent in an incompatilble format. It just marks you as a late payer and slaps on the fine!

Thirdly governments often need only one or two specialized apps in each department; you're not going to have all the different little applications you get in a private office.

Third world countries also simply can't afford the ridiciulous license fees. Now that the BSA is putting oressure on governments you are seeing Linux take off (Jordan is an example).

Hopefully what we will get is a kind of uneasy truth. Linux will be good enough to keep the price of Windows down, and force MS to keep innovating so it doesn't lose market share.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 23, 2003

I never thought I'd say this but I agree with Stephen completely. His reasons for governments choosing Linux seems to be right on the money.

I am not gonna claim that Linux is the most user friendly OS but the distros I have used lately (Suse and Redhat) have been very easy to install and have everything the average user needs.

The way I see it is this - when Linux becomes a true threat to MS they will do another 180 degree turn and start pumping out MS Linux distros. In the past Microsoft has been willing to turn on a dime when the need arises so who is to say Microsoft wont oneday embrace Linux and exploit it like they've exploited other markets? Although the licensing for the Linux kernel demand that it remain free that doesn't mean Microsoft cannot sell the same things that all the other distros sell.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, January 23, 2003

That will never happen. Windows is a religious issue to Microsoft. What value would they get from being just another Linux distributor?

John Topley
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Linux may make in-roads in the "desktop" market but it won't be in the traditional sense. It will be in lower cost "network appliance" like devices where the cost and customizability are important. I don't forsee Linux ever getting a UI acceptable in the general purpose desktop marketplace.

I could possibly see a usable UI being brought to Darwin.

pb
Thursday, January 23, 2003

The value would be in the Windows brand and the customer base it brings. They could easily distinguish themselves as the best Linux distro simply through marketing, charging for the tools that they develop on top of the OS. This is the same technique that all other Linux distros use to establish their niche. Their value comes in all the additional tools and advancements that they provide (Such as Suse's Yast, or Redhat's Advance Server kernel enhancements) , not simply putting Linux onto a few CDs. Microsoft could easily compete in this arena.

BUT that being said I admit it would take the sky to fall for Microsoft to abandon all their current OS development and favor the Linux kernel. That's why I qualified the statement saying "when Linux becomes a true threat to MS they will do another 180 degree turn and start pumping out MS Linux distros". What I meant was simply this - we'll know Linux has become mainstream when Microsoft starts selling it.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, January 23, 2003

"the point is that non-US governments are very rightly worried about giving full control of their computer environment to a foreign monopoly"

Well, they do it just about any other sector. "Yes Prime minister, I know we are fully dependant on the US for military equipment and operations, data-networking, computer hardware etc, but that is beside the point. This is the computer OS we are talking about! By the way, I brought you this nice aluminum lined cap ..."
(personally I would trust MS more than the Linux zealots that seem to be endemic in my country, but YMMV)

"Secondly ..." Sorry, I did not get that point.

"Thirdly governments often need only one or two specialized apps in each department;"

Then by all means give them the one or two little apps, although things like IM, email and wordprocessing seem to me to be universal needs no matter who the user. Outlook and Word should be absorbed into the common platform ;-).

"Third world countries also simply can't afford the ridiciulous license fees."

If they can afford the hardware ... how much is a governmental bulk licenced OS? 20$. Besides, will they be able to afford the ridiculous consulting fees?
No, your point is valid in some cases (e.g. Red flag) and is also why I reffered to Europe in my post.

"Hopefully what we will get is a kind of uneasy truth. Linux will be good enough to keep the price of Windows down, and force MS to keep innovating so it doesn't lose market share."

Amen to that.

Just me (Sir to you)
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Well I finally loaded Red Hat 8 GUI on a Dell at school, and it sure took a long time to open applications. 

Maybe the M$ GUI is a lot faster.  Does anyone know why this is?

Who can put up w/a GUI that crawls, for long?

Brian R.
Thursday, January 23, 2003

Maybe the Dells had old, slow HD's or something. 

Anyone notice a speed difference on their own machine?

Brian R.
Thursday, January 23, 2003

In 1998 it might have made sense for Microsoft to adobt the linux (or some other unix) kernel underneath the development of their own UI and system utilities (much in the same way that Apple has done for OS X).

But Microsoft chose another route. They focused on the development of the NT kernel, into its current incarnation under the hood of XP. They now have a kernel that is at least comparably stable and reasonable fast, with respect to the various unix kernels. Why would they now want to scrap that monumental development effort in favor of using someone else's kernel? And it really has to be said that the strongest suit of any unix is the kernel (and possibly the accompanying shells), but certainly not the UI. Since Microsoft has a kernel that is at least adequate (and in my opinion, vey good) and the best UI in the software world, linux has absolutely nothing to offer.

Whether its a good idea or not, Microsoft will never ever ever release any software based on linux.

Benji Smith
Thursday, January 23, 2003

>>(personally I would trust MS more than the Linux zealots that seem to be endemic in my country, but YMMV)

The point of Linux is that you don't have to trust the zealots (MS or Linux) - you get the source and you can have your own people check/enhance it.

MS is releasing source to countries because they didn't trust MS. Unfortunately, under the 'shared source' license they can't modify/fix the code - they can only look at it.

jeff
Thursday, January 23, 2003

"Well I finally loaded Red Hat 8 GUI on a Dell at school, and it sure took a long time to open applications.

Maybe the M$ GUI is a lot faster.  Does anyone know why this is?

Who can put up w/a GUI that crawls, for long? "

"The GUI" is not slow, Open Office is slow (to open).  They really need to fix that, otherwise you get these inane conclusions like "The Linux GUI is slow, the M$ GUI is fast."

Bob

Robert
Thursday, January 23, 2003

>>>>>>>>>ell, they do it just about any other sector. "Yes Prime minister, I know we are fully dependant on the US for military equipment and operations, data-networking, computer hardware etc, but that is beside the point. This is the computer OS we are talking about! By the way, I brought you this nice aluminum lined cap ..."
(personally I would trust MS more than the Linux zealots that seem to be endemic in my country, but YMMV)<<<<<<<<<<<

There are other countries beside the UK, and the only thing the present PM likes doing more than licking the boesses boots and wagging his tail is being photographed on the steps of 10 Downing Street with Bill Gates.

And as for computer hardware we are in fact almost totally dependent on Taiwan, China and Korea.

>>>>>>>"Secondly ..." Sorry, I did not get that point.<<<<<<<<

Many private companies are worried about not using MS software because of what their customers or suppliers use. Governments are not famed for being oversensitive to the needs of their customers.

>>>>>> Then by all means give them the one or two little apps, although things like IM, email and wordprocessing seem to me to be universal needs no matter who the user<<<<<<<<

IM, email and word processing can all be done as easily on Linux as on Windows. Indeed often you won't even notice which OS you are using. The only general productivity app Linux is missing is a decent vector drawing program.

>>>>> If they can afford the hardware ... how much is a governmental bulk licenced OS? 20$. Besides, will they be able to afford the ridiculous consulting fees?<<<<<<<<<

You can buy a new computer from Walmart for $199 . You will then pay a little over $100 for a monitor. Sure prices in third world countries are higher (though there is a large market for second hand computers from Europe or the States) but if you work out that the cost of an academic license for Windows and Office comes to about $200, which is also round about the OEM price, then you can see that the money isn't trivial.

As for consultants, I wasn't aware you needed any to type a letter, and you'd be using local not foreign  labour anyway.

I'm not saying all the arguments are right (though I am inclined to thiink so). What I am saying is that these are the arguments that governments use, and they do not necessarily apply to private industry.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 23, 2003

"What I am saying is that these are the arguments that governments use, and they do not necessarily apply to private industry. "

Then I think we are in full ageement, and agree to disagree on the validity of some of the points, whose validity is also related to the specifics of the country under discussion. Being form Europe, my specific worry is the reduced productivity (short term) and higher overall cost (long term).

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, January 24, 2003

"If they can afford the hardware ... how much is a governmental bulk licenced OS? 20$. Besides, will they be able to afford the ridiculous consulting fees?"

Windows costs much more than $20 even in bulk.  Especially if you're talking about the "pro" versions of Windows like Win2000 Professional and XP Professional.  $70 is probably the rock-bottom lowest deal they can get, and considering that many third world government employees make less than that per month, it is not a trivial amount even if "they can afford the hardware".  Not to mention that the Windows license can easily be more than 30% of the cost of the hardware.

In addition to the cost of the license itself, there is the cost of tracking and accounting for all those licenses.  But with Linux, they can just install it however many times they want without having to think about how many licenses they've paid for, which is a huge advantage for a government that has hundreds of thousands of desktops to manage.

T. Norman
Friday, January 24, 2003

Hmmm... Third Wold is worried about Lic Fees?

If they wanted to use Windows, they would just use it. As for paying Microsoft, that is a seperate issue. :)

Marc
Friday, January 24, 2003

Yes, third world governments now are taking strides to legitimize their software either by purchasing it or moving to free alternatives.  The third world private sector still often pirates Windows and hopes the government doesn't know or care, but the government doesn't have that luxury  - they hope Microsoft et. al. doesn't know or doesn't care, but now the software companies have shown that they do know and do care and have been putting pressure on the governments (with the aid of Congress and foreign trade regulations and treaties, of course).

T. Norman
Friday, January 24, 2003

>>>>>>f they wanted to use Windows, they would just use it. As for paying Microsoft, that is a seperate issue. :) <<<<<<<<<<

Not in government offices. They are regularly inspected by the BSA and the government will get informed by the Western embassies that it can say goodbye to debt relief, cheap traiffs for their goods, any concessions from the WTO and quite a lot of other stiuff, if it doesn't get its house in order.

Stephen Jones
Friday, January 24, 2003

I recently installed Mandrake on a system and it was just as easy as Microsoft Windows to install. I can't use the windows software that I like in Linux (like Word, etc.)- so I end up using Windows most of the time. And a company would worry about poorly documented security holes and the like on the linux box. You gotta make sure you have a really good Unix/Linux girl to make sure all the holes are closed. To get Microsoft's security fix information all you have to do is go to micorsoft.com. One stop shopping.

WNC
Sunday, January 26, 2003

"To get Microsoft's security fix information all you have to do is go to micorsoft.com. One stop shopping."

Witness this weeks MS SQL worm/virus. Just having the fix available isn't enough it appears, looks like you also need a good Windows girl to make sure all the security holes are closed :) BTW RedHat also offers auto install of fixes and it works very well in my experience.

What Linux has done at this point is reduce the cost of a decent stable OS to around zero. Any money you're paying to Microsoft must therefore be for something above and beyond a decent stable OS. If you think what you're getting is worth the money then that's fine. Other people are starting to decide that it's not and that's where the problems start for MS. The cat's out of the bag on this one, if windows is worth $100, or whatever, then it must deliver that amount of value in addition to just being an OS.

Alex Moffat
Sunday, January 26, 2003

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