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Linux != future

I've been thinking about this for a short while and would like other people's viewpoint.  Constructive criticism please.

Linux has been created by hackers, for hackers.  And I doubt it will ever truly replace the Windows/Mac GUI systems because the hackers won't let it.  Because to reach that state of mass acceptance, you have to think and develop for those people.  And the last thing most Linux developers want to do is take the time and energy to creating something any idiot can point and click at.  And especially when their not getting paid for it.  Windows on the other hand *does* have that.  It will *try* to work "with" the user.  And while its not perfect, its a far cry from what Linux does; which in most cases is *nothing*.  You want help, go get it yourself.

It also seems that some of these open source developers' pride gets bruised everytime a user makes any feature comment on Linux looking/acting like Windows.  Immediately the look and feel gets changed to make it *clearly* known to the user that *THIS IS NOT WINDOWS*.  Deal with it.

Now the Linux community knows this, but the mentality is, "we're hacks. We need something to work just good enough for ourselves.  And if you're not a hacker, then you shouldn't be using this."  That's fair.  And that's the stigma that you're stuck with, so stop complaining about "why the world hasn't switched to Linux".

Oh and that "free" thing.  We all know its really not free.  The total cost of ownership for a Linux box is far more then just the OS.  Money turns the world, and "free" ends up costing more then not.

I can't predict the far future, and while Linux has its place; IMHO that is where it will always be.  As scary as it seems, it truly is a Microsoft world.  And most likely will be for a long time.

sedwo
Friday, April 25, 2003

The main contribution of Linux seems to be giving people the opportunity to dump a Unix based proprietary hardware/OS solution (Sun, SGI, etc) and run a generic Unix clone on cheap x86 hardware.  One of these days this combination will be a death blow to Sun, at least on the desktop and small/medium server side.

I have been using Linux on a daily basis the last few months for a Unix based project.  Running RH8, all I can say is the desktop client is still a slow, clunky joke.  I don't give a shit if the code is "free", give me something that works as well as Win2K or XP.  So much stuff is quirky or just flat-out broken it is amazing that so many Linux zealots beat their chests over how good this stuff is supposed to be.

Replace Windows?  Never going to happen on the desktop, will probably never happen in Microsoft-centric data centers.  But Linux will, over time, replace the other Unix flavors, and the Unix hardware vendors with their proprietary Unix operating systems, are doomed.

Your mileage may vary, void where prohibited.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Friday, April 25, 2003

Hey, I know the whole cryonics thing was cool in the late 70's and early 80's, and by God who would have believed it would really work. It was even funny at first, all these IT defrosties just going about their business as if the world after 84 had never happened. You know, working on the most bombastic kludge rewrites of 70's UNIX implementations and the like. But then some politico radicals got involved (got to love that neo-Orwellian newspeak) with smooth marketing pulling some sort of extra slippery Buck Rogers on some Finnish dude and slick branding with some "I'm maladapted but cute" animal for the puberty hormone swigging crowd, and it got less and less funny. Now they want all of us that learned how to stop dragging our digital knuckles during the 90's to stoop down again? Count me out for the ride pal.

(Hey, this feels like I am repeating myself)

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 25, 2003

LMAO!

John Topley
Friday, April 25, 2003

The Lindows folks (http://www.lindows.com/) are actually heading that way.  Their systems are big on the flashy GUI, quick links for browser, mail, and IM, easy upgrade tools; and short on geek features (no apache, ssh, or most command-line tools).  They're really geared for average users.
But it's still only a second-rate, wannabe Windows - why would anyone settle for less?  There are actually a couple reasons. First, it still has lower hard-cash costs. This is a factor when you get outside the first world. India and China together have, what, about 10 times the US population? And a few hundred bucks for the Windows OS + Office isn't chump change there.
The other reason is that nobody really owns open source code. Specifically, it's not owned by a large American company. Even in Europe, where cost isn't so much the issue, people (particularly in government) are starting to think that it's not such a good thing that Microsoft has a death-grip on all their computer systems.
So, Linux may not be your future, or America's future, but it may well give Microsoft a run for its money on the bigger playing field.

Colin MacDonald
Friday, April 25, 2003

I don't think any sane, unbiased, Linux afficianado would disagree that if you want to develop desktop applications, you've got to use Windows.

However, if you're in the business of making servers and server-side solutions, where there's no GUI involved, then Linux is definitely worth considering, especially where you compare performance and reliability. For instance, compare and contrast Exchange server to a UNIX based mail server : http://www.catb.org/~esr/fetchmail/fetchmail-FAQ.html#G8 (which claims that Microsoft use UNIX servers for Hotmail).

I think most people realise this, and are concentrating on getting Linux into the server market. This probably explains why not much work has been done on the GUI, as nobody's concentrating on that as much.

Personally, I don't really mind what operating system I'm using as long as it gets the job done. I use Linux for server side processing, and Windows for running client apps, and that works fine...

Better than being unemployed...
Friday, April 25, 2003

I have no hope for Linux as a desktop operating system within the next few years.

However, we run Linux and OpenBSD on all of our servers, and have been for many years now. The server is the past, present, and future of Linux.

Scotty
Friday, April 25, 2003

"which claims that Microsoft use UNIX servers for Hotmail"

Yes, it even claims it runs on Solaris (which it never did), and refers in its documentation to "M$". Bet their programmers are truly l33t too.
They're a mail client outfit and they refuse to adapt their stuff to work with Exchange? <whine>We implement the spec. correctly</whine>. Riiight.

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/case/hotmail/default.asp

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, April 25, 2003

Linux will run at the bottom end of the market, since you can surf the web, write letters, do spreadsheets and indeed most things 90% of home users do on a computer with Linux.

If the hardware's compatible Linux will pass the grandmother test as well or better than Windows. Indeed for most tasks you won't even be aware of what OS you are using.

Linux is already taking up much of the mobile computing market; the competition is Symbian, not Pocket PC, which is the preserve of companies 100% MS, or consultants working with those companies.

Linux will also get government stuff outside of the US, as where computers are only used for one application there is no need to waste a fortune on MS licenses, and the present almost universal fear of  US foreign policy will act as another reason for
avoiding MS dependency.

So Linux/Unix will be taking the server end, and the  bottom end of the consumer/office market. The application bar to entry will allow MS to keep the middle part of the market. And if it starts to lose out there it will simply drop prices.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 25, 2003

WebTV ran on Unix until at least 2000. When MS bought WebTV they issued a directive that all Microsoft properties would migrate to NT (because they were tired of getting bad press about Hotmail running on Unix). WebTV prepared an estimate of the hardware and admin costs of migrating to NT and submitted it.

They immediately got special dispensation to keep running on Unix.

My source is a friend who was a founding senior tech at WebTV.

Philo

Philo
Friday, April 25, 2003

Making my living in both arenas (Windows and Unix/Linux) I have a slightly different view.  I know the JOS tends to be MS centric but I believe you may be underestimating or merely uninformed on some of the particulars.  While I can make a comfortable living on Windows, I also see expanding opportunity in Linux, so I generally recommend to my developers that they expand their horizons.

Linux was created by hackers. -  Using the true form of hacker this is fairly accurate.  A few folks got together and created the kernel of what we call Linux.  However, the same would be said for DOS which later became the underpinnings of Windows.  Today, I merely look at hackers as people developing code without corporate funding.  To remove the negative connotation of "hacker" as someone doing something illegal or unjust, Open Source is now a more popular use of the process.

Linux and GUI - Interestingly, Linux (okay the BSD derivative) is Apple today.  So, is that a win?  Let's say "no" because apple has only 4%(?) of the desktop.  However, to the point of usability, Linux was not a concept that started to work at replacing windows.  Therefore its original audience was not "any idiot" as you put it.  As for windows working for you, in that regard I would hope after 25+ years of development it would.  Consider where the Linux GUI is when compared to windows 3.1 and I have to give the Linux folks credit. I would also disagree completely that Linux does "nothing".  If your version does nothing I would suggest you pick a more mainstream distribution.  As for the changing of the GUI, again I am at a loss to explain this in general terms.  GNOME and KDE, by far the most popular desktops have evolved along the same lines as windows.  Should I be disappointed that Win3.1 and XP do not look  or act the same?

Performance - I find Mitch & Murray's comment unusual.  As I said I make my living off both camps.  I have yet to see Linux as a poor performer, performing comparable tasks.  There are certain things that it is slow at doing, but the same can be said for windows.  Given the current release of the two Win2k and RH8.0, the performance of both on similar equipment leans toward Linux.  [I don't include XP and RH9.0 because they are new releases.  There is not enough market penetration to show a real trend.] 
Their issue may be whoever setup the Linux box selected an option is impacting performance. I saw a similar thing at a client with Win2k.  They did not reboot their Win2k desktops nor would they shut them off.  Why?  When they were installed, the store that put them in place turned every single service on.  It literally took 25 minutes to reboot.  Again, not a problem in Win2k, but definitely in its administration. [Never underestimate the power of helpful people doing really dumb things.]

Total Cost of Ownership - This is an interesting one.  In 1984 (showing my age here), I was tasked by a fortune 10 company to provide financial proof that replacing dumb terminals with PCs had a good ROI.  It was just about impossible.  The value was not in Windows, it was in the technology that windows enabled. 

Since we now live in a Windows world, the Linux comparison is easier.  Tangible costs matter, the most significant being license and administration.  The license cost is a definite Linux win.  Even if you buy a vendor product (RedHat, SUSE, etc.) you will pay less than a comparable Window's license. Without much competition, the price of a  Microsoft license is set at a good return without being so high that we switch. That is fine with me, as I Microsoft investor and my phone company does the same thing. 

On the administration side, these matter.  People have seen the Microsoft flyers talking about how expensive it is to get a Linux administrator and that people costs will eat up any savings in supposedly "free" software.  They were right.  "Were" being the important term.  The reason administrators were expensive is they were rare. Most came from Unix administration and again 1000s of desktops, a few Unix servers meant few Unix administrators.  Supply and demand: prices went up.    Today, the cost is only slightly higher than getting a Microsoft admin. If you are running a mixed shop, as most corporations are, an admin capable of both is a savings.  As more people are capable, the price continues to go down. Supply and demand. 

Linux Community - Some of the old attitude prevails.  So does the "Linux is for losers" camp.  Feel free to join a side, but I find both arguments counterproductive.  The attitude is starting to improve greatly now that Linux has is making headway.  There will always be the "it’s a power tool versus it’s a user tool" groups within Linux.  The same as we see in: "Microsoft is a desktop tool.  Real applications run on server systems."  People will make pointless arguments forever.  Don't get hung up on them any more than we should get hung up on the marketing hype.

However, the funding of IBM and other corporate sponsors has helped Linux considerably. IBM's willingness to provide corporate support to customers who use it, eliminated the Microsoft argument that "you can install it but who will support it." 

The future -  In the end though, does it matter?  Not really.  For the foreseeable future Linux will be a growing stake in most companies. Developers and administrators alike would benefit themselves to be able to dealing with  both, without favoritism or complaint.  Knowing when to leverage which, with an attitude of "We can do that,"  pays well.

Mike Gamerland
Friday, April 25, 2003

"It was even funny at first, all these IT defrosties just going about their business as if the world after 1984 had never happened... (got to love that neo-Orwellian newspeak) with smooth marketing..."

Quite humorous.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, April 25, 2003

Hotmail originally used FreeBSD for web servers and Solaris for mail servers.  The web servers were eventually migrated to Windows 2000 (after a previous failed attempt to migrate to NT 4).  The mail servers still run Solaris as far as I know.

The opinions some of the people here have on open source software are humorous to say the least.  While there is still a lot of room for improvement, there are definitely a lot of people who care about usability on the desktop.  There are numerous projects such as KDE and Gnome which focus on this very thing.

As far as open source software being "low end" or something, I can only laugh.  If any of you would care to leave the comfort of your VB.Net worlds, you would find that the world relies heavily on open source software.  Everything from the root domain servers (BIND) to Yahoo (FreeBSD) to Amazon (Linux, Perl) depends heavily on open source software.  It's just not as visible because using open source software isn't reason for a press release like using MS software seems to be.  Companies who use open source software want something that works.  They aren't interested in the latest MS buzzwords.

Anonymous
Friday, April 25, 2003

Mike G. said:
Interestingly, Linux (okay the BSD derivative) is Apple today

Please, BSD was not derived from linux.  BSD has been around longer than linux.  They are separate codebases.  They may look to each other for ideas nowadays and share some code, but BSD was definitely not derived from linux.

-A touchy FreeBSD user. :-)

Andrew Hurst
Friday, April 25, 2003

Linux != future because Linux = now!

pb
Friday, April 25, 2003

Linux in my workplace is positioned to replace solaris>  I suspect that is going to be what it will do in many other large corporate environments.  When you look at the replacement cost for an E10K against the cost of a blade server running linux you have to give serious consideration to dropping the big iron. 

That being said the other technology that is moving strong into our environment is the current suite of Microsoft servers / solutions.  The out of the box integration they provide is a strong value add.  In addition, Sun isn't looking like a good long term bet right now - provides impetus to make a switch.

K
Friday, April 25, 2003

Anonymous,
I think that even though the views of some here might be skewed it still addresses a valid point. Some people in this industry are simply not convinced that Linux can succeed on the desktop. It's a legitimate concern if you ask me.

It's not about Linux vs Windows, it's about perception of Linux in general. How can the Linux community ever hope to succeed in winning the desktop if they refuse to address this concern in the way that commercial software vendors do? And when I say that I don't mean address it just technically, I mean by addressing the customer correctly. And Linux users _are_ customers, regardless of whether they paid or not, and they need to be treated as such. How can Linux win hearts and minds when so many from the Linux community (IMO) have addressed every inquiry or need with "RTFM!" or something equally rude? This might be an opinion but I doubt it could be argued that this perception is far off of the mark.

And your assuming that anyone who disagrees is automatically a VB.Net loser doesn't help any. This is the type of attitude that the Linux community needs to shake or give up hope on ever winning hearts and minds. <heavy sarcasm>For some crazy reason people actually like to be treated with respect *gasp*</heavy sarcasm>


BTW, I use Linux every day and develop applications for it. I also develop applications for Windows, among others, so I have a decently well-rounded view of development across platforms. Simply calling me an M$ shill because my opinion differs wont cut it.

trollbooth
Friday, April 25, 2003

I33T ?

David Clayworth
Friday, April 25, 2003

Linux is good for network infrastructure.  Web servers, dns servers, etc.  It does not make a good desktop.  Most companies using linux right now are using it for infrastructure or some specialized app, not generall purpose business computing that is the bread and butter of MS.

Mike
Friday, April 25, 2003

Also, why do we need to be stuck with 30 year old ideas of what an operating system needs to be?  Can't we do something new.  *nix is ok because it has had a loooong time to mature.  At the rate Windows is advancing it will pass unix in 5 years or less.

One thing is I see Windows includes an easy to use directory server whereas the *nix side has many that are much more difficult.  Our HP3000 has finer grained user permissions than Unix does.  *nix was never designed to be a business computing platform.  For business platform go mainframe, as400, or windows and be done with it rather than trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

Mike
Friday, April 25, 2003

My comments were directed at the people with an obvious misunderstanding about how much open source software is used.  I don't feel that all people who disagree are VB.Net losers.  It is just painfully obvious that many of the people here are MS zealots who have never ventured outside their realm of knowledge.

I certainly agree that Linux on the desktop is a ways off.  Frankly, I don't even care about Linux on the desktop.  I use OS X, which I find to be the best option currently available.  I'm not sure that Linux and other free UNIX-like OSes will be a truly viable option for general desktops until the X windowing system is ditched.

Truth be told, I'm not a big fan of Linux at all.  My current preferred OSes are Mac OS X and FreeBSD.

And to the person complaining about UNIX's age and claiming that Windows will surpass it in 5 years, I hope I never have to use any software or systems that you construct.  UNIX is a moving target.  There is an incredible amount of academic and commercial OS research that is done with UNIX-like OSes.  Maturity is certainly not a disadvantage either.  Some of us like to get things done and have our creations work reliably.  Switching to the MS buzzword of the year doesn't accomplish this.

For the record, I have worked with a multitude of operating systems including MS DOS 5.x and 6.x, Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, 98SE, ME, and XP, FreeBSD 2.x, 3.x, and 4.x,  various Linux distributions, Netware 3.x, 4.x, 5.x, Mac OS 7.x, 8.x, 9.x, X, HPUX, Solaris, and BeOS.  I have programmed in VB 4.x, 5.x, 6.x, C, C++, Perl, PHP, Javascript, PL/SQL, VBScript (ASP), and tinkered with several other languages.  My professional experience involves everything from designing and implementing networks, to system administration, to end user support, to designing and implementing software systems.

I don't limit myself to learning what is necessary to get the job done.  I actually research many options and use the best tool for the job.  In my experience, the best tool for the job hardly ever comes from Microsft.

Anonymous
Friday, April 25, 2003

"I don't think any sane, unbiased, Linux afficianado would disagree that if you want to develop desktop applications, you've got to use Windows."

I disagree. OSX works just fine. I think Chandler will fly as a cross platform app (wxWindows). Mozilla works very well.

Then again, I'm not an "unbiased, Linux afficianado".

As for the future, I think our grandchildren will be hacking croquet in squeak...not Windows in C#.

20 years from now, if you want to develop desktop applications, you'll be taken away by the men in white coats.

fool for python
Friday, April 25, 2003

Stephen:

"Linux will run at the bottom end of the market, since you can surf the web, write letters, do spreadsheets and indeed most things 90% of home users do on a computer with Linux. If the hardware's compatible Linux will pass the grandmother test as well or better than Windows. Indeed for most tasks you won't even be aware of what OS you are using."

Imagine if AOL released a version for Linux? I mean if the fact Juno et al. get customers by costing $5(?) a month less, imagine the potential impact of having Linux boxes, with AOL pre-installed, selling for several hundred less than a comparable Windows machine.

Stephen (again):

"Linux is already taking up much of the mobile computing market; the competition is Symbian, not Pocket PC, which is the preserve of companies 100% MS, or consultants working with those companies."

My thoughts exactly. Who knows what the next computing platform will be, and whether or not they'll need a familiar GUI and existing software apps (two major factors in MS' dominance). And given Linux developers (and users') proclivity for tinkering and being early adopters, they may get a foothold before Microsoft can.

Andrew:
If BSD could be used for OS-X, why is it so infeasible that Linux could be used for future OSes?

David:
It's a self-mocking use of cracker slang. Ya know, like k00l means "cool". "h4X0r" is hacker. "1337" is 'leet, short for "elite".

Joe
http://www.joegrossberg.com

Joe Grossberg
Friday, April 25, 2003

Windows XP appears to be going at around $80  OEM for the home editiion. The monsters such as Dell get even better deals. Office appears to cost around the same OEM.

So we aren't talking hundreds of dollars less, but when you are talking about a machine where the total hardware cost with monitor is running at $400 the diffenence is still considerable.

The problem lies in the gaming market but paradoxically the success of stand alone gaming platforms could work to Linux's advantage.

Stephen Jones
Friday, April 25, 2003

It's great fun reading the comments.
As for sure in this forum is more believe than in most western churches.
Amen.


P.S.:Please start a small editor war
;-)

Panna
Friday, April 25, 2003

I've used both Windows and Linux for a very long time, and have made a great deal of money on both. Each platform has it's strengths and weaknesses. Each has it's own set of headaches.

Use the right tool for the right job.

Wayne Earl
Friday, April 25, 2003

If somebody thinks Linux is the Power Platform for the PDA market, then I would like to order at least 10 - no, 20, dime bags of what you are smoking.

Palm = Palm OS.

PocketPC = PPC 2002/2002/.NET

Linux?  I bet less than 50K total units sold, maybe less than 10K units.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Friday, April 25, 2003

The two worst ways to predict the future are to draw a straight line through the past and extrapolate, and to assume that as things have been for the time you remember, thus shall they ever be.

The Linux hackers may have the RTFM attitude and not care about the GUI (not sure I agree with this though) but the distro vendors sure seem to .  RedHat 9.0 is mighty pretty and I am finding that so far, things just work.  I assume some nasty surprises are in store, but it is the same with Windows XP.

The barriers to Linux on the desktop will ultimately be psychological; Are managers and users willing to overcome their anxiety?  Maybe not.  One assumes that if Linux acceptance on the desktop looks iminent, that Micorsoft will lower their price on a single-user version of Windows.

Erik Lickerman
Friday, April 25, 2003

Don't take this the wrong way, but I didn't exactly see a point to your question--that is, a single thing you wanted an answer to or clarification of. So, I'll just throw a couple things out there.

In answer to your title, "Linux != future", I strongly disagree for several reasons. 1) Linux is as 'good enough' as Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 were, and it will grow in places that *do* have to pay attention to licenses but *don't* want to spend a lot. Personally, I think schools are a huge future growth area. 2) Linux is going to creep in everywhere, for several reasons. First, read this: http://www.shirky.com/writings/darwin_linux_radiation.html . Among other things, I think TiVo will put more Linux boxes in more corners of the world than anything else. But it will creep in in other places, too. Every time a friend gets more than one computer, they get a Linux server and get shown the joy of being able to access a document from here or there, *without* any Windows peer-to-peer flakiness. One here, one there, multiplied by everyone in my LUG doing the same thing, and pretty soon they're everywhere.

I could say a lot more, but just read about any major shift in software--mainframes to Windows, Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel, etc. Nobody ever sees it coming but one day you've gone from 90-10 to 10-90 and it seems like it happened overnight. Nothing ever lasts forever. Hell, even Hitler only expected his Reich to last 1,000 years, since he saw what happened to Rome and others. I guarantee you, Windows will fall to the same fate, and I'll bet its sucessor will be Linux. And then, Linux will fall and be replaced by something else. Just because MS has been strong for 20 years and dominant for 10 doesn't mean they've found the magical formula that will allow them to last for forever.

>Oh and that "free" thing.  We all know its really not free.
>The total cost of ownership for a Linux box is far more
>then just the OS.

Same as a Windows box, so I might as well not pay anything up front in the first place, not to mention down the road, either in subscriptions or time spent on compliance audits. I've developed a couple recipies involving RedHat, Samba, and Apache that make it quick, easy, and painless to create a file or web server from an about-to-be-discarded box, and its nice to not have to spend one instant of thought on licensing issues, reporting this box so it can be added to the M$ tally at work, etc. I can roll out one, or two, or ten, and not worry about it. And its not like the Linux boxes are inferior at such tasks. I've got two Linux servers here at my house (one a file server for 5 computers (PC & Mac) and one a WWW+database server) and they only go down when a power outage outlasts the UPS. I mean no reboots, nothing. I don't even *think* about those boxes. I have a similar w2k box at work--running light webserver duties, plus file serving so web authors can add content, and it just sits there with hardly any stress, but its responses to queries of its web-accessible database get slower and slower, and every month or so it has to be rebooted. Usually when I get down there it has some little message up that it had to expand its VM file, whine whine whine. Yes, maybe I could be a better admin, but that's just my point--being a truly effective, competent Windows admin is just as hard as being a competent, effective Linux admin. Each system makes some things easier and some things harder. All other things being equal, reliability = easy. And nobody, *nobody* on the planet can say with a straight face that, all other things being equal, Windows is more reliable or secure than your average Linux distro, especially right out of the box.

I work for a 30,000-employee company that has its head so far up M$'s ass that I can't tell where we end and they begin. (The attitude there: "Microsoft is the answer. What's the questions?) Do you know how many hours we spent auditing our software last time they asked us to, *just* so we could have the privelege of sending them *more* money so we could keep using it for one more year? Not only did we have to pay our IT staff for all that counting, but every hour they spent counting was an hour they didn't spend doing actual work. And don't tell me that if we would have had better records the count would have been easier. There's not a large enterprise on the planet that can press a button and give you an accurate answer to that question. And if you think schools (see above) like these audits (and yes, they get them), you're nuts. Even a donated PC is wiped of its OS, either due to MS decree or the donating company's IT department, or both. Are there reasons to put an MS OS on a free box? Absolutely. Are there many cases where RedHat+OpenOffice+Mozilla would serve the purpose just fine? You betcha.

anomolous coward
Friday, April 25, 2003

It's not true that Linux is set to do well in the handheld market.

The main trend in that market is that lots of the firms that bet on Palm, often being trendy and using Java to be "multi-platform," are now desperately trying to learn how to develop for Windows platforms.

Lots of them have already learnt the realities of multiplatform solutions.

Pocket PC and Tablets are going to eat this market.

Turning to Linux in a wider sense, I think the claims of its promoters are partially right. It will increase in presence, especially in government.

But a reaction will set in, probably around 1995, because the amount of work needed for production quality user software vastly expands the expertise in open software. 

Also, I've come across lots of firms big and small spouting open software principles, and getting the warm and fuzzies with government bureaucrats, and then quietly slipping in some critical component that they charge a fortune for, and which is not open at all.

.
Friday, April 25, 2003

Dear dotblank,
                      I am sure you are right about developing applications for Linux on handhelds though.
                      I was however under the impression that there were devices out there which used an embedded Linux OS.

                      Tablet PC's are a niche market. The real market is in joining together the mobile phone and the PDA. The question is whether we will end up with a mobile that has evolved to include an PDA or a PDA with a mobile bolted on, or both of them so it won't make a difference. MS is completely out of this market.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, April 26, 2003

I disagree that tablets are a niche. I expect that in a very short time (5 years or less), they will outsell -- perhaps significantly outsell -- traditional laptops. There will be a time when only geeks who want a 10lb mobile desktop will buy a traditional laptop.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, April 26, 2003

Every review I've ever seen for a PDA/Phone combo has been negative.  Nobody likes them.  Handspring, after announcing they were going to focus on these, is absolutely losing their ass financially on this strategy, and if this trend continues, they will go *poof*.

Tablet PCs are going to be huge.  Imagine every person that uses a clipboard as a potential user.  The healthcare industry alone is probably enough to make the whole thing worthwhile.  If I was starting a software company again I would focus on apps for Tablet PCs.  The vertical market shops are going to go ape over these.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Saturday, April 26, 2003

PDA phone combos are negative because they are badly designed.

But people don't want to carry two things around with them, and don't want to have to key in two separate copies of the contact details.

My personal feeling is that it will be the phone companies, probably Nokia, who get this right.

And the cell phone market is huge. Over 80% of the UK population, including babies and pensioners  (that is everybody who wants one) has got a mobile phone. Penetration is massive in the rest of Europe and Asia as well. If you live in the States maybe you don't see this.

Now tablet PC's fill the space between handhelds and notebooks, and will no doubt get the market for certain types of mobile data entry, but we're not even talking about a significant part of the working population here.

And they certainly won't oversell notebooks, because notebooks are not being bought by geeks, but by non-technical types. They are the ones who  just don't want to take up space in the living room or bedroom with a desktop. They can pack the laptop away, and take it on holiday if necessary.

Tablets will eat into notebook sales, but notebook sales are eating into desktop sales, (thankfully for anyone involved in shifting hardware or OS's).

Stephen Jones
Saturday, April 26, 2003

Linux is set to do well in two key markets:

1) Low-end servers.  This puts it in direct competition with Microsoft.  I don't need to expand on this.

2) UI-less Embedded platforms.  For a Tivo or a broadband router, it works really well.  For those markets, it really doesn't matter what OS you use (as long as it works).  And Linux actually does make a decent network OS.

It might do okay in the handheld market, but we're not going to see ANY serious penetration of that market for the next 5 years at least.  I've used several Linux handhelds, and they're all less capable than Windows CE 1.0, and cost just as much.  The royalties on PocketPC are so low that it's actually cheaper than using Linux (when you factor in the extra development you have to do to get Linux working).

It's also not ready for the hardened RTOS market yet.  To make a Linux RTOS as serious as VxWorks or QNX, it requires major changes from stock Linux.  These hardened Linux RTOSes end up being very different beasts.

As for the desktop... Not yet.  You can install Redhat 9, and it may look really good on the surface, but once you start using it, and I mean really using it as a Windows replacement, it's limitations start to show through.  I'm sure it will improve, but that means moving towards a more customer-oriented development model, which Linux is sorely lacking.

I do see it started to become popular on bargain-basement PC's and thin clients, however.  Like the kinds of things that do nothing more than web browsing and e-mail.

Myron Semack
Saturday, April 26, 2003

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