Saturday, March 17, 2007

Linux on the desktop: give it a rest!

There is this great line in the for kids animation movie "flushed away" where "le frog" (voiced by Jean Reno) tells "the toad" to "give it rest, cousin" referring to his self-destructive obsession to get rid of the rats.

I was reading Mark Shuttleworth's blog recently, in order to get to know the guy a little bit better. He founded "Thawte", made a fortune from that, went to space in a russian shuttle and dates models in the UK. He is smart, motivated and very popular. More recently he is the driving force behind the highly visible Ubuntu Linux distribution. There is a great series of a dozen posts on his blog on the topic of making Linux (read Ubuntu) ubiquitous on the desktop.

To me it was yesterday's news. Then yesterday there was a thread on slashdot on that very topic and whether Ubuntu had finally arrived on the desktop. So I decided to dig a bit.

The pictured is checkered. Many reports say it is there and easy to install and use, even pretty with GUI's like Beryl. However, a vast majority still report having to hack xorg.xml files to get the screen to work.

But here is the thing that bothers me, in fact makes me sad: THIS MESS HASN"T EVOLVED MUCH IN 10 YEARS!!! In 1995 when I was working on my PhD thesis I installed slackware linux on a 386 machine I had at home. I had fun hacking the Xorg.conf file, calculating refresh lines, it was a geeky thing to do. I was 25, a grad student, and I wanted to use LaTex on my PC to write my physics PhD thesis. I had discovered Linux at MIT the year before and I was really high on it. I was an evangelist.

I am sad, because I percieve all the love and passion and efforts of legions of geeks going after doomed efforts like "Linux on the desktop". Back in 1999, the debate was already raging. Linux was going to overtake MSFT on the desktop. To me, however Linux on the desktop was dead on arrival. A misguided effort. The other counter trend I saw was that Java had a bad rep because it wasn't open. It was evil.

BTW putting the two together is what gave me the "ah ah moment" to start JBoss. Linux was doomed on the desktop but was going to rule the serverside thanks to its Unix legacy and a little language called java. Today most of the Linux business is on the server side, java is the fastest growing segment. I feel both vindicated and sad at all the wasted energy. All the misguided idealism when it was right in front of our noses.

Well, the sillyness is still going on today... GIVE IT A REST ALREADY. Read my french lips: WE SURRENDER!

Look if you are working on desktop linux and you are offended by what I just said, then please just tune out, go somewhere else, and keep on trucking because I am about to list why I think it is doomed in the short to mid-term. Don't listen to me, please. I am a naysayer. God speed to you and good luck. I hope I am wrong. Thank god I didn't listen to silly criticism and naysayers back when I started JBoss. Do the same, don't do what I say, do what I did.

Here are the reasons I am down on Linux on the desktop.

1- Driver support, windows hegemony. Look guys, I am not upgrading to Vista, not because I don't want to, but because I can't. The reason? Vista is not YET supported by my high end audio card which I use to DJ. It will be, eventually, but VISTA itself is at the top of their support list and then they are slow to support it. Then comes MacOSX on their list. Then, maybe, ONE distribution of Linux.

2- The economics of monopoly are tough to beat. Look folks, windows and linux on the desktop have similar TCO. Depending on the environment Linux can be cheaper but not by much. No one argues that Mac is more expensive than windows (as a BSD derivative). So the incentive on the user is small if not NEGATIVE. The incentive on the software and hardware manufacturers **IS** NEGATIVE. Adding another distribution to the mix is a costly proposition of port and support, there is NO gain, just COST AND HEADACHE. Even mighty DELL is mostly saying NO to new linux pre-installed because of this economic reality. My audio card provider is struggling to support the various versions of windows, much less "afficionado" hardware. Another way to say this is that vendors, both hardware and software WANT A MONOPOLY, they want a SINGLE distribution to support. That is just economic common sense as long as the supplier of that monopoly doesn't abuse its position, this is economically optimal.

3- The corollary of 2, limited in scope to Linux is that for "linux" to be a contender you need ONE distribution, unified. Forget fighting mac and windows, first clean the house. Linux has got to consolidate to ONE army and THEN it can start thinking about attracting vendors and users and fight the real war. LSB was touted as that "standard base" for distributions long time ago. The commnity is aware of the problem but really cannot do much about it. LSB was a partial flop and then add the various little package wars and the lack of standardized deployers and you get a vietnam of software distribution and installation. The war is internal at this stage. And let's face it, the linux/free crowd is ALL about choice and they LOVE their 85 little distributions and their different flavors, and their little packaging (RPM/Debian) and their little files in their little positions with slightly different names. IT is part of the charme "vive la difference". DO you really see anyone getting beyond their technical egos and adopting someone else's distribution and indiosyncrazies? maybe... probably not.

Note that this is true of the desktop but less so on the server side. On the server side, for corporate use, the non-sense has died down by corporate standardization. User driven. RHEL has emerged as that ONE platform with 80% marketshare. That is the consolidating dynamic I talk about. I already argued this positive loop in server side OS when I discussed Oracle vs RedHat. They can't get their shit together to put a distribution together forget recruiting partners. In fact the only place they have a praise of working, and I will come back to that, is as a "oracle appliance".

Forget the server side, which is owned by RHEL right now, and let's go back to client side. If there is one distribution that can unify them all for client side, it may very well be Ubuntu. I was disappointed to see Mark apologize to the Suse guys in one of his posts for even ///proposing/// them to join their efforts. See what I mean by unsurmountable egos? He is making the right call to unify but who is going to unify behind someone else in a FIERCELY individualistic field? The undertone of the whole conversation is Mark: "Surrender! now!" Suse: "we shall never surrender". End of script. Freaked up beyond hope.

Obviously all of this is based on the economic proposition that you need to attract software vendors and hardware vendors. It has happened on the server side with RHEL because the user community, the corporation, imposed their choice. It hasn't happened on the client side, because the user community, "the geeks" would rather die than surrender. But is there a world where software and hardware support are irrelevant?

Absolutely, and it may be the most promising development in the next coming years. ALl of the dedicated devices, think consoles, phones, MP3 players, web stations, media centers, dedicated business apps and the like DO NOT CARE WHAT OS THEY ARE RUNNING. This is the world of the "gizmos" and "appliances".

Ironically one of the posters on the slashdot Ubuntu thread mentions that the three persons he has moved from windows were "only using the web". No wonder, and for that, Ubunt is over kill. I suspect that a device WITHOUT EXPOSED OS, will emerge in that "grand mother"/couch potato category where you can IM/Chat/google/mail/surf/porn/skype/DVR without having to even KNOW what an OS is. The extensibility of the hardware and software, what makes PCs so attractive, versatile and extensible become a secondary hinderance. If gizmos cost $100 and a PC $1500 then 4 little dedicated devices may be more intuitive than one generalized platform. You don't want to install peripherals and you don't want to install more software. That market is big, early but big methinks.

When I was at SUN I was evangelizing the "javastation" and it was the first time I really got thinking about these OS gizmo dynamics. The javastation was a freaking dog, it didn't work, period. The furthest I got was by trying to position it as a SAP dedicated client machine we could run in production environments where it wouldn't break down. It was a good idea, too bad the buttons didn't unpress (talk about buggy) and too bad it cost $2000 for a 80Mhz machine :) it died quickly.

The whole "appliance" thingy, ironically makes more sense on the client side. For some reason a lot of folks are pushing server side appliances in a age of virtualization. It seems completely stupid. Can someone PLEASE explain why we would tie hardware to software when we have virtualization? However in the context of clients and grand mothers and security it makes a lot more sense. Witness TiVO. The TIVO box was one of the first LINUX successes. ANd who cares it is Linux? No one, that is the point of the dedicated boxes, that you don't care what is the OS. Even in the embedded market, Linux seems completely fragmented with vendors peddling their proprietary extensions and development environments.

Oh well, this post is too long already. It is hard to be negative in a way. I was never born a critic, but in this instance, I have been thinking the same for 10 years now, and shit hasn't moved.

Give it a rest already.


Bruce said...

Mark, you've hit the nail on the head. At ATG where I work we can't afford to qualify on more than one distribution of Linux and we chose RH because of it's market share. And that's on the server side where Linux *has* a market share.

All the calls on Dell's ill-fated IdeaStorm site for bundling of Linux with desktops just prove they are attracting zealots instead of customers to comment on the site. (More on this at:

marcf said...

Yes, there you go. The DELL story was a bit of f* you to the OSS community a clear black and white: "your client shit makes no economic sense right now".

The server side works (and DELL does ship a TON of RHEL on servers) because as you point out there IS a marketshare and therefore a marketshare leader (RHEL). On the client side, there is no marketshare after win and mac, so the "consolidating battle" is academic chicken and egg.

The zealots made Linux into a tremendous server OS platform due to its engineering, in user land, simple things such as calendaring are still missing.

marcf said...

BTW, checked your "userdriven" website, interesting concept. Server side was"user driven standardization", whether this can go on in linux ondesktop where the user is definitely "alpha geek" is dubious. Neat concept btw.

Juha said...

Juha said...

Completely agree with the appliance story btw, having attempted to get my mother to use a laptop lately.

Life would be much easier if there was an appliance with email, solitaire, chat, photo, word in an controlled appliance environment instead.

The folder paradigm is utterly confusing. Search (spiced with tags) is more natural. Google showed the way.

With generic OS you're faced with a mountain of complexity to accomplish a simple task that is the equivalent of sending a text message on a phone.

I don't even think the applications need to be fixed, as long as the installation/plugin verification is more controlled. Like switching a game on your console without the need of the physical media.

The general use OS is relevant to software engineers and enthusiasts/hobbyists. There's no need to expose it to the "masses" anymore than I have a need to fiddle with and tune a car engine before driving.

Maybe the 4th generation console is the answer to this if they can break away from the "it's for games" stigma. Phone vendors are chasing the same dream but the cost the operators put on the wireless bandwidth is silly.

It all makes it interesting to watch how Sony, Nokia, Microsoft, Google, et al position themselves in relation to each other.

marcf said...

good point about the console extensibility, juha. i do extend thexbox 360 and the Psp. This is also a subscription business which is great business. to be fair there is a wave of gizmos on the market now including one from rht that i can't remember.

enough storage (solid state) and autonomy (solid state again) and we will be there soon,

Andrew C. Oliver said...

Dude, with Ubuntu, I rock out with my cock out w/o even trying and tune what I want when I want... nuff said.

Anonymous said...

How interesting, you didn't try it out yet felt obliged to use your
Linux circa 1995 experience as a reason for Linux . ;) Michael Dell
thinks otherwise as he's using it on his laptop.

1. Xorg doesn't need a xorg.CONF (not XML). It can start up without
one and detects correct refresh rates without editing or calculating.
I don't think people even needed to do that in 2001. Xorg 7.3 (next
release, supposed to be in next Ubuntu as well) is taking this further
as well with dual monitor hotplugging. Yes this stuff all should
have been there already, but I'm sure you know the sad, stagnating
story of XFree86...and well, let's just say that forks can be a good

2. Linux has more drivers than Windows. It's a simple fact that you
can google: 1.
The other fact is that since Linux drivers are source-based, they are
compiled for every platfor m, and 64 bit Linux is a breeze vs. Vista
64 or XP 64-- ever wonder why those Intel Core 2 Duos don't have XP 64
on them? Your Creative X-Fi will not have LInux drivers because
Creative is a shit company, but your M-audio will, just check against
alsa compatibility: 2 . Choose to
spend your hard earned money carefulley. The other bad companies are
ATI and nVidia and Broadcom. Therefore, you use Intel cards (which
have majority marketshare, 40%, so you don't have to go out of your
way here..) So when the 64 bit transition comes, Linux drivers and
applications are already ready.

3. Linux forking is Debian and RPM. Period. SuSE and Red Hat and
Mandriva stupidly splintered, yet .deb distros are mostly compatible
thanks to Debian being the 'mother'. Ubuntu syncs with Debian every
six months and contributes upstream patches to Debian every day. It's
not just another Linux distro.

See, 3.

So I think you should try using Feisty Fawn with compatible hardware,
and then comments you make will be valid. BTW try out Ubuntu Studio 4
as well with your high end audio hardware, if it's supported and not
an X-FI from Creative.

Anonymous said...

本土成人貼圖站大台灣情色網台灣男人幫論壇A圖網嘟嘟成人電影網火辣春夢貼圖網情色貼圖俱樂部台灣成人電影絲襪美腿樂園18美女貼圖區柔情聊天網707網愛聊天室聯盟台北69色情貼圖區38女孩情色網台灣映像館波波成人情色網站美女成人貼圖區無碼貼圖力量色妹妹性愛貼圖區日本女優貼圖網日本美少女貼圖區亞洲風暴情色貼圖網哈啦聊天室美少女自拍貼圖辣妹成人情色網台北女孩情色網辣手貼圖情色網AV無碼女優影片男女情色寫真貼圖a片天使俱樂部萍水相逢遊戲區平水相逢遊戲區免費視訊交友90739免費視訊聊天辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網080視訊聊天室日本美女肛交美女工廠貼圖區百分百貼圖區亞洲成人電影情色網台灣本土自拍貼圖網麻辣貼圖情色網好色客成人圖片貼圖區711成人AV貼圖區台灣美女貼圖區筱萱成人論壇咪咪情色貼圖區momokoko同學會視訊kk272視訊情色文學小站成人情色貼圖區嘟嘟成人網嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區免費色情a片下載台灣情色論壇成人影片分享免費視訊聊天區微風 成人 論壇kiss文學區taiwankiss文學區

Anonymous said...

本土成人貼圖站大台灣情色網台灣男人幫論壇A圖網嘟嘟成人電影網火辣春夢貼圖網情色貼圖俱樂部台灣成人電影絲襪美腿樂園18美女貼圖區柔情聊天網707網愛聊天室聯盟台北69色情貼圖區38女孩情色網台灣映像館波波成人情色網站美女成人貼圖區無碼貼圖力量色妹妹性愛貼圖區日本女優貼圖網日本美少女貼圖區亞洲風暴情色貼圖網哈啦聊天室美少女自拍貼圖辣妹成人情色網台北女孩情色網辣手貼圖情色網AV無碼女優影片男女情色寫真貼圖a片天使俱樂部萍水相逢遊戲區平水相逢遊戲區免費視訊交友90739免費視訊聊天辣妹視訊 - 影音聊天網080視訊聊天室日本美女肛交美女工廠貼圖區百分百貼圖區亞洲成人電影情色網台灣本土自拍貼圖網麻辣貼圖情色網好色客成人圖片貼圖區711成人AV貼圖區台灣美女貼圖區筱萱成人論壇咪咪情色貼圖區momokoko同學會視訊kk272視訊情色文學小站成人情色貼圖區嘟嘟成人網嘟嘟情人色網 - 貼圖區免費色情a片下載台灣情色論壇成人影片分享免費視訊聊天區微風 成人 論壇kiss文學區taiwankiss文學區

Anonymous said...

85cc免費影城 愛情公寓正妹牆川藏第一美女 成人影片 情色交友網 美女視訊 美女視訊 視訊情人高雄網 JP成人影城 383成人影城 aa片免費a片下載 a片線上看aa片免費看 ※a片線上試看※sex520免費影片※ aa片免費看 BT成人論壇 金瓶影片交流區 自拍美女聊天室 aa片免費a片下載 SEX520免費影片 免費a片 日本美女寫真集 sex520aa免費影片 sex520aa免費影片 BT成人網 Hotsee免費視訊交友 百分百貼影片區 SEX520免費影片 免費視訊聊天室 情人視訊高雄網 星光情色討論版 正妹牆 383成人影城 線上85cc免費影城 85cc免費影城 85cc免費影城 85cc免費影城 ※免費視訊聊天室※ ※免費視訊聊天室※ 免費視訊聊天室 85cc免費影片 85cc免費影片 080苗栗人聊天室 080苗栗人聊天室 080中部人聊天室 080中部人聊天室 免費a片下載 免費a片 AA片免費看 aa片免費看 aa片免費看 aa片免費看 aa片免費看 日本av女優影片 av女優 av女優無碼影城 av女優 av女優 百分百成人圖片 百分百成人圖片 視訊情人高雄網 電話交友 影音電話交友 絕色影城 絕色影城 夜未眠成人影城 夜未眠成人影城 色咪咪影片網 色咪咪影片網 色咪咪影片網 色咪咪影片網 色咪咪影片網 免費色咪咪貼影片 免費色咪咪貼影片 色情遊戲 色情遊戲 色情遊戲 色情遊戲 影音視訊交友網

Anonymous said...

視訊交友網 080視訊聊天室 ※免費視訊聊天室※ ※免費視訊聊天室※ 視訊聊天室 成人影音視訊聊天室 ut影音視訊聊天室 ※免費視訊聊天室※ 視訊ukiss聊天室視訊ukiss聊天室 視訊交友90739 視訊交友90739 情人視訊網 168視訊美女 168視訊美女 168視訊美女 視訊美女館 視訊美女館 免費視訊美女網 小高聊天室 小高聊天室 aio交友聊天室 aio交友聊天室 交友聊天室 交友聊天室 線上a片 線上a片 線上a片 線上a片 線上a片 免費線上a片 免費線上a片 嘟嘟成人網站 成人漫畫 情色文學 嘟嘟成人網 成人貼圖區 情色文學成人小說 微風成人區 情色貼圖區 免費視訊聊天 免費成人圖片區 愛情公寓 愛情公寓聊天室 寄情築園小遊戲 免費aa片線上看 aa片免費看 情色SXE聊天室 SEX情色遊戲 色情A片 免費下載 av女優 俱樂部 情色論壇 辣妹視訊 情色貼圖網 免費色情 聊天室 情人視訊聊天室 免費a片成人影城 免費a片-aa片免費看 0204貼圖區 SEX情色 交友聊天-線上免費 女優天堂 成人交友網 成人情色貼圖區 18禁 -女優王國 080視訊美女聊天室 080視訊聊天室 視訊交友90739 免費a片 aio 視訊交友網 成人影城-免費a片※免費視訊聊天※85cc免費影片日本線上免費a片 免費色咪咪影片免費色咪咪影片aaa片免費看影片aaa片免費看成人影城情人視訊高雄網sex520免費影片080聊天室080聊天室aa的滿18歲影片免費av18禁影片免費av18禁影片免費av18禁影片aa的滿18歲影片聊天室ut愛情公寓尋夢園聊天室

Anonymous said...

情色 視訊免費成人
線上 aa 片試看,成人 視訊
xxxpanda com
xxx movie
xx18 net影片交流區
hi5 tv免費影片
xxxpanda com
xvediox com
免費a片卡通,travian tw4
sexy girl video movie
xx18 net影片交流區
av969 免費短片
168 視訊聊天
線上 aa 片試看嘟嘟,免費線上a電影
日本 a 片,無碼影片,美女,sexy,a片天堂
免費 a片,sogo 色論壇
色美眉部落格 2,視訊主播脫衣秀
av 女優,黑色會美眉
av 女優,黑色會美眉
免費 aa 片試看,成人影片分享
無碼av女優, 色美眉部落格 2
無碼av女優, 色美眉部落格 2
倉井空免費影片,情趣 商品,視訊 美女
免費 a 長片線上看,黑澀會美眉無名,辣妹no3
080色情聊天室 080尋夢園

Anonymous said...

免費 a 片
免費線上 aa 片試看85CC
視訊辣妹girl5320 貼片貼圖區
本土自拍影片qq 美美色網漫畫
小護士免費 aa 片試看
雪之深戀 080聊天網水之浪漫
高中生援交偷拍自拍限制級色情 片
aa 片試看免費卡通
a片天堂日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞
sex520 net情趣 商品
視訊聊天情色sex888 freebbs hk
a片免費觀賞sexy girls get fucked
免費 aa 片試看情色文學
av 女優 卡通美女短片免費試看
383成人視訊 美女
卡通aa片hilive tv 免費電影天堂
34c無碼影片情色 網站
成人情色 視訊21sex
情人輔助品日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞
sexy girl比基尼美女
月宮貼圖情趣 商品
援交女sex movie免費 a 片
一葉情貼圖片區 av127
一本道 a片 東京熱情色影片

Anonymous said...

85cc免費影城85cc免費影片免費 a 片台灣論壇免費影片線上免費a片觀看85cc免費影片線上觀賞a片免費看免費A片A片-sex女優王國免費卡通影片線上觀看小魔女免費影城免費看 aa的滿18歲影片免費a片卡通sex888影片分享區520sex貼片區sex520免費影片免費色咪咪影片網免費影片下載aaaaaa片俱樂部成人a影片論壇aaa片免費看短片後宮0204movie免費影片gogo2sex馬子免費影片免費線上a片aaa片免費看短片sex888免費看影片免費 a 片aaa的滿18歲卡通影片免費線上avdvdaaaa彩虹頻道免費影片sexdiy影城aaaa 片俱樂部sex520免費影片85cc成人影城洪爺影城免費線上歐美A片觀看彩虹頻道免費影片免費卡通影片線上觀看臺灣情色網線上免費a長片浪漫月光論壇 sex383線上娛樂場dudu sex免費影片 杜蕾斯成人bbs x693 com sex888sogo 成人論壇plus論壇sex520免費影片sex999日本美女寫真集sex888 freebbs hk85cc免費影片微風成人av論壇亞洲免費影片線上直播日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞視訊情色遊戲sexdiy影城免費成人視訊一本道 a片 東京熱情色影片免費影片下載asex888免費看影片論壇sex888movie影城情色小說本土辣妹34c影片直播吉澤明步免費a片av080免費試看免費aa片試看sex888 freebbs hk卡通美女a片免費試看aa的滿18歲影片a 免費影片觀賞aaa免費看影片aaaaa片俱樂部影片5278論壇免費影片觀賞av博物館sex383線上娛樂場日本 avdvd 介紹免費觀賞avdvd無碼情色電影sexy girl video movie亞洲禁果影城卡通aa片免費看383movie成人影城ut13077視訊聊天aio性愛dvd辣妹影片直播金瓶影片交流區免費a片卡通hilive tv 免費電影彩虹頻道免費短片台南援交友留言彩虹頻道免費短片aio交友愛情館a 免費影片觀賞