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I was looking over the major Linux Distributions and got thinking;
'With all the different distributions, many offering different benifits over others, is Linux a real competitor to M$ Windows?'
My personal thoughts are it almost is but we (the Linux people) need to create a little more central base for Linux to allow for easier software distribution from vendors and (as much as i hate it) more wizard driven tasks for none/less tech people.
Distribution: debian sarge, 2.6.6, and ALSA finally works!!
I've read quite a few of the 'windows vs. linux posts' and 'which distro' type posts. Having been through them I use the following analogy to keep a sense of perspective on the whole thing:
Linux distros are like cars. Some cars go from A to B at 200 mph, others are family cruisers to get you all there at a leisurely pace. Some people use a van for shifting heavy objects. And that is what all the distros are, different people offering different models for diffrent purposes. (the road is the internet, by the way.)
Microsoft only makes one model of car. Only one model of car is either going to be very good at one thing, or very bad at everything.
Some cars are easy to drive (wizards, easy set-up). Other poeple like their cars to be a bit more basic so they can tune them up.
If (in the future sometime) applications become more internet based, (e.g. I could start a company that offers a fantastic office package, that runs on a virtual machine via a browser, you just need to be online to use it, paying 1c per hour or similar) then the OS you use doesn't matter.
If some brave companies start this type of model, making the applications completely OS indepednent, then the M$ / Linux argument starts to disappear. It then becomes which is the safest 'car'. (Guess who wins that one!)
As to 'is Linux a serious competitor to windows', the amount of negative press by MS about Linux must scream at you that if they take it seriously, so should you.
bigjohn, don't get me wrong, I love linux because of the choice and flexibility it gives me.
However my question came about because i work as a Network Engineer/Consultant with 99% of my work being on Windows systems (servers mostly). Now i know linux almost well enough to replace about 50% of the server i look after and do the same job, if not better, but the desktops are used by none techs (accountants, wage clerks, sales man/women etc.) not so easily replaced!!
So my really question was, in a way, does Linux need to merge some of its bigger disties to fill this market. You see once companies start to use Linux at the office these people will use it at home because it to much work to learn to use another OS like windows just for home use. Thats a major problem many disties have, i think, they try to fill a home market role but this will not work as the systems people use at work are mostly windows based (i think that for a different thread)
Distribution: Slackware 14 (Server),Suse 13.1 (Desktop),, Mepis on the wifes lappy
Also, what does any one specific distro offer over another? Using the car analogy, then fine, they all get you from where you are to where you want to be, and that is true of probably every popular OS on the planet. But some people are content to drive a Ford, whilst others prefer a Rolls Royce, while still others may have a company car and a private car. I personally have 2 private cars, Mdk10,0 and Slack9.1(current).
Niether is better than the other, both have there good and bad points, I can do what I want to do on either, with the same ease or difficulty, depending on your point of view, just sometimes I like to meander down the country lanes (Mdk), and other times I like to drive like a screaming banshee down the wide open motorways. The only thing I don't drive is MS, mainly because I don't like crashing all the time.
I love linux because of the choice and flexibility it gives me
My brother is an IT professional, working at the largest of the local Further Educational establishment's i.e. a "Uni"
bearing in mind that his "world" has a major teaching function, with a lesser research function, the horses for courses thing seem's to ring true.
It seems that they use, whatever, given a desired function, will do the job best. Also, given that they are in a position to pick and choose in respect of hardware/software, the establishment still uses primarily Linux servers - and where the only real MS stuff is "user facing", to enable the student's to get used to the continuity of user applications.
To me, that suggest's that "the christmas decorations, are alway's made by Microsoft, but the tree, bucket and soil are solid linux (with occassional unix/other brick's in the bucket - to add weight)"!.
But if you then take the list of distro's from the distrowatch site I linked earlier, you can "skim off" the "generalised" distro's from the ones that are specialised in function and then apply gaffel's car analogy.
Then, well at least in theory, you should be able to get the distro that offer's you all of the optional extra's that "your particular car journey" need's.
One of the guy's at my LUG, uses one of two distro's (I can't recall which way round it is), but it's either gentoo for the server's and debian for user facing functions or vice versa. He did once explain why, but the reason's/justification escape me at the moment.
I'd doubt whether you'd ever get a merger, in the way you're asking/questioning, mainly because unless there's a profit motive behind it, there's so much corporate influence creeping into the equation that in a way, the gpl is starting to become a bit of a double edged sword.
That's one of the reason's that when I know more, I'll probably migrate back toward gentoo. Though right now, Mandrake's offerings more than suit my need's.
Then you'd also have to factor in that lot's of the "smaller" distro's have been produced because the developer(s) want to do stuff "in their way".