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Old 02-17-2013, 09:18 AM   #1
Netnovice
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Discussion point: Development forcing Linux onto the desktop?


Long post but bear with me! Sorry if I am not so coherent. I am being worked to death at the moment (it’ll pass but it’s peak time right now) and I think I’m starting to go down with a virus so I’m bit out of it. But this is a vague thought I gotta share...

Every year there is hope that Linux will become the desktop OS of choice, beating down M$ and Apple. Only it never happens. Now, putting aside all the other questions such as, “Will there be a such a thing as a desktop in the near future?” aside for now... there is something I have noticed which makes me think about the future of Linux – though I can’t quite see the future for the desktop clearly from it yet. (But my brain hurts right now.)

I used to work in software testing in the old country. I then HAD to become a teacher in Indonesia. My next school/contract I will be teaching computing so I will have *half* a foot in the old industry. Sorta… Anyway, I still get job ads sent my way from the UK in my inbox and, you know what? They all ask for the same experience: Agile, Unix, Java. It’s in every job ad. “Agile, Unix, Java.” (So, just my luck to spend years in a VB company using Waterfall as a Microsoft partner - so no Java.) I then looked up the (few) job ads for IT specialists in Indonesia. “Agile, Unix, Java.” Even in Indonesia. Singapore? Agile, Unix, Java. My old co-workers who left the old company after me are being trained up in... Unix. It’s Linux/Unix and Java for everything development related!!!

It seems to me that, in terms of development, the industrial world is going Linux. (Indeed, I read online that the number one skill requirement for IT workers now IS LINUX!) I can see why this would be. Programmers seem to have standardised on a particular syntax – C. (It’s unreadable and total opaque to the common man. No wonder programmers love it. I speak as the one time interface between programmers and the rest of the team. I had to translate jargon into English!) Unix/Linux is arguably built around C and so, if you’ve chosen C as your syntax then Unix fits right in with that. Furthermore, the world’s code is definitely going Java. What language has been chosen to replace all that COBOL code…? Java. What syntax is becoming the standard in testing suites? I’ll let you guess...

Now think... Chrome is Linux. Android is Linux. The MacOS is Unix. It is also easier (I am told) to port a Linux app to Windows than vice versa. (Why does that not surprise?) So it pays to start with Linux and then port. It also means increasing kickback if you code for Windows!

I am learning Linux (indeed, gulp, Slackware) not because I especially want to but because a) Microsoft are just pushing users like me out into the cold with their new “we own you” licensing policy and b) because I can see that if I ever do go back full time into IT, I’m going to have to have some passing knowledge of Linux and (shudder) Java. (I was born ten years too late. I would have loved COBOL.) Anyway... it seems to be that programmers are being *pushed* towards Linux. If a developer wants to eat in the near future they are going to have to get down with Linux and Java. (Further evidence, I have a Delphi programmer who lives next door. He has just returned from a training course in Jakarta… in Java. I could have predicted the subject.)

What does that mean for the desktop? I’m not sure. Programmers only make up a small % of the population as a whole. But it seems to me that the world is quietly standardising on Linux and Java. And that means Microsoft are NOT with the curve. It also means apps are being created in Linux more and more as the FIRST OS. I spotted this in the UK as suddenly all the tools I was using were CLEARLY Linux ports. Even my old Video Editing system was a Linux port. Also, S/W has to be written more and more for thin client, browser type thing….. Sorry, brain fried. That software has t be written, tested and run from Linux based web servers.

That’s gotta mean something for the desktop OS. It certainly seems that M$ are being sidelined by the development industry now who are writing code for browsers and not Microsoft clients. (Indeed, while I believe fat client software such as Libreoffice will NOT die out, the old client server system will. POS and industrial software that requires servers is going to have to be web based, hence the migration from Microsoft to Linux/Java.) So a LOT of techies are going to have to go Linux, even if it’s a dual boot system.

Anyway, I’m too out of it to truly work out what this means. I get my life back in about April. But more development in Linux means more apps for Linux which means more pressure for Linux as the OS of choice, especially for business. I can see a future in which a lot of business go for Linux because all the industry standard code is Linux/browser based. Assuming that is the case, I am not sure that the average laptop purchaser is going to go all Linux yet but I can see businesses dropping Microsoft completely in the near term. Running Windows is positively counter productive when your server is Linux, your software is Linux/web based and Libreoffice can easily replace M$ office now without the stupid ribbon. And I can tell you know that the fat client S/W of my old company is NOT going to like running on Metro. Not at all. So Industrial users are going to start to think “What other stunts are M$ going to pull on my old but essential code? I think the last place Linux is going to win is going to be the home desktop. But the office OS…? I’m starting to see a Linux future. (And Macs are just too expensive to fit in 100 workstations for most companies, especially in the growing Far East where the business is going by wages remain low.)

Enough for now. Over to you. What do people think?
 
Old 02-17-2013, 08:58 PM   #2
kbp
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I think one factor preventing linux expansion into the desktop market is hardware vendors not open-sourcing their drivers, once they all make the move we'll have faster support for new hardware in the kernel and it won't be so pot-luck installing linux on a brand new machine.

Another issue is training, training staff on a new OS is not a trivial task, but when you look a the TCO it's a no-brainer - too many accountants getting kickbacks I think
 
Old 02-17-2013, 09:14 PM   #3
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I think one factor preventing linux expansion into the desktop market is hardware vendors not open-sourcing their drivers, once they all make the move we'll have faster support for new hardware in the kernel and it won't be so pot-luck installing linux on a brand new machine.

Another issue is training, training staff on a new OS is not a trivial task, but when you look a the TCO it's a no-brainer - too many accountants getting kickbacks I think
Drivers are definately a problem. There are a lot of reasons I am using a netbook - portability being one of them. I gotta have a machine I can carry from classroom to classroom on a constant basis. But also, a power desktop faces major driver issues.

However... Unbuntu is changing everything it seems. I mean, Unbuntu is so synonymous with Linux now that people just talk about Unbuntu rather than Linux. We have the beginnings of standardisaton here I think. (Though it's useless for some like me how needs to learn Linux and not just run apps.) Sticking slackware on the server would be painful but could already have happened. Workstations though - stick on Kubuntu which behaves a lot like Windows 7, get it connected online with Libreoffice installed and workers should pick things up fast. The average user just needs to run apps. Hey, I was wordprocessing, making PDF's, watching videos within an hour of installing SLACKWARE!!! Users want apps, not an OS.

Oddly enough, that's where Apple originally went wrong (and Linux too!!!) Apple spent so much time on their OS in the 1980's they woke up to discover that everyone had jumped to Windows 3.x because... all the killer apps were there and Apple didn't even have an office suite. They never got it back. That was also one of the things that infuriated me about Linux users. They rambled on and on and on and on about their wonderful kernal (and they did! Relentlessly) and I would point out, "Yeah, but what can you DO with it? Where's the software?"
"Linux has proper security and preemptive multitasking."
"Can you video edit with it? Is there an office suite that works?"
"...and it's scalable..."
"Hello? Is there a human being there or is this a Turing test?"

People want to run apps and NOT an OS! Linux is now, finally, at a position to install and run useful apps seamlessly. With Kunbuntu you can just show the user the launcher and Dolphin and that's probably enough for the average non-tech user.

By the same token, *ubuntu is useless for me! but Linux has renderings for all so there you go! Horses for courses!

But you make a valid point. The perception is that Linux is hard to use. it isn't. It's hard to CONTROL. That's different. So perception maybe an issue.

But if the market is going Linux to run apps and Windows gets in the way of running the new apps, I wonder how much longer business can afford not to go Linux? I'm not sure. That's why I'm asking but it seems no-one else is thinking about this! :-)
 
Old 02-17-2013, 09:55 PM   #4
kbp
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I won't get into a war with you over "Ubuntu is synonymous with linux" .. it depends on your point of view. Working in the corporate world I've only seen Ubuntu used once. It was never updated and only deployed as an image because they couldn't be bothered untangling the app dependencies.

But that's a little OT as we're talking about end users .. I agree, users do want apps. As long as the OS provides apps to do everything they want they're happy. Personally if I owned a business, I wouldn't be paying MS for an OS or an Office suite license, give staff a day of training and they'll be up and running.
 
Old 02-17-2013, 11:14 PM   #5
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I won't get into a war with you over "Ubuntu is synonymous with linux" .. it depends on your point of view. Working in the corporate world I've only seen Ubuntu used once. It was never updated and only deployed as an image because they couldn't be bothered untangling the app dependencies.

But that's a little OT as we're talking about end users .. I agree, users do want apps. As long as the OS provides apps to do everything they want they're happy. Personally if I owned a business, I wouldn't be paying MS for an OS or an Office suite license, give staff a day of training and they'll be up and running.
Trust me, there is no war. I do not think Unbuntu is synonymous with Linux for those who actually USE Linux. I am talking about the man on the street. The non-techies I talk about Linux and literally, when I say "Linux" they respond, "Oh, unbuntu." For end users unbuntu = Linux. Which is fine since that was the plan and it is getting Linux onto the desktop at last! The OEM vendors who are supplying Linux on the netbook are only supplying one version. Guess what it is?

Unbuntu has big name recognition. But that's distinct from server users, power users, techie users, specialist S/W users, etc, etc. In the corporate world Unbuntu is unlikely to the distro of choice. I am only talking about non-techie, home user name recognition. I hope that clarifies. In the corporate world, especially development, you need a Linux distro with proper tools and more control. *unbuntu does not really give that.

I do think that NOW Windows is becoming less and less usable in the workplace and, as you say, expensive. I wonder… given Unbuntu is on the public’s lips – they at least know what it is – and programmers seem to be being driven to Linux… I wonder how much Microsoft is literally being squeezed out not? The pressure is not great yet but I wonder…
 
Old 02-18-2013, 04:39 AM   #6
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It won't be long before it starts to bite, people will do the sums and realise what they're getting for their money. I'm currently at a place with 40000+ windows desktops, no small bill including Office.

I'm not sure that the developer push towards linux desktops is really there, virtualisation makes it simple for people to keep what they're comfortable with and work on something else. They do however need to learn *nix skills so it's a move in the right direction at least.

MacOS is quite a popular choice for a corporate desktop, people seem to like the macbook air.

Last edited by kbp; 02-18-2013 at 04:40 AM.
 
Old 02-18-2013, 01:27 PM   #7
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Linux is already the dominant operating-system out there ... because of Android.

You think of it as a phone, as a tablet, as a GPS device on the dashboard of your car ... but in fact it is a Linux machine.

At this point, it frankly does not matter what "laptop" or "desktop" machines may do. They won't disappear entirely but no one's gonna jump through hoops at this point to re-program them. They'll just let 'em ride, for whenever they happen to be at their desks. What they're carrying around with them, all the time, will be their hand-held machines.

But here's the trick: they don't even know what operating-system their hand-held devices are running, and they most-emphatically don't care. They don't want to have to care, and that's the entire point that the computer industry has been missing up to now.

To the conventional software point-of-view, "Linux | OSX | Windows" was the most-important thing, and "whatever the user wanted to do" was secondary. Thus, no one seemed to be the slightest bit bothered by the notion of "converting" their computers to an entirely different ("but it's much better! really!!") way of doing .. the same damm thing .. which by-the-way was the only "thing" that the customer was ever trying to do. The "conventional software" point-of-view was merely adding useless and irrelevant complications to what was already perceived to be an unnecessarily complicated picture.

In the real world, nobody gives a tinker's dam how their car works. They are at "Point A" and they'll make money by getting to "Point B" and if "a car" is the way to get there, so be it ... but don't expect or require me to know how my car works, and definitely don't expect me to bring a mechanic along.

My grandmother doesn't turn on her laptop anymore: she uses a tablet for everything and her only viewpoint is, "what took you so long?"

She has an excellent point.
 
Old 02-19-2013, 12:29 PM   #8
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A few points occur to me.

1. The tablet vs pc argument confuses recreational users with professionals. Ever tried to use a tablet to do accounting or CAD, or to write a book?

2. A lot comes down to education. The system people learn in school will be the one employers put in offices because there'll be no need to retrain. With countries ranging from Brazil to Russia switching to Linux in their schools, we might end up with Windows being an Anglo-American thing!
 
Old 02-20-2013, 08:02 AM   #9
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You can attach a keyboard to a tablet ... use it with disconnected storage ... and, let's face it, there isn't that much difference anymore between "a laptop" and "a tablet with a keyboard attached."

However ... change does happen slowly, and with good reason it will never entirely happen at all. The computers, whatever they are, are there to do a job, and they're doing that job.

The growing preponderance of Linux, in my humble, is coming from Android-based mobile devices, which are in just about everyone's pocket now with the notable exception of the ... ... 4PPL3 F4NB0Y5. What's being totally left-out of this new development is Microsoft = Windows®, because that company simply never took Linux seriously and therefore could only envision an x86-based laptop running ("of course! what else could they be running?" ... heh ...) Microsoft Windows.

(They also naďvely think that, "as long as we call it Microsoft Windows®, no one will care if it's really not the same thing." Fact is, they simply don't have a lean-and-mean version of their flagship system, nor is it possible to strip it down. A software developer, for any OS including Windows, is being expected to roll out yet-another version of their product to support this "great new thing." It isn't great, it isn't new, and the answer is "no.")

They didn't understand cloud computing, either, which means: "why do you know and why do you care where the computer(s) you're using actually is?" When you use most services on a portable phone, that phone does not possess the on-board horsepower (yet!) to do the job, but it simply talks to a computer out there that does. Furthermore, the code that does this and the API that it uses is open.

A company that has based its entire business model on proprietary, and on arbitrary and capricious license-fees which "proprietary" enables a company to charge, simply doesn't comprehend open-ness. When Lou Gertsner took the helm of IBM Corporation, he saw that company in the thick of the same thing, and what he successfully did about it was the subject of "Who Says Elephants Can't Dance?" ... a must-read, I think. Microsoft made its fortune from IBM's DOS but never yet learned IBM's lesson. (Eventually, they will, but Steve Ballmer won't be at the helm to see it.)

Last edited by sundialsvcs; 02-20-2013 at 08:05 AM.
 
Old 02-26-2013, 04:56 AM   #10
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Funny thing is, it seems that plenty of companies that use MS-Windows or MacOS on their desktops, use Linux to run their Web Sites, especially it appears RHEL is used a lot.

It's not even just Linux under the name "Android" that needs to be counted. It's also media Servers/Players that use Linux, and other "embedded" applications that don't advertise that they use Linux, that need to be counted. I keep wondering if we need a different metric. Perhaps, instead of the number of machines that are running a given OS, maybe we need a metric like the amount of dollars made from machines running a given OS.

Finally, I know plenty of developers whose companies have them develop under MS-Windows, but the Developers also install something like Cygwin, to improve their development environment. So counting that machine purely as an MS-Windows machine, is a bit of a cheat.
 
Old 02-26-2013, 07:57 PM   #11
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Most computer users, especially home computer users, have never and will never install an OS.

They are afraid to. Those of us who happily install this or that OS are a minuscule minority.

DOS captured the market because personal computers came with DOS. Windows and Apple, the same way: the computers came with Windows or the Mac OS of the day.

Until customers can bring home computers with Linux already installed on them with full knowledge that they are getting Linux, Linux will not capture the consumer desktop market. There will never be a "year of the Linux desktop" until that happens.

That's why Microsoft fights so hard when a manufacturer, such as Dell, attempts to sell Linux.
 
Old 02-27-2013, 07:54 AM   #12
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Frankbell, I certainly agree that Linux needs to be installed on a PC for it to be used. Yes, installation is psychologically, if not technically beyond the ability of the average user. There were signs this was happening and then the tablet happened.

In regards to the Tablet... Actually I only just realised yesterday that the tablet IS replacing the desktop. It's wiped out the netbook (just as I bought mine!) and is killing the laptop - further and faster than anyone imagined.

It seems clear to me now, but only since yesterday, that the future is tablet. Portable tablet devices and docking stations (I am dubious of hybrid machine. People want tablets, not PC wannbies. People will go with a docking station over a hybrid) I am certain now are the future.

Now, as has been mentioned, that equals a Linux desktop in the form of Android.
But... where does that leave users like me who want to use a CLI, who want 'full' Linux - slackware even, and want to be productive. I am even looking at video editing as a possibility.

A tablet does not meet my needs. But I kind of see a future in which the olde PC just will not exist. Well, there will be desktops (but not laptops. I predict they will be rendered extinct fast!) for content producers like myself but costing twice as much as now. Back to the days of $1500 desktops circa 1995.

Where will the various distros of Linux go then? Can 'pure' Linux ever go on a netbook - in the sense of having a cli, being able to use the current apps out there? I can't see it myself.
 
Old 02-27-2013, 08:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
In regards to the Tablet... Actually I only just realised yesterday that the tablet IS replacing the desktop. It's wiped out the netbook (just as I bought mine!) and is killing the laptop - further and faster than anyone imagined.
As far as I am concerned, this is true insofar as it applies to persons for which a computer is a source of passive entertainment--something they watch, like a television--and, to a lesser extent, to persons who need to stay in touch while they are on the go.

I certainly wouldn't want to do a spreadsheet or a complex document or script on a tablet--and, if you posit attaching a keyboard to the tablet, what have you got?

A netbook.

One of the Tuxradar crew went off on tablets in a big way in the most recent episode: http://www.tuxradar.com/content/podc...on-5-episode-3
 
Old 02-27-2013, 08:43 PM   #14
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Many desktop users (especially home users) either don't even know that there are reasonable alternatives to Windows, or have no need to switch over to something different and learn new things and sacrifice time for getting everything to work as it used to be, at least to some degree, getting comfortable etc., so why bother changing over if one's browser still displays websites and one's music player still plays music. Okay, except for the virus plague and a few other issues. But it's human nature to be uncomfortable with the thought of major changes in their routine life.

Regarding the OS world, POSIX compatible systems (incl. Android etc.) have the advantage that software can be ported over to another with far less headaches than between Windows and anything else. Other non-standard systems (other than Windows) don't really have any realistic chance on the market anymore, and i find it unlikely that someone would be able to come up with something totally different and then just storm the world with it, having the whole planet turn their backs on the existing standards, not to mention the cost for doing so, i.e., porting all existing softwares over.

Hardware drivers are certainly some sorta showstopper for Linux, but less and less so in recent years. Hardware support is becoming better and better. The reason that there is still a lack of hardware support is that MS is in bed with hardware manufacturers who supply any information about their hardware products over to MS months (or even years) in advance before their products even appear on the market, so Windows users already have drivers ready when the new hardware finally enters the stores. That is the time when Linux & other systems have to pick up the hardware and begin reverse-engineering ways to create drivers for that stuff. Although, like i said, it's really getting better.

One other reason for the Windows dominance for the PC desktop market is games. But that is changing also, regarding Wine, Valve and other recent developments (people fed up with Windows 8, Windows Blue and MS's endless greed) which begin to strongly reduce the distance between Windows & Linux.

Other markets (server, mobile, supercomputer) are already dominated by Linux anyhow. Only the PC desktop is MS domain, but also steadily shrinking.

And eventually, i really don't care anymore about this stuff, as i can see the trend and given the current situation, i got everything i need or want with Linux, be it as private user, workplace/office user, server admin or developer. Linux is the way to go. And i also don't even wish that the entire world switches over to Linux, other than the fact that i could entirely abandon Windows when it comes to support for Windows from the viewpoint of a software developer. Phew, another burden off the shoulder.

Comes time, comes Linux..
 
Old 02-28-2013, 10:05 AM   #15
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>>As far as I am concerned, this is true insofar as it applies to persons for which a computer is a source of passive entertainment--something they watch, like a television--and, to a lesser extent, to persons who need to stay in touch while they are on the go.

>I certainly wouldn't want to do a spreadsheet or a complex document or script on a tablet--and, if you posit attaching a keyboard to the tablet, what have you got?

>A netbook

I agree, I agree, I agree! But the problem is.. 90% of users *are* content consumers. I am a content producer but I am in the minority. I accept that. I'll be stuck with an expensive desktop in the future. Users like me will be relegated to 'exclusive, professional equipment.' For portable it will be tablet or nothing.

In regards to the netbook. It's dead. the tablet has killed it. There are NO manufacturers of netbooks left. None. Zero zip. All of those that have dropped the netbook are manufacturing tablets. I tell people "The tablet is the PC now. The laptop (leave alone the netbook) is dead."
And you know what? They all smile! The public LOVE the tablet! They want the PC as it exists to die and be replaced by the one the go entertainment/communications device. I, myself, have described the tablet as a mobile phone that can watch movies and play games.
And that's what the public want! People are cheering the takeover by the tablet!

The netbook is dead. All pundits now agree that the PC will be effectively replaced by the tablet this year. The PC will exist - as a desktop. Laptops are dead, not seen as portable or friendly enough. Desktops will have to double in price in order to make a profit - but they won't disappear as professionals need them but they will ONLY be used by professionals and rich gamers.

In terms of a keyboard for a tablet - you can plug an USB keyboard into a tablet right now. Docking stations will come. They are not here yet because the revolution has come faster than anyone expected. I also predict a pen device in which you enter text by handwriting will quickly appear and assist in productivity.

Now, that does NOT work for me!!! A tablet will never do programming or video editing or music editing and I would hate to use it for word processing but you and I do not equal anything like sufficient sales.

The general public have spoken - loud and clear with sales of tablet exceeding three times the most extreme optimistic estimates for 2012/2013. By the end of the year the laptop will have gone the way of the netbook. No-one, and I mean no-one wants a laptop when they use a tablet for portability - except the programmer or video editor.

I don't like it - I have no replacement for my netbook - but my money does not match that of a 100,000 equivalent content consumers who want a large, gaming mobile phone.

So how is Linux going to cope with this new world? It *is* a new world. How will Linux adjust to this to be usable by content producers? How will the likes of Slackware adjust???!!

I can see lots of distros vanishing. I don't think people in Linux land have realised just how the world has changed. I hadn't until a couple of days ago. Just type in "Tablet death PC" and read. The figures tell their own story, leave alone the commentaries. The phrase "Post-Pc world" tells the story too.

The Tablet is the new PC. That's now fact. Not even theory now. So how does Linux adjust? I mean, real, CLI, apps driven Linux and not Android?
 
  


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