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They do not come because they do not care

Posted 01-27-2011 at 05:32 AM by AGer

Linux captured 2% of the desktop and is not moving anywhere despite all the Ubuntu efforts. It took me long time before I could formulate my understanding of the WHY.

Re: 2%. Some say it is 1% and the other say it is biased. Yet the other say it should be estimated at 5% based on indirect data. My impression is that whenever I run over something that looks both measured and unbiased in the Net, it is 2%. So, let it be 2%. The number does not matter much, what matters is that it is stagnating.

Long long ago a smart and competent Windows person I know had an encounter with both server and desktop Linux. Being successful, he commented on Linux: "It will never be popular unless it is possible to install a program." It took me years, literally, to understand he was right.

On Windows, it is enough to click at most twice and everything (well, not exactly; things ported from Linux may behave differently) is installed and works. Happy Linux users believe it is at least as easy or better on Linux, with all that fancy package managers, but they are wrong. It is easy to install only that which is in a repository, but too often a repository contains an outdated version or an application is missing.

Example, valid at the time of writing: go to the page of the highest ranking rolling release distribution on Distrowatch, the ARCH Linux. Who the MySql and XOrg developers are working for?

Current Linux users are not going mad about that because they understand the development process and care about their systems. For example, if I am using Slackware, I definitely want everything to be installed the Slackware way. I need the repository or a slackbuild. If I install a media player and want it at top performance, I am ready to compile. If I care a lot about my system, I accept that it may behave differently than the one on the next desk.

The majority does care but not much. The absence of an installer (or ZIP archive for Registry keepers), an obsolete or just not the latest version, inability to discuss "solutions" to "problems" with peers on the "I clicked here" basis - all are Linux show stoppers.

Of course, those who do not care at all can and do use Linux if it is preinstalled. That's another extreme.

Thus, Linux desktop domination is currently impossible.

In Linux parley, Windows is a disro without maintainers or, put differently, a distro that is maintained by upstream developers. To get a chance to dominate on the desktop, Linux must have the same. There must be a distro that all the developers target.

Once I thought that if Ubuntu becomes the standard it would be it. Wrong. Ubuntu is a periodically released binary distro and we need a rolling release source one. If there is one, it will be much easier to maintain all other distributions, everything will be the latest and greatest by definition, and the end users who want things "just work" will be as comfortable as current Windows users are.

I do not see how that may happen. Nothing can discipline Linux developers on par with Microsoft. So, no hope, .NET rules.
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  1. Old Comment
    I think as more people become familiar with 'app stores' and appreciate how similar (Note, similar not the same.) they are to a Linux distro's repositories they'll apreciate the benefits in security and stability that we enjoy over the free-for-all mess that installing apps on a Windows machine ends up as.
    Posted 01-27-2011 at 08:03 AM by rich_c rich_c is offline
  2. Old Comment
    In a fully static linked linux, we would see universal binaries. However, we only see partial static linked binaries such as drivers, blender, openoffice, firefox and other software that is designed for one large purpose. And even in that respect you have blender which is designed to fit into both the *nix file hierarchy while at the same time can exist in the users /home... Not sure if openoffice can do the same. I haven't tried.

    The old standard of /home does not quite fit the way windows users install software. They expect a /Program Files and shortcut links instead of properly defined PATH variables. Not to mention the concept of a symbolic link is completely lost on them. Rather I should say, they try and compare it to their windows shortcut links which are more akin to .desktop files.

    There is one linux distro, pointed out on 'general', that attempts to Windowize the *nix file tree. GoboLinux. But even this would require polkit and packaged binaries to install the packages.

    It almost seems like the only fix for this all is that more software programmers release universal static binaries for their programs that will target specific glibc/python/java versions and allow a user to install it as they please. Granted this is an extra compliance measure when so many even have troubles working with automake and or standards regarding the hicolor icon theme and desktop files.
    Posted 01-27-2011 at 12:08 PM by lumak lumak is offline


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