Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

The need for the Linux Proliferation Agreement

The year of Linux on the Desktop (May 1st, 2023)
“There is something brewing in the world of Linux, because this year really seems to become the year Linux makes serious headway on the desktop. For Linus Torvalds it is the addition of synchromatic memory support into the new kernel 6.4.12-28 that is a serious and major step in the right direction. ‘We now have support for voicecontrolled systems at the kernel level’. In a few months time we will also see the first distributions with ext9 as the default filesystem, like MepubianSpire and Novell Red Hat. Mark Shuttleworth, the ever active CEO of MepubianSpire, is thrilled about the prospect. ‘Wonkey Willy will be the most stable innovative distribution we present to our users and with another delay of Microsoft Himalaya at hand this is the window of opportunity to aggressively increase our market share on the desktop’.”

So, when will it really happen? The breakthrough of Linux on the desktop is expected for years now and each year we draw the conclusion that it didn’t happen. Yet. And 2007 looked promising. Windows Vista is way to expensive, requires a serious hardware upgrade and for what? Eye candy that was available for Linux 6 months ago! Well, it was available for that group of Linux hackers that could install the right drivers for their graphical cards and had no qualms adding the repositories for Beryl/Compiz. Linux mainstream will have to wait until Ubuntu ‘Gutsy Gibbon’, which may have that feature. Or not.

What is lacking in modern Linux distributions?
But let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves the following question. “What is missing from the current generation of Linux distributions which prevent a regular and day to day use of Linux, both at home as in organizations?” And -please- don’t start pointing at your iPods. Why not? Because iPod is a relatively young technology and it is just a matter of time before support is added. It did take time for Windows and Mac OSX to properly support the new toy and every once in a while even Apple screws up an update. So, what is missing? Word processing? Calculation? Email and groupware? Access management for users in organizations? Multimedia functionality? Security? I am sorry, but I can’t think of anything that would be needed before 90% of the current Windows userbase van migrate to Linux. In fact, I am even willing to state that Linux has been ready to breakthrough to the desktop for a few years now. But why is it not happening?

Now, all in harmony: “Yeah, but what do you expect. Every computer you buy has Windows pre-installed”. That’s correct. Even a staunch Linux supporter as HP sells desktop computer with Windows, not Linux. “Indeed”, do the channel partners say, “but there is no demand for anything else”. Which is correct as well. No demand, no supply. And, vice versa, when there is no supply it is hard to get any demand as well. When discussing the breakthrough of Linux it is usually a discussion between the technophilia. For them it makes sense, gadgets will sell themselves, right?…. Wrong!

The commercial disadvantage of Linux
Microsoft is not just a dominant factor when it comes to the supply chain, with or without serious discounts to the channel partners. The people in Redmond know exactly what to do to promote demand for Windows. Why do you think hardware suppliers and the store owners where elated with Vista? You think it was the alleged technological superiority of the new operating system? Think again. Vista needs at least 1 Gb of RAM, twice the amount of XP. Plus a graphics card with at least 256 Mb of RAM on board. And… Just add to your own list. Vista means dollars for producers and merchants. Oh, and the complaints of some softwarefirms had less to do with the alleged (lack of) quality of Vista, but more the fact that they didn’t belong to the first tier partners at the Vista launch. They wanted their own spot on the Windows marketplace. Dollars….

And now Linux? Sorry, but hardly interesting in a commercial sense. Linux runs pretty well and very fast on yesterday’s hardware. But that hardware is sold already. Linux doesn’t bring a new revenue stream or an opportunity to increase prices for the same functionality.

But.. what about consumer demand? That could change things? In theory, yes, but only when there is a critical mass of users that request Linux. But consider the following:

– At teacher training colleges teachers have the opportunity to get certificates of the European Computer Drivers License (ECDL). Most text books only deal with Windows and Microsoft Office;
– For most children, the first experience with computers, at home or at school, is Windows, MSN and Microsoft Office;
РUsers of internetcaf̩s or e-centers sit down behind computers with Windows, MSN and Microsoft Office.

So, when do you think the critical mass of Linux users is reached to make a difference in the market place?

Moving towards critical mass
Let’s make a few things clear. Right now there are more than enough distributions that can be used by endusers at home and in a business environment from day to day. The remaining problems with hardware and software can be fixed quite easily. For a small group those problems can be a good reason to postpone a wholesale migration. We don’t have to, shouldn’t wait for the next generation of new features in Linux. And it definitely is of no use to wait for the box builders to see the light and watch them exchange Windows for Linux. Linux will not breakthrough on the desktop because we wish it so. What do we need to do, other than wait until 2023, for Linux to make it to the desktop? We need to do more.

The development and distribution of Linux is mostly determined by two groups: the developers and the companies that use Linux as a competitive tool towards Microsoft. We can see some local and national governments contributing by ‘demanding’ the use of open standards and open source software. It’s a start, but -again- we shouldn’t wait for nor trust in it. More than one government reversed it’s decision to migrate to Linux and who knows what happens after the next elections. As long as Windows is dominant in the public domain (education, e-centers, internetcafé’s) we will hardly see a change in it’s use. We – the Linux desktop users- are but a marginal group. Some of us try to convince friends, relatives and neighbors and we are almost jubilant when we have made a ‘convert’. We almost ‘live’ in Linux forums and IRC channels to lend a hand to newbie users with problems. And please, keep on doing that.

To reach a critical mass of Linux endusers takes time. What we need is the establishment of an international community, a movement that is dedicated to the worldwide promotion and distribution of Linux as a system for endusers, analogous to the international developer communities that made Linux possible as a system. Why should it only be the hackers that altruistically devote their precious time and energy? Don’t you think it is time for us – the early adopters- to follow their example in a structured and organized way? I seriously endorse launching a Linux Proliferation Agreement, a charter which will the basis for a pro-active promotion of Linux by qualified endusers.

The Linux Proliferation Agreement
What should the Linux Proliferation Agreement entail? In short: to make Linux ubiquitous in the public domain. This means establishing public e-centers, well maintained, with constant personal support and where people can get training and courses in the use of Linux and open source software. It means offering low level training and courses in community centers and on schools, for children, parents and professionals in branches other than IT. It means using all sorts of media to make Linux visible, in the local media and targeted media. No general purpose articles, but indepth articles providing Linux and open source solutions for real day to day problems in organizations. It also means developing educational tools for LPA courses and training, but also for use in schools. We need an ECDL that is completely build around open source and with which candidates can get certified.

The Linux Proliferation Agreement shouldn’t be a rag tag band of volunteers, but should be organized analogous to the Debian Project. The LPA charter sets out a clear goal and purpose and quality should be first and foremost. The organization and it’s reputation needs to be build in such a way that enlisting the help of an LPA volunteer is synonymous with getting a high quality endresult. To achieve this the LPA needs a system of internal training and coaching. Plus some form of certification. Organizations should have access to an online register of certified LPA volunteers. Branding is one of the key tasks of the LPA organizations, with the development of marketing kits etc. The quality and the network are required to attract funding and sponsorships.

Towards a roadmap
What does it mean for you and me? Well, maybe we are asked to assist in our local e-center a few hours each week. Or to provide an extensive training in OpenOffice.org in our local community center, on Saturday afternoon, for the next 20 weeks. One thing needs to be clear from the outset: joining the Linux Proliferation Agreement brings a new set of obligations. But is it different for the developers of Linux? When there is a serious problem with the kernel, don’t we expect a solution or at least a quick fix within hours? I will work on a roadmap for the Linux Proliferation Agreement in the months ahead. Who will join me?

Tags: Linux, education, Linux Proliferation Agreement

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42 thoughts on “The need for the Linux Proliferation Agreement

  1. Martin Owens on said:

    Yes, try and structure in the existing LoCo teams, LUGs and various other groups of people that can be organised around a single body.

  2. Definitely. There are great groups out there and some of them are already doing parts of what I propose here. The key point is to take it to the next level and make it more structured, more focused and with an overall goal to make Linux visible and tangible in the public domain. To achieve a shift from focusing on your own peer group to focusing on a public service role. Not every member of a LoCo team, LUG etc. will want that or is able to involve him-/herself to that extent.

  3. I am a video editor. I have Linux on 2 of my computers. It works fine for me on a day to day basis, but there is absolutely no software for Linux that compares to Sony Vegas, Adobe After Effects, and Creative Suite. You can offer me alternatives all day, but I’ve checked them out…they all suck.

    It is pretty simple to develop a program to rip CDs, watch DVDs, make the interface look cool, etc. But developing something like OpenOffice is a completely different story. OpenOffice got developed because everyone and their mother needs this type of software. Unfortunately, advanced video and creative software is not so commonplace and much more difficult to develop.

    On top of that, most people who work in these types of fields have enough to do to keep up with the software changes that take place on a month to month basis, let alone learn how to develop these types of programs for a different platform. The only way this will work is if the people who work in the creative field put money directly towards developing alternatives for Linux. And even then, there is still the problem that all the best minds on this are already employed and have probably signed non-compete contracts.

    That is the problem with Linux. You can say there is a ton of software until you are blue in the face and you wouldn’t be wrong. But until there is very advanced software for very specific niche markets it, unfortunately, simply won’t be anything more than a novelty for most people. There is kind of a catch 22 here, obviously, and I don’t know what the answer is. But I have gas now and need to hit send so I can leave this desk for a minute.

  4. No Catch22 Eric ;-). The public domain I am referring to is less demanding for it’s needs. For some groups of users it is simply not yet feasable to migratie completely to Linux and/or open source software and the programs you mention are good examples that might prevent that. We simply don’t have to wait until Adobe thinks it wise to make Linux versions of their offering. That will happen anyway if we can make Linux ubiquitous in the public domain. When children learn to edit photo’s with GIMP, how long will it take for Photoshop to have a native Linux version?
    The LPA is a long term program and time can be on your side.

  5. scott denton on said:

    Windows users double-click an installer application, and things install, complete with a shortcut on the desktop or start button to use the new program. Linux can install things too, but figuring out where, or how is not a simple task. Most people want to drive a car and don’t care to tinker with all the parts. When you can just get in it and go, then Linux will win users.

  6. scott, you know.. it’s actually simpler to install apps on linux than clicking an installer application. the package manager does it all with a single-click. no downloading installers, checking versions, configuring paths.. browse the list of apps and install and run..

  7. I tried Kubuntu once, the paritioning tool literally screwed up my drive.. my main point is, Linux is too diversed. There are so many different distributions, so many different applications that do pretty much the same thing .. Many users want to buy something that “just works”. Take for example the Macs, you buy one according to your budget.. that’s all, no need to figure out which OS to install, Gnome or KDE, blah blah blah..

    what scott mentioned about program installation is true.. the dependency problem is a nightmare! Sure, when I donloaded Kubuntu (6.x if not mistaken), they said program installation was a breeze too, but I couldn’t get my mp3s to play even after a long struggle..

    I remember when Vista launched with 5+ editions, people were complaining away.. dude, how many Linux distributions are there?? Let’s not forget each distribution has different “editions” too..

  8. Call on me anytime. Ready to sign up for an organised project such as this. Great idea.

  9. Actually, installing software with Ubuntu is as easy as going to Applications -> Install/Remove… In this case the old dependency hell is a thing of the past. Things don’t just work in Windows, people were educated to work with the OS. With Windows you don’t have a partitioning problem, it just pushes itself to the prime spot and doesn’t add any other operating system to the bootloader.
    I am not saying there are no problems with Linux or open source applications. I am just saying the problems with the Windows side seem less due to all the education and the attention the magazines give to those problems.

  10. Pingback: The need for the Linux Proliferation Agreement « News Coctail

  11. ThereCanBeOnlyOne on said:

    The reason that Linux will never make it to the desktop is that there are too many versions of Linux to choose from. While it is confusing for consumers, it is a non-starter for developers. I will write for one platform, perhaps two, but my limit is three. If I can reach 99% of my customers with MSFT and MacOS, then why should I try to guess which of the 10 or 20 desktop versions my customers use.
    The Linux community needs to stop their bickering and come to a conclusion. Pick one. Then support it. If 1% of the market is all using the same desktop version, developers will notice. Until then, Linux is nothing but noise.

  12. scott denton on said:

    From my experience last week with Fedora5 and 6 both. I am trying to set up a simple application to run on a server. There is not a simple way to do this in Linux. For instance, compare setting up Apache and IIS. I am not talking about which is better, I am talking about which easier to understand. Add a virtual directory in Apache. I know that is not a Linux problem, but represents the way things are done in in Linux as well. It is so easy to get lost people give up. Alex, it is easy to install with yum, or even right clicking and installing etc. . however try to find the way to even start the program you installed afterwards. As a developer, I have learned, peole don’t want to know how to do something, they want YOU to know what they want to do and anticipate it. Massive adoption can be spurred by cost, security, or capabilities, but to be honest, us US consumers are too lazy to learn much.

  13. Joe M on said:

    There are two major problems that need to be handled.

    First, you guys are dead on with the installation problems. It’s been years since I’ve had to dig through a windows registry to get rid of residual junk after uninstalling software. I have Xubuntu at home, and I can’t even get certain software to install in the first place because of dependency problems – basic stuff like GnuCash.

    Every package handler I’ve ever dealt with has had me monkeying around on the command line at some point. If I’m going to be on the command line, I’m not going to fool around with GUI package managers at all. Either the GUI managers work 100% of the time, or the average user doesn’t use it.

    Second, MS has forced us all into a filesystem paradigm that can’t be unlearned all that easily. Now I’m not talking about giving up the C: drive. I’m talking about how the *nix file system requires root privileges to do anything outside your home.

    If I’m running a linux box and my wife and I both have accounts, and she (in some completely unforseeable future) wants to install a game, she needs root privileges in order to make it available to all users. Until someone figures out a way for her to do that without root privileges, it’s not going to be a home computer – it’s going to remain a work computer.

    These two things always bog me down about 25% of the time I’m on the computer at home. I have to work, gratis, to make linux work at home. I guess the root problem is that you need a professional to keep the damn thing working. Until linux lets you just install & go, MS wins.

  14. Errr, yeah, sounds kinda good. Though I’m a newbie, having just installed Feisty Fawn, it’s all a bit simple so I’d be up for giving dual-install demos and CDs away at the local library.

  15. phoenixget on said:

    Your article is very well written, and has many good points. However, you missed the 800 pound gorilla standing in the middle of the room.

    Games.

    No matter how you want to slice and dice it, no one cares what schools use, or businesses for that matter (well, ok, like 90% of people don’t care). Rather they want to “WoW” or get their “Evercrack” on, do their Civ thing, etc…

    Until these games start getting converted over – or wine comes preinstalled, preconfigured, and horribly simple to use…. People are simply NOT going to mass-migrate to Linux.

    I wish it were not so, I love me some Ubuntu, but setting up Wine was a nightmare, and I ONLY ran WoW on it, nothing else.

  16. Stop the Madness on said:

    What we need is a Linux NON-Proliferation agreement. Stop creating new versions, stop forking the kernel. Stop adding new geewiz GUI options. Stop forcing developers to rewrite and recompile for every update.

    “Linux” does not represent one OS. It represents hundreds. I cannot develop for a hundred OS’s. I can develop for one.

    Come on. Stop all the whining. If you cannot agree within the Linux community which desktop version should be THE desktop version, why should people outside the community care.

    Ubuntu, Gnome, KDE. GIMP, Kubuntu. These aren’t even product names. They are elitist terms used to EXCLUDE the general public. Until someone with a bit of marketing saavy and the smallest concern for the CONSUMER comes along to make Linux accessible, it will continue to be an academic exercise for a small sophisticated community.

  17. You should check out http://homecomputerhelp.org and http://freedomdrive.org

    (both have ideas for this proliferation, interested?)

  18. you should set up a mailing list so you can let us know when you get this thing rolling. i’d sign on and help out.

  19. Alex N on said:

    You made a very good point in your “future” introduction of the article- but perhaps not what you intended to say. Linux isn’t *done yet*.

    It’s never done.

    It’s never been *done*.

    Sure, it supports GUI features through compiz/beryl, has wizards and easy installers- all are basically unstable and not quite *finished*. Linux, as long as its a community project, is damned to an eternity of almost finished features nipping at the heels of the companies with drive, focus, and money.

    if someone wants to offer me a finished linux distribution, I’d gladly consider proliferating it- but Linux is not like Mac OS X, watching a Windows convert sit down and use it is not a magical and easy process- consumers just plain don’t like it unless they’re enthusiasts.

  20. Matthew C. Tedder on said:

    This LPA is a fine concept, in principle. Bringing it farther than that will take enormous time, enthusiasm, and dedication. While I am a software developer and need to focus on that, I wouldn’t mind offering assistance in various other ways–f it isn’t too burdensome of my time.

    But allow me to bring into light two more dimensions of the overall problem and my own proposed solutions:

    (1) The splintered GNU/Linux Software Market.
    — Software packages have to fit into a specific version of a specific distribution that changes before most vendors can even get their product to market. This is an absolute deal-breaker for ~90% of Independant Software Vendors (ISVs).

    (2) The unfinished nature of applications.
    — Even when you buy SuSE or some other Free or Open Source (FOSS) software, it normally comes with little to no documentation or tutorials. And, downloading it often requires complex configuration for which on-line documentation is mostly out-of-date.

    Solving these problems:

    (1) Build an ISV business selling products based on the distribution-neutral and user-friendly “AutoPackage”, adding illustrated tutorial booklets and an IRC-based support network.
    — This will enable rapid and continuous introduction of new products into one large market consolidated from today’s many splintered and short-lived segments, and bring more general fan-fare to individual FOSS applications in their own right.

    (2) Build a GNU/Linux Distribution-Builder that makes it easy for anyone to make their own distribution.
    — If done such a manner as being based on AutoPackage, the proliferation of these distributions will serve to increase market-widening standards and at the same time, protect diversity within this infrustructure.

    We absolutely need to kill-off the current (highly destructive) regime of each version of each distribution having its own package hierarchy of which all software must comply. Only then will we have a single GNU/Linux market in which applications can mature more and faster for end-users.

    Matthew

  21. There are many things lacking from linux. Here are a few:
    -Simple instals
    -Good ati Drivers
    -Simple extended moniter support
    -Simple alternative language input
    -Mature word processing and suites

    The fact of the matter is, there is no windows proliiferation agreement. It is; while buggy and terrible, mostly intuitive save a few specifics like detailed network set ups.

    Linux will never be a mainstream competitor until more distro’s have one click instals and way more plug in plays as Ubuntu is striving so hard to do. Basically, when full functionality is realized without a command line.

    ~Karl

  22. Damon on said:

    I would love to switch to a Linux system. I am duel booting with Ubuntu 7.04 which now, out of the box, recognizes my screen an laser mouse which I really appreciate. This is not enough however and I am currently only using the faster drive with Ubuntu installed for backing up my Windows files.

    When I bought my e-Machine (I am a grad student an price is all important) it came with a printer (Canon Pixma MP160) which Linux doesn’t have a free driver for (that I can find). A friend of mine found a working HP-7410 at the dump and gave it to me and after a few hours I gave up trying to find a free driver for it. I can assemble a computer but I was weened on Windows and have a hard time figuring out what I need to do to make my hardware work in Linux. And my machine came with Windows preinstalled so I don’t know how to install a Windows shell inside Ubuntu without going out and buying another copy of XP.

    Speaking for the mass market that buys the cheapest machine that will work as simply as possible, if someone like me can’t find the way to print a document made in Openoffice with out buying a printer on the approved hardware list, the who operating system is useless. I would love to set up machines with Linux for my friends if I could only figure out how to do it for myself.

    For those technophiles out there, until your mother can set up all of her computer equipment with Linux in under 3 hrs (without knowing where to look online and without your help) it isn’t going to happen.

  23. Ezequiel Martin Camara on said:

    First, this is a great idea. Please someone take it and implement it.

    Second, one effort that will create an immense amount of linux proficient computer users, is the school computerization project in Andalucia and Extremadura, two regions in southern Spain. The plan is to put a computer per two kids in every public school class, with an Ubuntu based distribution (LinEx and GuadaLinEx). The kids (150k), the teachers (my mother in law, a teacher, is double booting already), the parents, all will be exposed to Linux, with a government-paid support service. I just hope that this, and the OLPC, will add to the necessary critical mass.

  24. steve on said:

    The amount of non-sense spoken here is really overwhelming, if those people with a level of knowledge below zero just took a few minutes to inform theirselves before posting bs it would have been a good idea.

    For instance: “And -please- don’t start pointing at your iPods. Why not? Because iPod is a relatively young technology and it is just a matter of time before support is added.”
    Please what? Last time a friend of mine brought one with him, he just plugged it in, it was recognized within seconds including the appropriate color, so that the desktop icon fits the real one. Without installing anything. I could copy music to and from the iPod, a thing you can’t do with iTunes.

    “Oh it’s so hard ISV’s to support Linux because there are so many versions of it …”
    You never heard of LSB, right?

    But really, keep using Windows, nobody wants you here. I will always have fun watching how little virii keep visiting your systems, because Windows is not even able to install software properly.

  25. I’ve tried a ton of varieties of linux since the early 90’s, and the only one which has consistently been worth a damn has been Mandrake / Mandriva. Its never been dead on perfect, but with some work you cat at least work with it to run right. A lot of the other versions of Linux are just a broken mess.

    The Linux community needs to pound oen thing into its head, over and over again: IT JUST HAS TO WORK, AND WORK RIGHT, RIGHT OUT OF THE BOX. No config files to edit, no further libes to install, no having to get down into the ugliness of things and slog your way around on a shell prompt or through Linux How Tos.

    The biggest offender for me, has not been Linux, but Samba. Samba is a piece of crap. Correction, Samba is a wonderful piece of software, that ships with some bullshit for default settings that has it nonfunctional (ie locked down from the start). WRONG. With a default install of Samba, you try to browse a share, and get hit in the face with password prompts, which no combination of passwords will ever get you passed, and so you’re mucking around smb.conf. If you’re lucky, you finally figure out how to turn on Guest Browsing, and setup some shares. Most people throw it away long before that. Get rid of this damn password mentality.

    Second, and I can’t stress this enough, because this WAS the big LINUX KILLER APP. The SLEEP FUNCTION on Windows. To be able to put your computer to sleep, it powers down totally except for the RAM refresh, you come back later, hit a key, and boom its right back to the desktop in seconds. If the linux community doesn’t recognize how important it is to implement this, then its dead as a DESKTOP platform, and will gain no ground beyond the server room where its okay to leave computers on 24/7. On the desktop, that no longer flies. People are very noise and power concious, they don’t want to pay for or leave their computer on all the time, or wait on a long bootup or shutdown sequence and have to open up all their work where they left off, which destroys productivity in and of it self.

    So, DEFAULT SETTINGS NEED TO WORK OUT OF THE BOX , and LINUX NEEDS A SLEEP FUNCTION.

  26. First, I’d like to thank all that took their time to read and respond to my article. It was fascinating to see the number of Diggs go up and read all the arguments. I don’t mind going a bit deeper into most of them.

    (1) Some applications are not supported
    True, all true. Besides the Adobe applications that were mentioned the most there are lots more that either have no decent Linux counterparts or none at all. And if you need those applications intensively everyday migrating to Linux is not yet feasable. Virtualization might be a temporary solution.
    However, I do believe that for most office users and home users this is not the case.

    (2) Linux is not a gaming platform
    Again true, but the development of games follows the same economic principles as Windows. Hardware manufacturers want games that push the limit. Limits that are artificial. One example: Thief 3. When it hit the shores only a limited line of graphics cards were supported. Interestingly, Thief 3 runs very fine on my xBox which has mediocre hardware compared to the minimum requirements for the PC version. Apparently the higher requirements are not really necessary.
    The number of games for Linux is limited and Cedega provides a limited solution. But -again- should this stop the promotion of Linux in schools? Or leave end-users with mediocre IT-education?

    (3) Linux needs a unified desktop
    Coming from the Windows desktop I can understand that. Most users wouldn’t know what to do if the icons disappeared from their desktops. Windows end-users have been drilled into using the Windows GUI, but how many would know where to find the system tools? The majority doesn’t know and doesn’t care.
    Linux is different. The GUI is not the operating system. Hence, what you do and choose with your GUI is a choice, an expression of your personal identity. There is no need for a unified desktop when there is proper empowerment.

    (4) Linux needs to get rid of the commandline
    I hope not. That would mean that the GUI has become the operating system, limiting my choice. Last weekend I gave a workshop about installing software under Ubuntu to a group of about 20 end-users. Few of them had prior experience, half of them had commandline experience under DOS. The workshop started with Install/Remove and from there to Synaptic, apt-get and aptitude. They learned four ways to install software on Debian-based systems. And left with the confidence they could do that at home as well. The commandline is there for a reason and learning to master that empowers the end-users. It also saves a lot of “it doesn’t work anymores” when the GUI freezes.

    (5) Linux needs better hardware support
    Yep, but did anyone switch to Vista recently? I agree that there is need for improvement. The x-server is one of them, support for wifi another and there must be more. For most hardware problems there are workarounds. When I started with Linux my winmodem wouldn’t be recognized, so I bought a cheap external modem. I solved most of my x-server problems on the iMac by searching the net.
    But, when the critical mass of desktop users of Linux is big enough this issue will be moot. When we empower enough end-users to buy hardware that is Linux compatible, the market force will kick in.

    (6) Linux needs to become better first
    It will become better, but that doesn’t change much to the basic skills needed in using and troubleshooting a desktop Linux system. In fact, with an increased userbase of empowered users that also file bugreports the quality of the applications will dramatically improve.
    Plus, what functionalities are lacking in current applications to prevent a daily use now? There are gaps in applications but they don’t apply wholesale to all end-users. The Thunderbird-Exchange connector could be a problem now, but that shouldn’t prevent us from promoting the use of Thunderbird in non-Exchange organizations.

    (7) Linux is a philosophy
    Fortunately it is. Linux was build around the principles of cooperation, openness, participation and free redistribution. Call me an idealist, a dreamer, but I can not find fault with these principles.

    And a big thanks to all of you offering support. I will be in touch, soon.

  27. I think the problem with Linux, is it’s open source nature.

    Let’s say, once upon a time where was only command line interface.. so some guys decided to create a GUI for Linux (perhaps Gnome came first, I dont know) then another bunch of guys decided glassy icons would look better, so they developed KDE.. worse still, a bunch of guys developed Konquerer, yet another browser when there was already Firefox and Opera..

    The open source nature of Linux is killing Linux. Everytime a programmer decides to change some feature due to personal preference, the consumer get’s more confused.. that’s why there’s such a diversed set of programs for every single task: GUIs, package managers, media players, you name it..

  28. When I can take an actual program (not a file) and take it to any other Linux OS and install it as easily as Windows to another Windows machine count me in. I’ve played around with linux for 5 years now and while I can fix most issues the fact is I have more issues with Linux than my Windows Machine. I hate it that the Linux Community makes it seem like they are one big happy family. Distros may have the same kernel but by allowing competing package systems that aren’t compatible with each other it negates the strength. What if there is some cool tool/software/driver/ that my brother who prefers Suse but I prefer Ubuntu. Sure I could compile my own from source or convert the rpm to deb (or vice versa), but the fact is Window/Mac users have not had to deal with these kind of incompatibilities and get frustrated when they now have to learn something that wasn’t required of them using the “other” OS. Now, an “average user” has to dig deeper into their operating system than they ever did with Windows/Mac
    Open source community needs to make the little things like my above example plus other little things matter. Like the story said “niche” would be a little thing.

    It’s the little things that matter.

    Open source works when large groups see a need and have the resources to replace the lack of funds. Funny how most of the successful Linux Distros have had some kind of “Commercial” backing in order to succeed. Rare that a one man show succeeds and usually when it does leeches off another project hoping that the problems that were address bring in a large enough “educated” Linux base to continue on.

    Most of the time these one/two man shows fail but occasionally one gets lucky. Close source fails miserably when money is a concern but in a way makes up for it because profit allows the little things to survive such as niche software markets. Open source has got a lot of people believing that open source makes better software but I believe it is a draw. There are some fantastic close source software that is stable and secure just like there are some apps in the Linux world that run just fine. However, if you were to compare quality to quality you will always find a Close source program that can beat what is offered to the Open source community the problem again is money. Most people are not willing to fork over money for really high class software.

    So it comes down to a question of What kind of person are you. Are you satisfied with the o.k quality of Minivan or do you prefer a more expensive full size luxury SUV? Both do the same job but one comes with quite a bit more features. Each one has it’s advantages and disadvantages which people don’t always agree with thus are willing to pay the money.

    WindowsXP isn’t really that bad of an OS. It suffered from some Security issues but with the proper Software and Internet Etiquette training, a user will generally never have to worry about windows. Supposedly, Microsoft solved the OS Security issue with Vista and while no OS is perfect Vista should function even better than XP once the growing pains are worked out (All new OSes have growing pains – even newer releases of Linux distros).

    People are creatures of habit. In order to break people of their habits you have to offer them something that is not offered elsewhere that will improve their lives. Linux is starting to offer stuff like 3D desktops/effects that are both useful and interesting/entertaining. However, these programs are bound by graphic drivers that are not supported very well both technically and philosophically by the Open Source community thus not everyone will be able to take advantage of the new and different offered by the open source community.

    One last thing, Open Source Community needs to stop pointing fingers at everybodies flaws and worry about their own. One issue I have is the pointing of ATI for their lack of support. O.K., I agree, it needs to be better but on another unrelated note what about the Open Source Lack of supporting 64bit OS plus Apps. Long has AMD had 64bit available for any people who would take advantage of it. Linux community shrugged it off almost as a novelty yet here we are playing catch up. 64 bit support isn’t any better than Vista’s but could have been had they thrown down their support years ago. Heck, even the Open Source community themselves were slow to release 64bit versions of software matter of fact there is still quite a bit to be down in the 64bit/Multiprocessor support – on the Software Application side. Linux has had 64bit support and SMP for awhile but as a whole is still behind the power curve here with apps utilizing this power seamlessly.

    Again it boils down to caring about the little things which may seem insignificant to the Linux community but it is important and the reason why Windows will remain the leader for many years to come (Unfortunately, Apple needs to learn this lesson as well but they are even more stubborn than the Open Source community)

  29. It comes down to options. If you run linux as your primary, you still need to return to windows to do some things. Last time I looked, wine is able to run “most” windows apps. That leaves some apps that it can’t run…

    When I go to the local computer store to choose a game, shelves are filled with top-notch windows games, with few linux options.

    We aren’t talking the difference between luxury cars and econo cars here (unless you have both eyes shut). For less than a couple of hundred bucks you can have all the luxury (XP) as against the econo linux.

    For years the linux community has been blind to the needs of everyday users and has catered for the adventurous savvy users. In almost any forum thread you read, complaints by non-savvy users as to why things are hard to use are always replied to with responses such as “if you don’t like it, then contribute a code fix… or RTFM!!!”. Yeah… right, I’ll remember to tell that to my grandmother.

  30. weiks on said:

    As a winxp users, I try to migrate, but fail.. here’s the summary..which I can share with some of those already posted above…take care of me.. and I am convince a lot more people will move..

    1. Don’t show me the command box.. scary..

    2. Make installation of softare easier… like windows.. i try ubuntu.. some installation work, some telling me to open command box..then issue this and that and do this and copy this … scary..

    3. Don’t ask me to RTFM. As this consist of 99% of users over the world.

    Everytime I see the command box… scary..

    I really like the ubuntu. but I view it as testing bed to play.. not for serious work.. I guess a lot of linux programmers don’t agree as you guys put in millions of hours to work on it.. please help me to help millions of people.. as long as it is not techies thing.. it’s time for me..and the rest of the Non RTFM users which has the base bigger then windows.

    Cheers ..

  31. Trevor Turton on said:

    I don’t think that Linux will *ever* replace Windows on the classic desktop PC. By the time Linux and the market are finally ready to make this move, desktops will be gone. The big questions are, what device will replace the desktop, and what OS will this device run? I believe that mobile phones will replace the PC desktop, and that Linux has a fighting chance of running the mobile phones – if we keep focus. See my blogs http://trevors-trinkets.blogspot.com/2007/02/after-desktop-what.html and http://trevors-trinkets.blogspot.com/2007/03/mobilizing-mobiles.html

  32. Nice article.

    Having taught the ECDL qualification at basic and advanced level for 2 years in the UK, I completely agree that it is outrageous that the BCS fails to acknowledge other platforms and software through ECDL. The qualification is totally Microsoft-centric whereas it could easily be adapted to use OpenOffice and other OSes. The BCS would no doubt argue that in establishing a qualification such as ECDL, they must produce qualified users with the skills the marketplace requires to be taken seriously – and of course the majority of employers are looking for end users qualified to use MS based systems. Chicken and Egg again.

  33. Jeff Smith on said:

    “When I can take an actual program (not a file) and take it to any other Linux OS and install it as easily as Windows to another Windows machine count me in.”

    Try taking a program built for Win95 and using it on XP or Vista, or vice versa. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Often there are problems. Windows isn’t immune to such concerns.

    Its easy to install the same program on two XP machines. Its just as easy to do this in Ubuntu. Easier, in fact since you don’t have to purchase another license for the OS and for the software.

    As far as cross-distro software, the CNR project (that Click n Run for you trolls) will hopefully alleviate a lot of the hassel and confusion of installing software. It will unify the packages across multiple systems (.deb .rpm etc) and make it so that anyone (yes even your mother) can install software quickly and easily, even proprietary software. The CNR project is being developed by Linspire and Ubuntu but it will be available for pretty much all of the major distros. Oh, and its due out soon.

    The fact of the matter is, most people are just too cowardly to try something new. They’d rather stay with an unsecure, buggy (BSOD anyone?), pile of crap that they don’t even own after they’ve bought it than try to learn something.

    It took me less time to learn Linux than it did Windows, it just seemed like a pain because for the first time in years I was a noob again.

    How long did you use Windows before you were good at it? A year? two? three? You dedicated that time to it because there wasn’t really any choice. Now imagine if you took that amount of time to learn Linux. The problem is that you compare your Linux skills, (which are negilgable) to your Windows skills (where you are already a god), and you claim that it is Linux’s fault for being too hard. How long did you use Windows before you could change your wallpaper? Before you could change your icons or cursor? How many of you still use IE and Windows Media Player? Outook? How many buggy versions of IE did you mess with before you came to the conclusion that MS just can’t get it right?

    Remember IE vs Netscape? Now you’re a Firefox user. Go figure.

    How many different media players are there for Windows? Probably over a hundred. At one time I had 15 media players installed in XP. That was someone’s compaint above about Linux, that it had too many programs to do the same things. That person should use a Mac. Because personally I know of tons of apps for windows that all do the same things. Competition is the harbinger of progress. The difference is that in Linux, the developers for these programs learn from eachother.

    One company just can’t do it all and do it right.

    But Linux isn’t just one company. Its an open-ended community with an invitation to everyone.

    The only thing that I would like to see the major distros do differently is upon installation there should be a one-click solution to get into the distro specific IRC help channel. Irssi and Nirc are good, light irc clients and can be callled up easily in terminal. All thats lacking is a button on the toolbar with a big questionmark.

    Linux help is WAY more plentiful than Windows help. How many times has the Help and Support application in Windows actually fixed your problem? Anyone?

    We just need to get people to the help.

    And to the people who are angry at Linux enthusiasts for trying to build a better operating system based on the ideas of freedom and community instead of greed and um, more greed… perhaps you should take a good long look at your motivations for dislike. You can whine and complain all you wish to, but wouldn’t you like it if we were successful? Would it not be awesome if it worked as intended? Would it not be awesome to have an operating system that worked right, out of the box, had free software, played games, that wasn’t full of security holes? That wasn’t designed to snitch on you for not paying for it simply because you don’t have to pay for it? All supported by a group of helpful volunteers 24/7/365 availble to help you for free at the click of a button? If you said yes to these questions, then stop telling us we CAN’T do it, because it is people like you who are standing in the way. Saying we haven’t done it yet is acceptable. Saying we will never do it is a simple case of shortsighted stupidity.

    Most of the problems with Linux, and I’m aware there are problems, are not the fault of Linux. Most of them stem from trying to build something that is philosophicaly superior in a world that is governed by a group of people dedicated to profit. Proprietary drivers, proprietary software, strict licensing terms and a mass of people who don’t demand better. These are the things holding Linux back. It is neither the skills or dedication of Linux developers that is lacking. It is the strength and ruthlessness of the opposition that holds it back.

    They may not ever be successful. They may not ever be finished. But it is a testament to their ingenuity and dedication that they have not given up.

    We are not playing on a fair field. If Linux was treated as equal with Windows in the hardware manufacturing circles, then there would be no difficult hardware installs. Everything WOULD just work. And there would be nothing holding Linux back, other than the innate human tendancy toward mental laziness.

    To the various development teams, thank you. To the naysayers, go update your antivirus.

  34. In order to get started and gather everyone who is interested in actively participating in the Linux Proliferation Agreement and discuss the roadmap I have set up a temporary mailing list via Google Groups. Just visit the weblog page (www.opensourcelearning.info/blog) and you see the box where you can sign up.
    A more permanent infrastructure is in the making.

  35. hendrixski on said:

    I think LPA is already trademarked… it’s a business intelligence and geospatial intelligence consulting firm with clients like Kodak, Xerox, the Air Force, Pictometry, and more.

    in fact, any three letter acronym (TLA) is already trademarked.

  36. I think someone will end up profiting big time off of linux. I hope that when someone does that it doesn’t destroy open source though.

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