[NMLUG] More an email topic.

Robbins, Wesley L nmlug@swcp.com
Thu, 1 Nov 2001 16:13:28 -0700

I was talking to Alan L. this morning and we starting 
a discussion on the whole Open Source -vs- Windows 
desktop issue. I told him what I thought was one of 
the main reasons.  We then realized this would be a 
good discussion here.  So below is my reason for why 
Linux is not ready for the desktop. And why Windows
has such a control of the market. I will leave FreeBSD 
and others out due my personal lack of detailed 
information for those OS's.

This is why I personally think Linux is not a desktop standard 
for the average user.  As I wrote this the reason Linux fails 
is exactly why I love Linux. It can do anything you want. You 
just need to give it the effort.  

>From a development and retail perspective.  Linux 
as an operating system is incredibly stable. This 
is the reason organizations/Corporations can even 
suggest to use Linux as a Server you create a setup
and you never try to modify it.  In the world of 
the desktop environment, This is a total opposite. 
Linux becomes chaotic, down right impossible 
to use.  I am not talking about the applications 
installed from the CD.  I'm talking about post-install
usage and developing.  Myself and I think most users 
add several other programs after they have installed the
OS.  Under Linux for allot of the programs most of the time
each program requires a different version of a library.
SDL or libmpeg to name a couple.  When you type ./configure
or RPM to install the app I find myself installing and 
hunting down several other programs until I get to get 
amount of libraries and related files installed.  
  To get MPlayer working and have all the functionality 
I would like and expect. I spent nearly four evenings and 
ended up reinstalling Linux after I found out I messed up 
installing/upgrading to many libraries and broke several
apps that were installed standard.

  Now windows from my perspective seems to have been planned 
to handle this issue and it is used as a great unspoken benefit.  
I have a windows machine and when I press start->programs I almost
fill up the entire screen with apps and demos I've installed from 
the web.  99% of the time I do not need to upgrade and reinstall 
different dll's.

  This makes the desktop easy for a programmer to develop
on. I do not need to worry about "Do they have the GL extensions?",
"Are they running the right SDL version?", and "Do they have the 
libdvdread installed right?".  I just grab the WinDVD CD I got 
with my DVD drive and install under windows. This is not the 
exception under Linux.  As a developer and a person who teaches 
others to use Linux.  I get frustrated when users can't do it 

 So, I think more than total amount of machines in the market 
causes users and companies to choose Windows over Linux. It is 
the companies do not develop for Linux because of uncertainty 
and lack of control of required files to use there app on Linux.
I would be not want to sell an application to someone and have 
them not be able to install the product and possibly have it break
when another application is installed.  This would make overhead 
in support costs and would cause the company to loose to much 
development time that should be better used to improve and create 
new and better products.   

  Now windows is in no way a perfect solution to this problem. Linux 
or any other Free OS will give you the ability to develop, run a 
webserver, and control every aspect of the system without costing 
the person anything but his own time. 

This would limit Linux but I would love to give a person CDs. The 
person with basic knowledge of computers could install Linux and be 
able to get on the web.  <<== This has become a near reality. What 
I think now needs to happen now is a standard for application required
libraries. SDL, and /lib/* should be more controlled for a developer.
A developer would also need to be self disciplined for this.  

A type of Linux Default config certification would be a good start.  
Redhat , Suse , Mandrake should work together and build a rules set 
of what should be default installed for application dependant libs.
Now a company can be able to compile and create a install for that 
version. And any version of Linux should be able to run that app by

As why I like Linux. I love the challenge of figuring out how to make it
work. I feel great when I get it done.  I love the chaos that is Linux.
I play my computer games under Windows.  And give myself puzzles and 
solve them under Linux.  If the Linux world does what I think needs to 
happen I would not like it as much and would need to find another toy
to play with.....When I meet someone who want to learn/use Linux.  I 
step back as I did when I sold computers several years ago and spend time
learning what the person does and wants to-do then I explain what that
will need to use Linux.  I do not install apps and leave.  I carefully 
match apps and teach the person/customer how to use what they plan to do
Linux.  For a child a large quantity of Games is most important.  For the CS

student the connection the UNM and the GCC files are most important.

Generally,  I unfortunately need to steer people away from Linux. They are
work force and general users.  Who will not complain to the person who sends
word document to them. But rather complain Linux does not read that file.  I
know I can read that file. But the average use does not want to work on it. 
I love what Linux is. And would still enjoy Linux if it was controlled more.
But if business wants to make money in the Desktop/average user world. They 
will need to control and make applications more simple to install.    

Flame Away ;), 



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