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As you can see, Linux is gradually growing in 'buzz', this, of course, does not translate directly into user growth but it us a indicator of how much Linux is on the conscience of the users of the web.
Five years ago *nix was in the realm of the (excuse the phrase) "ultra geeks". Today, webmasters and SEOs commonly chose linux as their operating system of choice. What will it be five years from now? I think it is wide open.
I don't see the numbers atrophying, there is no way Linux is going to lose ground, IMO the question is, "how fast will it gain popularity?"
Littleman's Nostradamus like prediction of the evolution of open source usage:
Stage I ->Hardcore programmer
Stage II ->CS majors, adventurous Webmasters, the curious
Stage III ->Academia, wannabe hippies types, government, many web professionals
Stage IV -> A full on horse race between Open Source and Closed Source software for market percentage
Stage V -> Closed Source lost 90% of the mass market software space
Right now, we are in between stage two and stage three.
My prediction is that we will be at stage V by 2017, if you step back, you could see it in motion now.
'Course, you have to get business desktops first, to head off the folks who make big noises in schoolboard meetings about not wanting Macs in the schools because their kids will need to know Windoze at work. I think it's a foolishly short-sighted position, since it implies that we're not going to teach people to engage their brains enough to get around having an apple menu at the top of the screen instead of a start menu at the bottom, but it's one that gets made. I don't feel injured by the fact that my HS used ClarisWorks on System 7 for most things. Served me well even though I haven't much used Macs since I graduated HS.
I think it's stuff like this that will cause some to switch to open source on the desktop:
Overall, I think there will be a whole lot of everything in the future rather than either/or. Just in the last year, we've seen entire countries openly considering open source; at least having real efforts to evaluate and use it. China is a big one here.
Mostly, it's the kind of stuff in the article above that irks me. There is enough to do in business without having to keep one's eye on a vendor who wants to rewrite the license agreement after the sale via the EULA for a security patch.
Who has a legal department or budget to fight Microsoft?
Who wants to worry *what* they will do to your machine, it's configuration settings or *your* data or your ability to get to *your* data without your knowledge and with no prior warning. No wonder many foreign countries want to go with open source instead. Who wants back doors in their OS?
What does one do? Accept the EULA or remain vulnerable...or switch to *nix? What a bushwacking for some company to decide on a Windows platform, incur the cost, then find out they can't continue using it -- and must incur the cost to switch and retrain everyone. This is very, very bad.
I don't mind paying for software I use; all my software is legal. However, I do mind being jerked around by some company who wants to "monetize" me and my consumer behavior or otherwise stick their nose farther into my life and PC than I agreed to when I originally bought a license to use their software.
Being able to totally eliminate worries such that you must subject yourself to a software audit (i.e. shakedown fishing expedition for more revenue to support the company stock price) that disrupts normal business and incurrs compliance cost is a BIG plus of open source to me. I don't pirate software. And I would not want to spend time and money to prove it just because some company wants to go on a fishing expedition for more license revenue. The oporunity cost due to business disruption -- and the fact you can't predict when they might make you do a license audit is a big negative.
Before current open source offerings like Open Office, there were too many document compatibility problems...now from what I hear there are a few, but pretty much at a level that's acceptable for most.
I've been amazed at the improvement in *nix software for the desktop over the three years I've been watching. Not only the quality and availability of desktop software, but other software too -- like the database PostgreSQL.
One has to wonder how much progress will take place over, say the next five years. Lots more maturity and polish I would guess.
Basically, it's not paying for software that bothers me. It's having to worry about and deal with getting jerked around by some company wanting to control me, my PC, and "monetize" me by selling info about me to their "business partners" that bother me. Basically, any company that would put into their license and useage agreements the things I've read from MS is not one who I would ever trust or feel at ease doing business with.
I'm not a Microsoft basher. However, their behavior has definitely turned me off. I'll use their stuff when I need to or have to. But deploy in any business of mine when I have a choice of FreeBSD or another *nix like Linux? No. Too many downsides and risk -- not even considering the extra cost of their software licenses.
Sadly, I don't think Microsoft's behavior is going to change. I think it is only going to get worse -- and that they will bully their customers as much as they can for the financial gain they think they might get and must have to support their stock price. Best to work on changing OS platforms now, IMO.
Personal or non mission critical use of MS software is OK. But anything that's mission critical or must be secure from IP theft? Then the nod goes to *nix. And don't forget, in addition to Linux, there is also FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD.
Why Linux will conquer the world - Expanded AntiFUD [groups.google.com]
Obviously it is an argumentative piece, but well done IMO.
Why I think it isn't so.
1. Absolute confusion regarding distros. What version? Why? When?
2. Language. If you use geek speak to talk about the product, you'll attract geeks. The jargon is important. Without a strong governing body to market the product to the every day user, conflicting and confusing terms are used. Sheep like for the grass to be uniform.
3. Marketing. Absolutely pathetic to date and there's no incentive to develop a better marketing strategy.
4. Poor products. Yep. There are some duds. Phat Linux 4.0 is a complete dud. The sad part is, they are marketing that product to Windows users, with the veiled promise that Linux is simpler and easier to use. After the crash and crash experience I had, and I use Linux, I had to tell several Windows using friends to steer clear of Phat Linux.
5. It's not click and drool technology. The *nix OS assumes some level of technical familiarity. Windows and Mac both assume that the user is a first time computer user. Until *nix assumes the same, the OS appeals only to geeks.
6. Ease of set-up. I can snap cards in and out of a Winbox in minutes, set-up is painless and requires no effort on my part other than clicking "next" and "finished". Sometimes I have to take the extra ominous step and insert CD XP even added the "let a friend fudge up your computer" with remote access, with Linux, I get to scour forums if I have a problem.
7. Bad business model. Absolutely no incentive to sit down with a group of marketers and developers and hash out the latest and greatest Linux version. Unless of course, no open source is used and they own the end product...
I searched google for 'linux desktop' and got 2,370,000 hits.
We must be in Stage IV already.
My impression had been that a lot of unix folks have been dabbling with the linux variant of unix and that whatever wins linux has gotten were at the expense of the other unix variants. Both IBM and SUN pushing the Linux variant over their older unix variants (AIX and Solaris) is significant in the server market.
The move to the desktop would directly impact Windows. So the google search splitting 40% linux to 60% windows was unbelievable.
For completness I also searched 'windows linux desktop' and got 1,740,000 hits. You'd really have to be an public accountant working for Enron to fully understand all the implications.
And digitalghost, how could you ever take anything called Phat Linux seriously... I think the name alone would force me to think they're not taking a stab at being a commercial success. Now, if you used an example such as Mandrake or Red Hat (which would be modestly well known) I'd take the argument seriously :). The "product" is Linux. Individual releases by different companies are more akin to flavors, which isn't that easily comperable to commercial OS's.
Many attempts have been made to sell PC's with an Open Source desktop to consumers, all have failed miserably.
How many commercial software vendors make linux versions of - Games, Office Applications(Word Processors, Spreadsheets etc.), Graphics Applications etc.? Yes there are many Open Source applications that can do the same thing, and are free. The problem is that the masses of people are unaware of this, and most want to be sold with advertising.
The common perception of you get what you pay for hinders the Open Source market from gaining any real ground.
> Many attempts ...all have failed miserably.
Let's see how WallMart does.
Also, this might blind-side the States and Europe, many, many, institutions in the developing world and much of Asia are electing to use Linux to save money and gain freedom of use.
Open Source's weakest area
> Office Applications
No need, the open source applications are very high quality
> The common perception of you get what you pay for hinders the Open Source market from gaining any real ground.
It is gaining in commercial applications all the time. As companies realize the savings and and benefits of open source development. The desktop will be right around the corner once there is sufficient buzz.
There are several reasons.
Lack of hardware support. The hardware manufacturer supplies drivers to MS, but rarely to Linux. Some manufacturers are open about specifications and allow open source drivers to be made, others are sitting on the hardwares specs, so no open source driver can be made. As reverse engineering is becoming ever more criminalised, it is becoming harder to get drivers for common hardware. There'll be no taking over the desktop before the driver issues are solved. Basically, producers have to deliver linux drivers as they deliver MS drivers.
There are still issues of windows only hardware, mostly modems, but also printers and other peripherals.
Lack of applications. In a workplace StarOffice/OpenOffice will definitely make a difference, but the home users will often perceive the lack of applications as a complete turn-off. Those I know have all sorts of applications installed, shareware or pirated, and linux cannot compete with that amount of GUI-based applications.
Lack of games. The company Loki made linux games, and good ones too, but they didn't sell. Loki closed. Most linux users still have a windows partition to play games, even if they do all their work on linux.
The road is still long and arduous. Unfortunately.
I have a Redhat box. The reason I wanted to try PhatLinux is because the offering was intended to make it easy for Win users to try Linux. As for names, are you seriously trying to tell me that Red Hat or Mandrake are better or a more "serious" attempt at commercial success?
One of the issues I mentioned was all the distros. It's still an issue. My argument stands, even if you remove PhatLinux from the mix.
That's part of the problem. People searching for Linux aren't finding Knoppix and if they search for something like "linux for windows users" the results don't get much better.
There is no single, cohesive marketing plan for Linux. If you get 5 linux users in the same room, odds are that not one of them use the same version and an argument will quickly ensue as to which version is the best. :)
The most often used argument is that Linux is "better". Better for what? Not that it matters, Beta was better than VHS...
It's not yet certain that Open Source will prevail. One key reason (which has been mentioned) is patent attacks by Microsoft. The anti-trust judgement has enabled Microsoft to shield key e-commerce & security APIs from public disclosure. So the success of the Liberty initiative may be important.
Another interesting aspect will be what happens to companies like Apple and Sun. Will commodity hardware rule? Apple has what's by far the best 'nix user interface and Sun has Java technology. Will they get caught in the middle between Open Source and Microsoft? Both of them have potential transition paths wherein they might be key players in an Open Source world, but it is not clear what would be effective business models.
Have you seen [osafoundation.org...] Mitch Kapor started this with a $5 million contribution and developers are currently at work on a free, cross-platform personal information manager. It looks to me like an Outlook replacement.
If things like this begin to cut into Microsoft's revenues we might see a "negative spiral" that's the opposite of the increasing growth model I described above.
Linux rule the desktop? I'll repeat: not a prayer, unless some large corporation takes it and pushes it hard, but then it won't be open-source in the pure sense of the word.
Do I like Linux? I love linux, just don't see it as a viable alternative to Windows for the desktop.
>> Public Schools K-12
>Actually, they mostly use Macs
Check out the statistics for 2001 for US Public schools. [nces.ed.gov...] You will find that Mac's only have 29% of the market in schools.
>> The common perception of you get what you pay for hinders the Open Source market from gaining any real ground.
>It is gaining in commercial applications all the time. As companies realize the savings and and benefits of open source development. The desktop will be right around the corner once there is sufficient buzz.
Companies can realize the savings and benefits of open source development all they like, but the bottom line is where is the market share? Until the market share starts to make a shift from windows to Open Source, hardware and software companies are not going to pay much attention.
I am using Linux since early 1995 for several purposes: Of course as a webserver, but also as a development machine for Java software and some database applications. (To be honest: For about half a year I replaced Linux by FreeBSD.)
In the last years I've tried several times to replace Windows on my desktop machine by Linux. But there was always some severe trouble: Linux didn't like my video card. I wasn't able to install OpenOffice. Trying to run Evolution lead to an avalanche of dependency errors; my beloved .DLL hell was heaven compared to it. And so on. I wasn't able to cope with these errors. So, how should a typical windows guy?
On the other hand, Windows runs most of the time out-of-the-box. Of course, an out-of-the-box Windows is unsecure. Of course, it tends to get corrupted if you don't know how to handle it correctly. But for the typical windows guy it's way better to have an unsecure but running Windows compared to a secure-like-hell Linux, that won't boot.
My conclusion is that Linux (or, even better, FreeBSD) is great for every one who knows a little bit of the internals of his machine. For the typical _user_ that just wants to start his PC and do his work, Linux is still to complicated. But I really hope for Linux getting good enough even for the desktop right in time before I have to switch to that ugly XP stuff with its registration ...
Something I'm hesitant to do as both of those subjects are taboo here but...
Political movements that aren't organized fail. Same thing with religious movements. It is only when someone steps up and organizes a system or ideology that the ball gets rolling. I can't think of a single instance in the history of politics or religion where disorganization played a roll in the success of a political group or aided in the formulation of a religious doctrine. It is only through order that success is achieved.
I'm not saying that in order for Linux to be a success that there need only be one version, but in order for Linux to dominate, there needs to be a version that is clearly superior, not just to other Linux versions, but Windows as well and that particular version of Linux needs the support of a solid marketing plan backed up by some cash flow.
I think Linux needs to work on "user friendly" first. It isn't, in any version I've tried. Set-up takes time, there are usually conflicts and people that are used to installing Windows really don't want the hassle of solving those conflicts. They want to slap in the CD and click "next".
One thing that I think needs to be separated is ability and market share. As far as capability goes open source has already arrived. We have the office utilities, the browser, the media devices, the desktop functionality. There are literally thousands of high quality applications available for the download.
Open Source also has a very solid building blocks (php, perl, apache. MySQL, gcc, and hundreds of other development tools) freely available. This is why it has taken off in the commercial applications.
This is WebmasterWorld, so I'll just point out what is happening in our neck of the woods:
Google -> Linux
AllTheWeb -> BSD
Inktomi -> switching to Linux
Corporations are not that much smarter than the average consumer, they know that that getting equal or superior quality for less is a good thing.
The only piece missing is distribution. Walmart is leading the way there, and I know others will follow. When you consider the fenomenon of a pre-installed open source OS selling for $100-$250 less than their proprietary equivalent and that all the end user has to do is push the on button you have the beginnings of a bloodless revolution.
>Political movements that aren't organized fail. Same thing with religious movements. It is only when someone steps up and organizes a system or ideology that the ball gets rolling.
I think it is a mistake to infer that centralized control is essential to having organization, and that that form of organization is essential to progress. What of biological evolution? It's a form of massively parallel, redundant, adaptive processing.
The voluntary nature of participation in Open Source development assures a high level of emotional involvement, participation and commitment from the community. It's not just a job. It's probably true that some things that most people don't want to do, like write manuals or develop courseware, don't automatically get done. But the pattern is that companies like SuSE and Red Hat step in to fill these roles.
That is interesting. Are you saying that Google, AllTheWeb and Inktomi have switched/are switching from a Windows desktop to a Linux desktop? How many desktops are involved?
Maybe we should define desktop. Desktop to me means a workstation.
To me, "desktop" is what my mother, father, siblings, boss, and wife use. It sits on their desk and gives them access to a word processor, a few games, and probably e-mail, the web, and some form of instant messaging system. Maybe there's a spreadsheet and something like Quicken, and possibly some sort of specialized professional tools as well. Windows and Mac OS are the only currently common operating systems for such systems. Every exception I know of I had some hand in creating.
When I hear "workstation" I expect a somewhat more powerful machine, probably being used by a programmer/webmaster/graphic designer/egineer type. This deffinitely has some professional software on it. It may be running some "server" type software (Of course I have Apache on my development workstation, it's part of my server-side deveopment environment.), but is distinguished in my mind from a server by the fact that it probably has a high-quility video card and monitor and is primarily used by a person who is using its directly physically attached keyboard, mouse, and monitor(s). It might even get turned off at night. Windows and Mac OS still play here, but so do Irix, Tru64, Linux, *BSD, etc.
Servers, on the other hand, are primarily used by people whose keyboard, mouse, and monitor are not physically attached to the machine. They may not even *have* such hardware. You don't shut them off at night. Everything I've mentioned plays here.
So, it's very important, both offensively and defensively, for Open Source to develop significant market share in the desktop market. A lot of progress has been made in this area during the last few years both in terms of product functionality and mindshare. I'm waiting to see major PC manufacturers who, as prices drop and they look for ways to reduce costs, start shipping boxes with OpenSource software installed. That will be a milestone.