More Reasons Why Linux Will Never Take Over the Desktop

by Preston Gralla

My last blog entry, Why Linux Will Never Take Over the Desktop, got a lot of pushback from Linux folks. Now I'm back with more reasons why Linux will never overtake Windows.

28 Comments

dotMatt
2007-04-25 10:04:51
I'm not sure I understand the comparison between Linux and Windows. People don't buy Linux - they buy (or download), e.g., Redhat, Suse, Mandriva, Ubuntu, etc. The also buy (or download) Windows XP/Vista, OSX, Syllable, Haiku, PocketPC/WinCE, Palm, etc etc.


I would venture that my mother, a techgnostic, if faced with Redhat, Suse, Mandriva, Ubuntu, and Windows XP in boxes on a shelf in Walmart, would not realize that the first 4 had anything in common at all. Rather, she would be looking at 5 distinct products to choose from. She would likely pick Windows, from brand-name recognition, but her decision would not be based on "hey, there are 4 Linuxes and only 1 Windows -- that's too many Linux choices."


And of course, Redhat, Suse Mandriva, and Ubuntu *ARE* 4 distinct products. The fact that *some* software can run on all 4 products is a great thing, but the fact that some software only runs on a subset of these four products would be no surprise to most consumers. Consumers are already exposed to the fact that software ships with limited platform support, e.g., Windows xor OSX (or Redhat, or ...).


My point - consumers should never even hear the word "distribution", and should never use "Linux". They should compare each product (Windows, Redhat, OSX, Suse, etc) independently.

Mark Murphy
2007-04-25 10:41:40
One big reason Linux will never outdo Windows is that when it comes to Linux, there's simply too many distributions to choose from.


Bear in mind that there are something like 11 "distributions" of Windows — ~8 Vista "distros" (Home Basic, Home Premium, etc.), 2 XP "distros", and the occasional Windows 2000. Applications for one may or may not run on the other, particularly with Vista.


An ordinary consumer has no clue which distrubution to use


Like an ordinary consumer has no clue which distribution of Vista to use? I mean, c'mon, it takes one heck of a feature grid just to make sense of what one can and can't do with any given distribution of Vista.


Too much choice, in fact, is a bad thing.


I won't quibble with this; it's one of the reasons I was shocked (shocked!) when Microsoft went the way it did with Vista. However, also bear in mind that many people don't buy Windows and won't buy Linux — they buy a Dell and will use whatever the heck the Dell comes with. I work with ordinary citizens a fair bit, and when I ask them what version of Windows they run, most give me a blank stare, as opposed to "Windows 98" or "Windows ME" or any of the other distributions of Windows. People only pay attention to niggling things like this when it interrupts what they're trying to do.


The lack of a retail and online retail infrastructure for Linux and Linux applications hurts as well.


True, though this may get resolved sometime before "never", as will your marketing dollars issue. The use of "never", as much as anything else, is why you get these comments — last I checked, it's not for you to decide the fate of Linux, which means "never" isn't a pronouncement you can make. "Unlikely", "hard row to hoe", and kin would be more apropos predictions.


davesisley
2007-04-25 10:51:09
I'm confused by your concern for Linux's lack of retail presence. I've never had to BUY an application for linux. As others have pointed out, a lot of very useful applications are provided for free by the major distros. Anything I needed later that wasn't included in my installation has been available for free online.


Why on earth would I go to a STORE for those applications?

JohnnieCat
2007-04-25 14:25:26


I run Linux from time to time from a LiveCD or in VMPlayer because, guess what? Windows does what I want already. Bear in mind that much of the freeware included in your distro is also available for the PC. Audacity and OpenOffice are two I use frequently (somebody PLEASE point me to a distro with Java).

Steve D.
2007-04-25 23:10:51
Let's face it, you just don't know anything about Linux. Besides who stated Linux would take over?
john the firsherman
2007-04-26 01:12:44
(bad english)


I fully agree with you. For me the most anoying think is that distribution developers take care about thousands of software packages making them available for their distro. I wonder why software developers do not provide installers which works on every distro. For examply why Gnome team does not provide ready to run installation packages for their desktop software. Linux distribution should contain only realy important applications, just nothing more than a kernel, console programs and the software for managing packages (like ms installer).


best regards

Richard
2007-04-26 02:55:45
Vista will introduce many people to a really lousy computing experience. It will do more to expand Linux on the Desktop than any other single thing.


Here is the scenario:


Okay, You just bought this expensive new computer with Vista. You hate Vista. What can You do? Buy another new, more expensive computer with Mac OS X? Nah! Download and install a Linux Distribution for free? Yeah, seems like a way to go.

pr
2007-04-26 05:59:21
I quite agree... take a look here


http://kde-files.org/CONTENT/content-files/44218-linuxdistrotimeline-7.2.png

Joe
2007-04-26 08:46:39
I use Kanotix 2.6.14. I would never switch back to Windows, simply because I don't understand how an OS with billions of dollars of research behind it requires a new patch every other day, a new security fix every other day as well has having a bloated kernel (about 300mb for XP). Its been programmed by monkeys, sorry if that offends anyone. Also its the biggest viral author target (there aren't even half the amount of virals for Linux that there are for Windows (for Linux there's about 8000 in total, where Windows runs into the 100s of thousands including exploits and worms). Its poorly built, unstable at best, and the security is rubbish. Why Microsoft haven't fired some decent coders by now is beyond me. Look at OpenBSD. It's PF firewall hasn't been breached yet (except once 8 years ago). And you only need to type one line to set up the most hardened stateful firewall on the planet.


People think Vista is pretty, take a look at XGL from Novell. THATS a pathway for Linux to take over the desktop. Vista sits there chewing up resource at a phenomenal rate, it needs something like 256mb just to boot! Where as XGL's offering, which is far prettier, only needs OpenGL to be installed (a default with most modern NVidia cards), and about 12mb RAM to run at warp speed.


Windows will die because hackers will kill it, Linux WILL outperform it, and BSD will outsecure it.

Giovanni Bassi
2007-04-26 09:52:59
People often forget: developers need money, like everybody else. And so do the companies they work for.
This is why you see a lot of Windows related software on every shop, and also a lot of advertising.
I have never ever seen an ad for Firefox, and you know why? Because there is no profit involved. Is any of you putting your money on an ad for Firefox?


The funniest thing it to watch all these capitalists and meritocracists raging for free stuff...
Grow up! Please. Really.

Giovanni Bassi
2007-04-26 09:53:42
People often forget: developers need money, like everybody else. And so do the companies they work for.
This is why you see a lot of Windows related software on every shop, and also a lot of advertising.
I have never ever seen an ad for Firefox, and you know why? Because there is no profit involved. Is any of you putting your money on an ad for Firefox?


The funniest thing it to watch all these capitalists and meritocracists raging for free stuff...
Grow up! Please. Really.

AngryPoster
2007-04-26 11:47:02
Yeah there have never been any ads for firefox (http://www.spreadfirefox.com/node/8769)
aaron
2007-04-26 23:03:36
People get confused with too many choices? Hmmm, the car market with 100s of choices seems to be doing just fine.
pinpong
2007-04-27 07:26:58
I am busy full time migrating businesses to Linux - Most people are really sick of Microsoft but don't know how to change

2007-04-27 07:37:14
"It just means that it will remain a niche player, except on servers."


But then that contradicts everything you said of why Linux won't take over the desktop market.


"Too much choice..."


There are really only three choices someone would choose from: Ubuntu, openSUSE, and Fedora (actually everyone chooses Ubuntu, so it's really not that tough).


I think it's good to explore the reasons of why Linux is not widely used instead of flame bait on why Linux will "never" be adopted by the masses. I wonder if you wrote a similar article on "Why Linux Will Never Take Over the Server?"

pxx
2007-04-29 21:37:44
The man NEVER will walk in the moon.


Guest
2007-04-30 08:38:33
Microsoft just came out with 4 different distributions of Vista.. anyone reading up on Vista will know not to install Vista Basic, if they want to be stuck with just playing solitaire.
You have quite a few choices there... MOST people would compare the differences before buying!
If Linux was the big OS of our time, we'd make just as many comparisons and choose the one right for us.


Of course, you're assuming everyone lives in a bubble... even my Mother would ask for outside help in choosing a program she was interested in... being informed, before buying.


The very fact that people don't know, makes them want to know.


How narrow minded can you get?

Andrew Odewahn
2007-05-01 08:11:40
Maybe not just servers:


http://www.tivo.com/linux/linux.asp


2007-05-01 11:21:00
I also find myself frustrated with the numerous mis-written, ill-supported open source projects. Many projects do not attain the standards set by projects like for e.g. Apache Web server. On the other hand products created by companies have their own negatives. I think we need is an model that is a mix of the two. For that some of the fundamental differences will need to be bridged viz.
hobbyist vs financial
non-contractual vs contractual
self/interest driven vs corporate driven
project vs product
open vs closed


Here is another blog that talks of monoculture (vs plurality)
http://www.oreillynet.com/onlamp/blog/2007/04/the_virtues_of_monoculture.html

Noemaru
2007-05-01 16:02:11
Then be a member and show the world which one you prefer. Just because you sow this or that operating system doesn't mean anything. The best thing is that it is Free. I just saw Ubuntu on Youtube for the first time, and I'm amazed. This is the future that was in peoples dreams for a long time. To say that Linux will never take over is just a foolish thought. Look at the Mac, if it wasn't for those innovators then we would still be looking at black screens with green letters.
I'm not a computer guru but a simple designer, the design end from the past to future seems phenomenal. Operating systems are hard to use, but at least let the world know which one you think is the easiest. Every one cant buy a Mac, so they have to settle for the crappy Windows for 300 bucks which will last them one or two months, given the fact that they still have to buy an anti-virus software and not download their favorite music.
plumpNation
2007-05-02 08:07:21
In any market, if a concept is openly shared and to all extents and purposes, free, then initially there will be many trying to make it viable as a profit maker. I believe that as a race like this continues, one (or two) will always start to nose (or sprint)forward, culminating usually in a marketing war that destroys one and seals a successful future for the other. PLUS, with names like DELL starting to distribute Ubuntu as an option on their machines, we can pretty much assume that it will probably win that race.
I don't think the Linux consumer fear will exist for much longer, and a good thing too.


I am a Windows user, and am happy with it for what I do.

Nick
2007-05-02 18:22:40
Just to drop in an opposing view...


The reason Linux has a good shot at the desktop is license keys. As the big companies make licensing more obtrusive and tighter, the pain on learning linux becomes less and less. I am the administrator at a small company. It took me most of a MONTH in my 'spare time' to line up all the moving parts for the "new and improved" registration for Acrobat. And when is the last time you tried to feed the ORIGINAL Quark floppy into a G5 because you just installed a new machine? Or which is the correct CD of Office to use to reinstall it on the Laptop that just fried the hard drive (BTW.. reading the keys tells you what Dell used, not which CD you need)....


I've dropped at least one Linux/Firefox/OpenOffice box on a desktop just because it's quicker in the long run... and pretty much in the short run even... Some user training.. and they can't install their favorite games or itunes... (hmmm... another good reason).


Just for what it's worth...

Phil
2007-05-03 03:28:53
If I understand ecomomics correctly, competition improves products. The price certainly attracts me as I am on limited/fixed income. Since I gave up on Microsoft in 1999, I haven't regretted it except for the web sites that use only the "latest and greatest (i.e. "broken") Microsoft apps for streaming audio or video, but after a while, GNU/Linux developers end up reverse engineering it so it works.


Plus, I don't have to buy a bunch of programs to do things because the software comes with the distribution!


I have converted a few people and just got someone to bring over a computer that he had replaced with a new one to install Linux on, so he can run Microsoft (whatever flavor) and either Ubuntu or Fedora core 6. I haven't run Ubuntu as of yet, so I will probably go with Fedora core 6 for him.


The only problem with GNU/Linux that I can see is that you need a high speed connection for the updates until you learn that it works best if the computer isn't turned off and you let it download stuff overnight if you are on dialup.

John C Frain
2007-05-03 03:54:49
Most of my work is done in Windows XP. I use quantian (needs updating) or knoppix if I want to do some work in Linux. There are 3 PCs in the house (2 DELL and one HP Laptop) and I have tried to install various Linux distributions on these. The sole problem is that none of the distributions recognise the wireless cards in any of the PCs. I would regard myself as fairly knowledgable with PCs. For example I have used a large number of statistical/mathematical packages and have used Fortran PL/1 C++ and a variety of other programs over the years. The instructions (obtained using XP) on the Intel site on configuring my laptop for wirelss internet access are not easy.


I would presume that the vast majority of PCs that have been sold do not have wireless internet access. They are plug and play on XP. I would think that the majority of PCs can not use wireless internet access with many Linux distributions.


The advise given in many books on Linux to install Linux and then download drivers etc to enable access to the internet is impossible unless one is already using another operating system. Even then the other operating system may do terrible things like renaming archives etc. I know that there are problems with propietary drivers etc but unless the basic problem of wireless access tom the internet is solved Linux will never be a first choice with inexperienced users

darren
2007-05-03 07:59:37
So, lets start an Open Source Marketing project to promote Linux.
Giovanni Bassi
2007-05-04 16:10:44
Yes, I'd like to see that. You all start a marketing project to promote Linux, or some other free software. And also put in some money. Then let me know, because it is going to be really interesting.


And regarding the Ad for Firefox... that is just sad. ONE ad is nothing to compete with Microsoft, Google, and the other players. When was the last time you opened ANY serious IT magazine, professional or not? Because what you see, in every issue, are large marketing campaigns, funded by medium and large corporations, made of several ads, which are helped by radio, TV, and many other types of media. The average layperson does not even know what GNU or Linux is. And this is just one of the reasons.
Again: grow up.

waxfetish
2007-05-15 03:00:48
you sound like an un-educated dumb ass. If Linux never takes over desk tops, it will be because people like you that have no concept of reality are the major consumers....so feel at home.
reality
2008-03-27 09:02:45
Linux is still light years behind windows. The number one reason is the command prompt. I don't want to search for user manuals and forum discussions to figure out how to install a firewall or an application. type this and that into some command prompt. I should be able to click on what I want and excecute it. Until Linux COMPLETELY removes all command prompts it will never be "mainstream".


Have any of you seen old people use compters? They spend minutes searching for a single key on a keyboard! And have trouble remembering where the start menu is. Wake up all you geeks...it has to be so easy that a retarted monkey could figure it out.