What will drive mainstream desktop Linux? | Opensource.com

What will drive mainstream desktop Linux?

Posted 03 Feb 2014 by 

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You know how on TV, NFL analysts will pit one football team against another and say what areas they need to execute well in order to win the game? Here is my take on the most popular desktop Linux distros: Ubuntu, Linux Mint and Chrome OS. Let's not mince words here: Windows is still the undisputed king of the desktop with OS X a distant second. In the meantime, Linux does not even show up on the radar, especially where it counts: in retail outlets and the average consumer's mind.

There are a couple significant reasons why Linux is a distant third, which I've covered elsewhere. However, one important area that needs to be addressed, which I haven't covered before, is product development. I'm going to pretend that I am a NFL analyst assessing each Linux distro's product and explaining what each distro needs to improve on to be appealing enough for the average consumer. Now when I go through this analysis, I need to assess each distro as if I am buying a branded PC with that distro. Why? Because that's how most consumers expect to purchase a PC. The difficult part with a lot of the Linux distros is that there is not that "appliance" that "works out of the box" perception that consumers get when they use it. After all, many people are used to using Windows PCs, Macs, and tablets that just work, including apps that came with each device. They expect that same kind of reliability when they use any PC. So let's start the analysis with the latest device that comes very close to that, which is the Chromebook.

Chromebook

Pros

After doing some research on Chromebook owner's perceptions with their device, it appears that they are very satisfied with its fast performance and the ability to do basic PC tasks such as working with documents, reading, watching movies, social networking, using email functions, doing their finances and shopping on-line.

Cons

The biggest gap between using a Chromebook and a PC is that the processes of video editing and image editing are cumbersome for the average consumer.

Remedy

We know that these Chromebooks were not designed to be a "production" PC due to its limited 16GB storage capacity. However, with some of the OEMs creating different models of the Chromebook, including the Chromebook Pixel for heavier processing, I think that one of the OEMs should at least include reliable and intuitive video editor and image editor tools as native applications on the Chromebook. I understand that Pixlr is one app from the Chrome Web Store that can do image editing pretty well but when you are dealing with images over the internet, the latency is still not comparable to working on images locally on a PC.

Ubuntu PC

Pros

In my own experience, Ubuntu has done a good job serving as my "Production" PC from November 2011 until now. I can do all computing tasks that I executed daily on a Windows PC. I've used LibreOffice and Evolution, which replaced tasks I used MS Office and Outlook for. I've been able to create and revise images using Inkscape and Gimp. I've also been able to create and revise videos using Desktop Recorder and Openshot Video Editor. As for development, I have been able to use IDE tools such as Mono and Eclipse pretty well to modify, test, and troubleshoot code. I've even gotten printing to work with a Brother MFC 210C printer that I acquired in 2009.

Cons

The only major drawbacks I've encountered were with webcam software. Cheese is the most common webcam software used with Linux PCs. After applying software upgrades, the Cheese application is not as reliable. In fact, I cannot get the video capture process to work properly even now.

Remedy

Ubuntu needs to make sure basic computing tasks that users come to rely on are working well even with software upgrades or updates. I realize that it's not possible to satisfy every piece of hardware or make every free Linux program work well for every user but what you can do is work with OEMs to ensure that basic computing tasks are optimized for their hardware if they sell Ubuntu pre-installed on their hardware. For example, Cheese is not in anyway affiliated with Ubuntu, but if that's what comes with pre-installed Ubuntu laptops, at least make sure it works well and reliably. Or get OEMs to install their own webcam, video editing or image editing software that works well on Ubuntu.

Linux Mint

Pros

I've been using Linux Mint since March 2013 and I really like this desktop. One tech writer did an informal survey of his family and friends, comparing Ubuntu vs Linux Mint for new Linux users. What he found out was that non-tech savvy new Linux users preferred Ubuntu and that tech savvy new Linux users preferred Linux Mint. I consider myself a tech savvy user so it's not a surprise that I spend more time using my Linux Mint partition over Ubuntu in a dual boot situation on my Toshiba Satellite. What do I like about it? It's clean, elegant and uncluttered. Its user interface reminds me a lot of Windows 7 but much simpler. I can find the programs I need pretty easily. I can also do everything that I could do with Ubuntu as a "production" PC. I actually decided to try Mint when I saw an article by a tech writer extolling its virtues and I'm glad I did.

Cons

Mint suffers from the same issues that Ubuntu does because they use the same supplier of Linux applications. Mint is a derivative of Ubuntu so it's not a surprise that this is the case. After applying software upgrades, the Cheese webcam software I was using stopped working reliably when capturing a video. There is a latency when recording or it crashes.

Remedy

There are quite a few OEMs which supply Linux Mint pre-installed. Since there is no coordination between independent developers of free Linux apps, the Linux Mint developers and the OEMs, I think OEMs need to install their own webcam software that is optimized for their hardware on Linux Mint. They should also consider using this same approach for video editors and image editors as well.

So, there you have it. If all three Linux distros want to sell more PCs with their OS, they need to aspire to creating an "appliance" that works well out of the box so that when tech reviewers "unbox" their product on YouTube, they get the optimal "out of the box" experience to share with the world.

Originally posted on My Linux Adventure. Reposted under Creative Commons.

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101 Comments

Jamie Duncan

The BYOD idea has allowed mac into the enterprise. But until large corporate security groups figure out how to handle a Linux laptop joining their domain, Linux as a desktop won't get any true traction. People are still heavily influenced by what they use and can use at their jobs.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

I do not profess to be an expert on infrastructure and networking. However, I think the Limux project sounds like a good role model to follow and learn from. Also, Canonical offers a product called "Landscape" which manages Ubuntu and non-Ubuntu desktops remotely. How about finding out how Google manages thousands of Gentoo-Linux desktops with Windows PC's?

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Kit Dix-Pincott

I think Google actually use a customised version of Ubuntu named Goobuntu, and the installation base is managed using Puppet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goobuntu

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Thanks for the info, Kit! I've heard of Puppet as well:)

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HidekiAI
Newbie

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm looking at the ChromeOS repo and this really smells like Gentoo:
https://chromium.googlesource.com/chromiumos/overlays/portage/

I may be wrong, but I read (I think on Wikipedia) that they were Gentoo hybrid...

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tracyanne

Yes ChromeOS is indeed based on Gentoo.

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Bob Robertson

The Chromebook is working because people accept it's "Not A PC".

The reason pre-installation on store shelves didn't work the first time was because people bought this "PC" in a box, took it home, and their Dora the Explorer game didn't run on it. Since Dora ran on their last "PC", they took the Linux "PC" back as broken.

Now that Chromebooks are being UNDERSTOOD as "Not a PC", the fact that Windows software doesn't work is not shocking people.

In the home retail space, people want their old Windows software to work. They want the $4 CD game on the shelf next to the "PC" to install and work. And they don't, not on Linux.

Offices that don't use Microsoft applications, that choose F/OSS, get along just fine, but they're not running Dora the Explorer.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

The Chromebook could act like a "PC" if you installed Ubuntu on it using Crouton. Then you could toggle between Chrome OS and Ubuntu (when you're offline). The traditional method of loading software natively on the desktop won't go away entirely but it's currently being assaulted by the "Cloud Computing". If I was forced by my job to use MS Office, I wouldn't have to be on a "Windows Only" PC to use it. If I were a very "enterprising app developer", I would be developing cross-platform for the web to maximize my profit potential. There's HTML5, Python, etc....

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stites
Open Source Champion

I think that the next "must have" application will be a computer that integrates the home TV into the desktop computer. It will do such things as record a program on one channel while you are watching a program on a different channel, recording programs while you are away, removing ads from programs, play back recorded programs, etc. Such functionality probably already exists in stand alone boxes.

I think that the first general purpose OS to have such a TV application not bundled into a cable company or TV manufacturer will become a "must have" purchase for every home.

-----------------------
Steve Stites

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

It's an intriguing concept. Samsung and Sony appear to be best equipped to make that happen. They both make TV's and PC's. Sony has the added advantage of making Gaming consoles for access to their games so they can make the PC a "conduit" of entertainment convergence.

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Unidentified

Haven't we heard of Windows Media Centers, TiVo, several in Linux such as mythTV. Media Center is in most versions of Win7.

The problem with Linux is the compulsion of not trusting the user to act as administrator. One must practically be able to code to perform customization. A lack of intuitive GUI, it's a mess of pieces and parts. Painful navigation. I have made several attempts to try and make a Linux box be my main machine at home, starting with Redhat 7, there is just a massive step to make one a PRODUCTIVE workstation.

I find it hard to believe a writer assessing Ubuntu lists a web cam software package as the only major con.

I love trying to figure stuff out and the price is right but in the end if you need a reliable workhorse it's not Linux, yet.

Libreoffice is goodfor home, but who thinks that the delete key should bring a prompt?

Finally, given the domination by MS, integration needs to be seamless in order to interact with those who have not switched. If it were 50/50 market share, can you imagine how locked up the world would be if they didn't play nice.

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tracyanne

quote:: The problem with Linux is the compulsion of not trusting the user to act as administrator.

Compulsion? This is a security feature, that unlike Windows, removes the need for anti virus software. I don't understand what the problem is here. On Ubuntu and Ubuntu based systems this is handled by making the primary user, in a single user or home based system the person who's password unlocks Administrator privileges, for the specified task, it's simple and I've yet to meet anyone I've set up a Linux system for who actually has a problem with it.

On a fully secured Windows system access Administrator privileges requires logging out, then logging in as Administrator, which means operating in an unsecured environment, while at the same time the primary user can do nothing while logged into their locked down account.

Even non Ubuntu systems which don't use sudo allow the current or primary user easy access to root, either via su or via a graphical interface.

My first Linux based OS was Mandrake Linux 7.0, in 2000 (btw I've been a Windows user since the early 90s, so I've used all versions of Windows since Windows 3.0 up to and including Windows 8). Accessing and performing Administrations tasks were all carried out using GUI based tools, that merely required I enter the Administrator password to access. This was no big deal and was certainly consideraby more secure than my Windows sytems with administrator access by default, and considerably more user friendly than my Windows systems with unprivilaged user and seperate Administrator access.

quote:: One must practically be able to code to perform customization.

What a crock of shit. Once again I've yet to meet anyone I've set up a Linux based OS for who has any trouble customising their desktop. And they certainly don't have to access Administrator privileges to do it. There are ample GUI applications for the task, and in my experience of using Linux based Desktop oriented systems, since 2000, this has always been the case, when I started out using Mandrake Linux.

quote:: I have made several attempts to try and make a Linux box be my main machine at home, starting with Redhat 7, there is just a massive step to make one a PRODUCTIVE workstation.

This I think speaks more to your ineptitude, than any failing in Linux based OSs. As I've already pointed out, none of the people I've set up a Linux based OS for (and by definition they are not the sort of people who would do this for themselves with any OS) have any problem making their Linux based computer productive.

quote:: Libreoffice is goodfor home,

Personally I have found it more than adequate for my business, both for producing and consuming documents, including Microsoft Office documents of pre and post Open Office XML ilk.

quote:: but who thinks that the delete key should bring a prompt?

I have no idea, it certainly doesn't act that way on my Linux Mint MATE 16 desktop, Mind you + does indeed bring up a prompt, which states

Are you sure you want to permanently delete "filename.ext"?
If you delete an item, it will be permanently lost.

One can then choose to delete the file(s) or cancel. The reason for this is that by itself (just as on Windows) send the file(s) to the "garbage bin", while + deletes the file9s) permanently.

quote:: Finally, given the domination by MS, integration needs to be seamless in order to interact with those who have not switched.

Interestingly Linux and Free Software developers strive for exactly that, while Microsoft has so far managed to place obstacles in the way of seamless integration. Check out how the SaMBa developers finally managed to make SaMBa bug for bug compatible with SMB/CIFs.

quote:: If it were 50/50 market share, can you imagine how locked up the world would be if they didn't play nice.

This actually would never be the case, because the Free Software developers would be constantly forcing the systems to play nice while Microsoft would be attempting to stop that situation, as they have done constantly. Microsoft's domination depends on several things, all of which are slowly being eroded. But one of those things is the ability to lock out non Microsoft Operating systems like Linux.

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tracyanne

It seems I can't edit the previous post it should read

I have no idea, it certainly doesn't act that way on my Linux Mint MATE 16 desktop, Mind you <SHIFT> + <DELETE> does indeed bring up a prompt, which states

Are you sure you want to permanently delete "filename.ext"?
If you delete an item, it will be permanently lost.

One can then choose to delete the file(s) or cancel. The reason for this is that <DELETE> by itself (just as on Windows) send the file(s) to the "garbage bin", while <SHIFT> + <DELETE> deletes the file(s) permanently.

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Unidentified

Compulsion doesn't feel far off. I'm trying to point out more critical issues the author missed regarding getting Linux onto more desktops and you berate me with technicalities with which you have missed the point. Your insult of my apparent ineptitude is actually part of that point. Granted, I have been groomed for 25 years with Windows. But for exactly my skill level, I can still muddle thru uncharted territories in windows easier than I can in Linux. Not because Linux is lacking in capability, because it's so fatiguing to deal with. So thank you for helping illustrate how the mental cost of entry / change to Linux is just to over bearing in its present state for the mainstream desktop user. In the past 10 years, Linux has definitely improved at a faster rate than MS, but that's because it had so far to go, and it still does for the mainstream user.

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tracyanne

I did not berate you with technicalities. i pointed out some simple facts that you appear to have ignored.

No one I've installed Linux for has any issues with what you seem to feel are huge stumbling blocks... and I'm not talking about people, who like you believe they are capable of installing Linux, they are users of the non techie variety. Which leads back to your problems with Linux being you, and your approach to it.

A little knowledge in the hands of the wrong person being dangerous.

In point of fact everyone of your complaints was either a misunderstanding of how Linux works, or completely erroneous and FUD.

Once again the non techie users I've installed Linux for have no problems dealing with Linux, they don't find it fatiguing. By and large they find it useful and in some cases quite liberating.

That is the point you either failed to see or deliberately ignored.

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Don

Everyone has their "I've been ... since" statements. I have used DOS before windows since DOS 1.2. I used Windows before Windows in the form of the Windows RTS (run-time system) that MS was forced to put out because Windows 1.0 was waaaaaaaaay late and they had angry vendors who they'd talked into producing Windows software and had no Windows to run it. I used Windows 2, 286, 386, 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 95, NT3.5, NT 4, 98, 2000, XP and have dabbled with Win7 and own two Win8 laptops in which I've used Windows only to shrink the Windows partition to install a real OS in the majority of the drive space.

I've used Red Hat since 4.1 (1997--it came in a box at the local software store--remember those?). I have used RH 4 through 9, Fedora Core through 6, Fedora 7 through 20.

I feel qualified to say bah humbug to the Windows fanboys. Linux just keeps getting better and better. I greatly prefer the multiple desktops model for working with multiple apps--by comparison Windows seems cramped and cumbersome. I love the way you install Linux and you get dozens of useful full-fledged apps for all kinds of useful work instead of getting a naked Windows machine that needs to be populated with apps that cost $100 to $500 in order to make it useful.
I love the way that when I wanted to install a new motherboard with totally different processor, audio hardware and a new video card, Linux just booted up and in the process found and installed the new stuff.

For me todays' Linux is by far the superior OS compared to Windows XP and 7 and don't get me started on Windows 8 which is so astonishingly awkward that I'm not sure Microsoft will survive that mistake. Dodging the Vista/Longhorn bullet was one thing. Dodging the Win8 morass is entirely another.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

If you cannot cite specific examples (distro/feature) of what you referred to below, you will lack credibility for making overgeneralized statements which are completely erroneous.

"One must practically be able to code to perform customization. A lack of intuitive GUI, it's a mess of pieces and parts. Painful navigation. I have made several attempts to try and make a Linux box be my main machine at home, starting with Redhat 7, there is just a massive step to make one a PRODUCTIVE workstation."

My Mom (in her late 70's) who uses an iPad all day for social networking has no problem navigating Ubuntu 12.10's Unity interface to read or print content she can't execute on her iPad. By the way, she didn't start using modern PC's until my brother taught her how 2 years ago. In case you weren't aware, making changes to the Linux Mint and Ubuntu desktop are "menu driven", which do not require "coding" abilities whatsoever.

As an aside, Google just signed a deal with VmWare to access legacy and current Windows applications via thin client on Chromebooks.

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Walt
Open Enthusiast

That certainly take a lot of wishful thinking to make a beta distro production and Red Hat to boot! Don't get me wrong, I love RHEL but it is not a consumer appliance. I lived through the same scenario you describe years back trying to get FedoraCore to be my production environment. A coworker, who actually was a Linux kernel developer suggested I try Ubuntu because "it just worked". It has matured a lot since 2007. What I don't understand is the mindset of a Windows consumer. They are used to it not working, they are used to it crashing, they are used to it being slow, they are used to getting viruses. And all of that is OK with them. Does the average Windows consumer need anything beyond access to Facebook, access to Google, and access to hotmail? Notwithstanding the camera issue, that is a pretty low bar to cross.

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anonymous

I have used linux for many years and the applications are not very stable or reliable for day to day computing , for some users it may work fine depending on their hardware config but not for all users , linux apps dont undergo the same level of testing as windows apps , so until this happens better to pay for windows rather than suffer with untested linux apps.

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Unidentified

That's interesting, I've been using linux at home and at work for over a decade and the applications have gotten steadily better over time. To the extent that I find them more stable and capable than their windows counterparts in many ways. Besides web browsing and email, I also do audio editing, video editing and statisitical analysis and GIS analysis. which distribution and software are you using?

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tracyanne

What a load of rubbish.

I've been a Windows users since the early 90s (pre Window 95), so I've use all versions of Windows since Windows 3.0. I've been a Linux user since 2000, when I started using Mandrake Linux with a KDE 1.1.12 desktop.

Linux soon became my preferred desktop, because of the stability of the operating system and it's applications. Windows was relegated to those things I could not do on my Linux systems.

Programming in Visual Studio, Opening some Microsoft Office documents (the ones with Microsoft specific formatting or Microsoft Office Basic Macros), which means that in practice it got used for Programming in Visual Studio 99% of the time, while my Linux Desktop did everything else.

Stability of the applications on my Linux Desktops from Mandrake to Ubuntu to Linux Mint has never been a problem.

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Unidentified

What a load of hogwash

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ScottNesbitt
Open Source Champion

I know I shouldn't feed the trolls, but ...

Can't say I agree with you. Not in the least.

I've been using Linux for day-to-day personal and professional computing since 1999. The only times I found software to be unstable or unreliable is when I 1) used a bleeding-edge build, 2) used a piece of proprietary software built for Linux, or 3) tried to run certain software for other platforms using an emulator.

During that time, I've had no serious problems (aside from not having enough memory on an older desktop PC or two) using free and Open Source software. In fact, overall the performance and stability of the software I use has improved significantly. The tasks I've been doing have ranged from light computing to writing (short and long works), doing graphics and audio editing, and publishing documentation (using DocBook) and ebooks.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

That was a massive overgeneralization which is clearly untrue.

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Unidentified

I too use Linux. I have no trouble with unstable programs. Linux will let you use stable, testing and unstable. It is up to you, how cutting edge you want your software. Condemning all Linux for that is irresponsible. I chose to use Debian stable. You will not find anything more stable than that OS or the software it runs in Windows.

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joeaverager

I don't know about that. I use Mint Linux KDE 16 for professional and personal projects and it works very, very well for me.

The key is to stay away from the cutting edge software. Give each software version a few months to get in circulation and have any rough edges cleaned up by the Linux user community.

I've installed it on dozens and dozens of computers for people and young (8 yrs old) or old (80+ yrs old) they adapt pretty quickly if they have any computer smarts. The folks that have troubles are the ones wedded to the big blue 'E' on their Windows desktop with no awareness of what the names of the software they use is.

What browser do you use? Ahhhh...
What email program do you use? I don't know. I just clicked on "that".

These kinds of folks are focused on everything staying the same b/c they don't understand much abotu their computers and won't bother to learn an hour's worth of information. Even the eight year olds are easy to get up to speed b/c they don't have a preconcieved notion of everything must stay the same. ;)

The other type of person hard to help are those who believe a shopping list of myths about Linux created by a Windows user who has never used Linux or sought out an hour's worth of help from a Linux user to get up to speed.

Way back when circa 2000 when I first started using Linux it was a rough few weeks to learn as much about Linux as I knew about Windows which I knew inside and out. If I had a Linux using friend, I could have been a happy user in an hour and known as much about Linux as I did Windows in a few hours.

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Don

"I have used linux for many years and the applications are not very stable or reliable for day to day computing ,"

Horsepatootie.

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Walt
Open Enthusiast

While I can not debate your personal experience. I can tell you your assessment on testing is not necessarily accurate. Yes, apps like Microsoft Office, at this point, are pretty well shaken out, except for the new stuff that is pretty much broken. In the case of Office, 80% of the users use 20% of the product. That 20% is the same stuff that was in the last 20 versions. For the F/OSS the people working on it WANT to work on it. To them is IS a labor of love. Commercial software is often, if not always, shipped as 'it is good enough'. Remember, there is a profit motive there, as they want to make you buy the next version of it.

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Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejér

No one found Steam relevant here?

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Valve's contribution with its Steam OS/box will definitely make the Linux desktop more appealing. As soon as it reaches parity in the number of games with Windows, I expect more home users to cross over to Linux. (Ironically Windows Phone/Tablet is experiencing this same issue with its App store compared with Android/iOS.)

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tracyanne

quote:: There are quite a few OEMs which supply Linux Mint pre-installed. Since there is no coordination between independent developers of free Linux apps, the Linux Mint developers and the OEMs, I think OEMs need to install their own webcam software that is optimized for their hardware on Linux Mint. They should also consider using this same approach for video editors and image editors as well. ::quote

Better still, they could simply contribute back patches that make the applications work better on their hardware. We ARE talking about FOSS here, it's a no brainer that the OEM contributing to a project will improve it.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Great idea! However, how to do you give the OEM more incentive to make it "opensource" rather than "proprietary"?

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tracyanne

Since most of the companies providing Linux Mint, and indeed Ubuntu pre installed are already Free Software (did you see what I did there?) friendly, I'm not all that sure, as they are not doing it already. This may be because they don't [yet] have the resources, and only a matter of time and sales will change that. It may take investment from the Software (read Distribution builder's) companies to enable it.

As for the Dells of this world, that would probably take some sort of representation from companies like Canonical, Red Hat, Linux mint (not strictly speaking a company I know) and the up stream developers to negotiate / point out that maintaining an already Free Software application is far cheaper to maintain patches for than developing and maintaining a proprietary application.

In the end it comes down to what it is the more proprietary companies think it is they are in the the business to sell... one would think, a great experience using their hardware, and what they believe (or the Free Software community can convince them) is the most cost effective way of achieving that goal.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

All good points, tracyanne! The more eyeballs working with the software, the greater the ability to spot bugs quickly and fix them, besides being cheaper. If it's a priority bug and the Dell Engineer is waiting on critical info. from a volunteer Developer, how would it give the volunteer Developer more incentive to complete his bug fix or trouble-shooting task in a timely manner to the Dell Engineer? I've never been in a situation like that but I've been in production support for commercial ERP so things like this I wonder about.

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tracyanne

Good question, and one I don't know the answer to. At the moment I'm assuming it would be "somewhat' more loosely coupled than what happens in a commercial environment, where there are competing priorities, which is the only one I have to go on. More often than not one engineers urgent task is another engineers low priority task.

In any case it is likely it is the volunteer who is blamed/down prioritised depending on who has to deliver what and when which is likely to make volunteers less then inclined to involve themselves. So the solution has to come from the commercial end.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Or Dell could pay the volunteer Developer for a Support Contract to complete priority Bug fixes or provide critical info. to Dell Engineers in a timely manner.

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tracyanne

Yes that could be a solution to the problem. It would certainly be cheaper for the commercial entity to pay on a deliverables basis like that, than to finance their own development shop.

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Aseem Sharma
Open Source Champion

Great post Maricelle!!!
I have been using both Fedora and Ubuntu since some time now and find both the systems stable. The choices one has in Linux distros and the corresponding applications that can support a lot of day to day work is excellent.
"Made by engineers for the engineers" is fast becoming thing of the past. Also, with the growing adoption of Linux based systems in businesses, both small and big, the exposure is increasing. I know a lot of people who have switched to Linux based systems for personal use in the last couple of years.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Thanks for the encouraging words, Aseem! Good to hear from your experiences as well that it is possible to get "non-techie" people to adopt Linux. Fedora is one desktop I was considering trying in the future.

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Aseem Sharma
Open Source Champion

Thanks Maricelle. In years past, installing Linux did required some level of technical prowess but over the time the installation process has become remarkably easy. Fedora is one of my favorites, however I do think that Unity is a bit more polished than GNOME. Please share your experiences with Fedora with Opensource.com when you try it.

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J G Miller

If you are having trouble with cheese, and you have a webcam using the uvc kernel module, try guvcview which is a much more powerful and stable application.

http://guvcview.sourceforge.NET/

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

Thanks for the info. on guvcview, J G. I have already tried it after searching for alternatives to Cheese. It's still not working completely on either my Ubuntu 12.04/13.10 or Linux Mint 14 desktops on more than one laptop: 2008 Toshiba Satellite and 2009 HP Pavillion. Both were pre-installed with Vista and Windows 7, respectively. Maybe I haven't tried hard enough to figure out why it's not working.

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memi

UI design and look and feel coming from one.

linux desktop is ugly. if something nice comes it is slow.

and each program has a different look and feel - different shortcuts, colours do not adapt ...

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joeaverager

I don't know about ugly. Maybe you haven't spent much time with the settings? I find KDE to offer an almost unlimited number of tweaks with the ability to automatically import artwork upgrades from KDE-Look.org right through the KDE settings pages.

My KDE desktop looks far better to me than Win8 and as good or better to me than Win7. WinXP was somewhat limited without reskinning it as was early KDE.

Best of all, if Linux or KDE user wants something different, you can make your own and even share it with the world. For example my wife and I have shared many landscape wallpapers we've made on family outings.

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Don

I find this off the mark. Chromebooks are not desktop equivalents. They are laptops-light. No Chromebook needs to run powerful video editing software. That's nuts. Chromebooks are about browsing, email and lightweight wordprocessing. Come on, let's get real here.

MS has made Windows 8/8.1 even worse as a multi-tasking OS than even Win XP or Win 7--hard to believe that's possible but when you've decided to give up the desktop to fight cell phones that's what the geniuses in Redmond have to offer.

The big opportunity for Linux on the Desktop is the fumbling of Microsoft and their apparent disdain for making the desktop useable as a desktop while making it emulate a bad smartphone.

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artsytechlady
Open Minded

I agree with most of what you've said. However, I've seen several people say that video and photo editing are tasks that they would like to be able to do more efficiently on a Chromebook. I think Google is going to address that problem sooner rather than later with the hiring of Adobe Photoshop Exec John Nack.

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Don

A user who buys a $250 chromebook and expects to do meaningful video editing or photo processing is uninformed or delusional. Do they try to do those on their cell phones or cheap tablets?

Misinformation about just what a Chromebook is and what it can do can cause customer dissatisfaction. But that's true of Windows RT tablets, Kindles and a host of other products that are misunderstood.

As soon as you beef up the memory of a CB to 4-16GB, beef up the storage to 1TB, beef up the processing power to i5 or better, give it a larger screen, yada yada then you have a laptop that is still missing laptop goodies. Use advertising to teach people what you gain in low weight & convenience at low cost vs more weight, bigger size and higher cost for something that works for a wider range of projects.

Afterall, buyers who purchase a Kia Soul are not buying a 1 ton pickup truck and aren't expecting to haul a ton of sand or gravel in the back. Different products for different jobs.

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Endafy

IMHO this is how I think Linux could catch on and be mainstream... wait for it...

Android.

You might be going "woah buddy thats a smartphone OS" or the addage "Android isn't real Linux" and to the ladder you are completely wrong it is a modified Linux kernel with other additions.

Well I believe Android if given a nice desktop based launcher with some sort of menu system that was mouse and keyboard friendly could drive adoption faster than you might think.

Android is already very established in the smartphone universe. It is a brand people recognize. It is already heavily developed for. If it got some desktop love, developers would see it as a very viable option as they already have vested interests and the applications people use, would simply need a facelift to be mouse and keyboard ready.

Furthermore, Android has been monetized in the past. It being sold for "free" rather than given away. It is worth $0, which is to say it has some sort of value. Something with a worth of $0 is still worth. GNU Linux has no worth to speak of.

If you are talking about GNU Linux, then I can tell you from a business perspective that it WILL NEVER catch on. There is no money in it. Sure you can charge for services, but how long will that last as someone comes along with a free solution. If I cannot monetize something, then there is no need to drive adoption. Money drives everything, in fact the entire world runs on it in some form or another, and if not money, then trade. GNU Linux is worth a ton in interest, but it is worth less than a piece of bread. I cannot trade you GNU Linux for a piece of bread as this goes against the very nature of GNU entirely. The interest comes from goods and services developed on top of it, which are also GNU and so on. In fact the entire market for GNU Linux is so flooded with distributions of Linux, Linux is even worth less than you might think. It d-valuates every time a distribution is made. It is like printing money, making the original dollar worth even less and less over time.

This does not mean that Linux in it's very nature cannot become worth something, but it needs to change it's license to allow itself to be monetized. Once value is added to Linux itself, then it could catch on more than you know. I could charge you for my work. I could make the next Linux distribution as good as Ubuntu, sell it at a very low cost. I could then pay developers to make it better and better over time.

See as we live in a very limited amount of years, generally 60-80, what is your time worth to you. I can go to work and come home and with that money buy bread. I can't take the time invested into Linux and buy that same bread. It taxes you costing you time. Unless you like computers, and like Linux, then you won't probably care what OS it runs, just as long as it gets you to whatever it is that you want to accomplish.

Back on the topic of having no worth and being worth $0. Something worth $0 can be traded. I can gift it to you. I can trade you for a slice of bread. That bread being worth 1 cent. I then added exponential growth. I can take that 1 cent and invest it further. Say if you don't particularly care for white bread and want wheat bread, and wheat bread is worth 2 cents, but the next guy likes white bread, you just doubled your profits.

Linux otoh has no value at all. It has what is called interest value. Interest value is added when time is invested into something at a loss. If I invest time in helping a friend for free, I just lost time and lost money. Sure it will help grow your friendship, but you can't actually trade friendship, friendship is a type of mind-share. You can't trade mind-share. You can develop a base of market with mind-share, but what are you selling? Say since you helped your friend move furniture, and in the future you want to sell him that same slice of bread. He doesn't owe you anything for the interest value you gave to him. It is entirely up to him whether or not to give you 1 cent for that slice of bread you are selling. He can also go to the next guy and get free bread d-valuating your bread even further to half of a cent. Something that has an exponential loss as Linux is only compounded by the fact that you have to put more time into it than it is actually worth in interest. Linux has over 100 different distributions but lets use 100 as a round number. Say you are selling your flavor of Linux for 1 dollar. 99 other guys give theirs away for free. That has d-valuated your flavor to 1 cent. If 100 people were interested in Linux and each liked a different flavor you made 1 dollar off of 1 person out of 100. Over time you need to get another dollar cutting it into 1/100. It means that your dollar is now worth 1 centto that guy you last sold it to. He now learned he can get 1 of 99 other flavors which are basically the same thing, only differing in some unimportant way. Even if your 1 dollar flavor is the best of the best, there are 99 other ones ready and willing and only missing some sort of bell or whistle. It can get the same job done in the same amount of time only requiring a little more effort.

As you can see Linux is worth less than it is worth. The time/value is in the negative. Android being sold for $0 has more worth than something that is negative. OS X Mavericks is sold for free as a bonus to purchasing a Mac. It adds value to owning a Mac. Can I install OS X onto my own PC? Sure in some way which takes more time than plunking down money and having it done for me. Either way it is still worth $0, but it is also seen as a positive interest. Also Windows based PCs which do the same job as a Mac, not being as good as a Mac sell better as they are cheaper. Point in case. Hope this teaches people that GNU Linux in it's current state will always remain in the corner of some obscure market.

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tracyanne

quote:: Hope this teaches people that GNU Linux in it's current state will always remain in the corner of some obscure market. ::quote

"in it's current state" being the operative here. But this article and discussion, or at least some of it, has been about changes to "it's current state", how to influence that and how to ensure the quality stays high and the experience improves. About GNU/Linux being the same value add as $0 OSX, for example. Where Linux is the bonus for buying ZaReason or Dell or Asus etc hardware.

Yes, as things stand, where GNU/Linux is not only an after market add on, but requires that one pay for (in most cases, though there are OEMs providing Gnu/Linux as the prize for buying their hardware) an operating system that one doesn't actually want, then go through the semi arduous task of installing Gnu/Linux. Yes in that situation it is hardly a prize and it is no wonder most people have never heard of Linux, and or don't want anything to do with it.

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Unidentified

It is a choice to buy that other operating system. There are places like Tiger Direct one can buy a computer with no operating system. That is what I choose to do. You can also buy ZaReason or System 76 with Linux installed. If you chose to buy one with Windows, then you are probably using both and dual booting. That again is a personal choice.

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Maricelle Thomas has a MBA with a background in Engineering and IT. She started out as an Industrial Engineer and later moved into supporting and implementing ERP systems and Web Applications. A strong interest in the Arts and Creative fields led to her current gig as a Tech Blogger. Her deep experience in Business Analysis and various technologies enable her to provide her readers with a rich perspective on how technology can improve their daily lives. Check out her videos on YouTube or

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