Sunday, April 1, 2012

Linux Desktop Rant

http://www.techcentral.co.za/linux-on-the-desktop-what-went-wrong/30713/

I know, it's bad form to lead the blog with a hot-link to another web site.  But you have to know that I'm a little frustrated at part-time Linux users and their constant bashing of how the Linux Desktop is dead or how the Linux Desktop is substandard because it can't be set up on certain machines.  Oh, and I'm just a little tired of throwing Ubuntu or Mint up as the only viable Linux OS's that can be used as a desktop and when they fail to set them up on their "experimental" machines, all Linux fails.

Here's the deal.  I have been running Linux on my machine for over 2 years now.  Since I closed my business, I had no need to pay for an OS and I completely switched to my favorite, Fedora.  I am not a gamer, so Fedora works just fine for me.    I was a W7 Beta tester.  And I did enjoy it.  But when the Beta came to an end and was time to buy the full version, I chose not to.  I chose to switch over to Fedora 100%.  I don't even dual boot.  I have no need to.  I do everything I need to do from my Fedora box.

Things have to be understood when switching to Linux.  The first thing that should be done is read the installation manual of the OS.  Every Linux distribution has one.  Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora (my favorite), Centos, Scientific, Arch, and the list goes on.  Every one of them has some sort of an installation manual.  Most of them have user forums.  The manual and the forums are a must for new and advanced users because, unlike MS and Apple, Linux does not have a 24 hour customer service hotline.  The forums take the place of that.  And I think Linux is better in that regard because the forums put us in touch with regular people, just like us, who want Linux to succeed.

So, if for some reason a printer doesn't work, check the manual and the forum.  If, for some reason, Flash doesn't work, by all means, check the manual and the forum.  Oh, if your dual monitors don't work, hey, somebody's been there and done that.  If you can't get KMail or Evolution to work properly, gee whiz, ask the forum.  Someone knows.  Hey, even Google helps with stuff like that, however, it's always nice to check the forums first.

Most Linux distributions have another thing that leading market OS's do not have.  Their developers are available to chat with on what they call IRC or Internet Relay Chat.  Fedora has this as well as KDE, Gnome, and most other mainline distributions and Linux developers.  Try that with mainstream MS or Apple.  Only with Linux can an average person communicate with a big time developer.  Again, try that with MS or Apple.  Have fun with that.  Oh, and the Linux "big time developers" are regular people who have day jobs just like you and me.

Another thing I'm sick of is saying Linux only holds 1%-2% of the Desktop market share.  Well, that figure is really stupid and misleading.  Every Linux user knows that, too.  Why?  Because Linux is free and because it is free, it is not marketed the same way MS and Apple OS's are.  Let me say this again.  Because Linux Distributions (With the exception of Red Hat) are free, they skirt around the market.  I would have to guess-ta-mate that Linux Desktops amount to more than 2% of all Desktops in the world.  We will never know because, really, no one person who matters is really counting.  They are just enjoying the freedoms that come with associating with the Open Source OS community.  Oh, I should also mention that corporations that use Linux Servers also use Linux Workstations which are the best option for interfacing with the Linux Servers.  So, since Workstations are essentially Desktops (or Laptops), I think the percentage goes up quite a bit.  It would be interesting to ask Amazon how many Linux Workstations they have, wouldn't it?

So, when a Linux distribution talks about "marketing", it is really talking about OS evangelising or apologetics.  Distributions depend on regular users volunteering to promote and distribute among their peers and communities.  They use their own money to "get the word out", burn ISO disks, pay for promotion material, and hold Distribution Parties and Developer Parties.  Promotion moneys come from private individuals and corporations and is limited.  But by no means is Linux marketed the same way MS or Apple is.  The only reason Linux is even in the news today is because of volunteers who share the Open Source dream.  And the only reason Linux is even on desktops is because one man shared his dream with regular people like you and me.

So thanks, Linus, for sharing.

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