We Should Just Pack up Our PC's and Go Home

John C. Dvorak, a man that I have sometimes related to, he being an old curmudgeon. His articles sometimes are dead on. So, I read the following article by John C. Dvorak, and am now convinced we should all forget the Linux desktop.

Now, this subject has been thoroughly wrung dry. I just wanted to comment how many, like this guy, don’t get FOSS. To them, if it isn’t a commercial success, it’'s useless. FOSS and open licenses are all about sharing, not money. It’s the ‘I created something here that I would like to share. Feel free to make any changes you would like.’ Not a money making ideology at all. I’m glad some are able to get a bit of income from donations and such. Nothing wrong with that. But, I have never heard of one getting into FOSS hoping to get rich.

Yes and no. One of the reasons the term “Open Source” was coined was to get away from the idea of “Free Software” as most people mistake the free as meaning free beer when the four freedoms point towards free as in free speech. The way to make money in FOSS however is non-traditional, and as a billion dollar company Red Hat shows that FOSS := only ideology.

I guess I have, in my mind, some stereotype of a coder in his basement room, typing away, making software, after he came home from work.

Overall, I view FOSS as a selfless endeavor. A spirit of community.

Interesting article. He makes some interesting points, but I think where is off the mark is the notion that Linux is only really successful if it fulfills all of someone’s needs.

I believe that in our modern computing society Open Source does not fulfill all needs, as Dvorak says. I wish it did, and for some it will, but for many it just doesn’t.

Speaking personally, as a long-time fan of Open Source, I use non-free software in some cases too. I just need it to get my job done, and to his point, most people consider getting their jobs done (or their hobbies) as more important than the ethics of software.

I think we need a less rigid view. There are many, many awesome pieces of Open Source software that provide best of breed functionality. Examples include Apache, Docker, MySQL, PHP, Ruby, Python…but many of these are in the server or systems programming world.

Where the desktop and consumer-facing Open Source sits is not neccessarily best of breed but I think it provides a compelling enough solution for many to use it. Examples of this include LibreOffice, GIMP, Scribus, XChat, Thunderbird, and more.

So, I think Dvorak has a point, but he takes too binary a view of it. I think there is tremendous value in Open Source and consider it a success, but I think some in the wider FLOSS community should be a little less snotty when people need to use less-than-Free-Software tools. :smile:

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We sure are funny creatures, us humans. We get so intent on something and think everyone should believe as I do (when I say “I”, I mean “you”, because everyone should believe as I do, me being the center of the universe :smile:) Kind of reminds me of some vegans who will openly condemn anyone who eats meat. I, on the other hand, say: ‘eat what suits you’. I love FOSS, but realize that there may be applications that FOSS does not meet, or do well. And if a someone would rather use Lightroom instead of Rawtherapee, that’s just fine. I just wish that either software came with the time to use them!

While I agree with the general sentiment in the article, this kind of stuck out at me. I get that Dvorak is referring to some form of user-facing “killer app”, but I’m of the opinion there already is a “killer software package” on Linux: the LAMP stack. Being able to take a stock Linux system, run a few commands, and end up with a fully featured, vastly customisable web application stack is, to me, one of the main draws of Linux.

In my mind, the chances of Linux as a desktop user environment are slim to none, beyond that of the enthusiast, academic or engineering realms. I’ve been saying this for a while now; if you want a featureful, reliable, UNIX-friendly user-facing environment, buy a Mac.

I understand the generally restrictive and expensive nature of the Macintosh hardware ecosystem can be an issue, but take a Mac mini, add a Thunderbolt expansion chassis (e.g. using PCIe), and in theory, the sky’s the limit.

For the power user, with OS X, you have access to modify system configuration by GUI or command line (and another point: you actually have a decent command line rather than nasty old CMD.EXE!), you can install a large swath of applications from first-tier development companies (e.g. Adobe, Microsoft), indie developers (cf most of the App Store) and FOSS (i.e. via Homebrew or MacPorts). It ships with a very good development environment. It’s regularly updated, including not just bug fixes but advanced technologies (64-bit, multi-threading, memory compression, timer coalescing, etc etc).

The desktop, to me (and I appreciate this is not everyone’s view, but this one is mine), the desktop is a solved problem. The server end is where all the fun begins :wink:

As someone who went through all of Uni and the last 4 years of his career on Linux desktops I’d have to say they have some use for me. For development they are fantastic, especially when using open source stacks like LAMP or any other Linux server stack, which is half the server market. And for developing for other opensource platforms like Android, which has about 80% of the mobile market wrapped up. So again, depends on what you want from a “Desktop”? For me, I want a good dev environment and to me there’s none better than Linux.

Also I don’t get his saying “time has run out”. ? What time frame? Nothing (almost) is an instant success, now I’ll admit Linux has been around for a while and still not “conqured” the desktop but so what? Does he have some X year period where we should just abandon everything after?

Finally who is his audience? Most of them aren’t working on the linux desktop for the reasons he seems to think. A lot are doing it for fun or themselves and a lot are paid by companies to make a good desktop for developers on that stack (Red Hat). Now maybe that’s also the reason it hasn’t taken off in the general population because it is very targeted at developers like me, but so what?

Finally what is his metric of success? Greater than X% ? What is that? Why? In small markets like the OS market with only a few contenders thats gonna be differente than dense markets too? so does he have a formula? Cus you know what, MacOS has never had a majority of the desktop share, so should they give up? or is around 20% ok to him?

What about flooded markets with hundreds of vendors and no majority? should they all give up?

In summary, this article is silly, written possibly most at people who don’t really exists. Do what you want, that’s the whole idea of almost everything :slight_smile:

For me the Linux desktop has won: It does what I want it to and the price is right (free).

[quote=“dan, post:7, topic:3871”]
Now maybe that’s also the reason it hasn’t taken off in the general population because it is very targeted at developers like me, but so what?[/quote]

I agree as a developer and also an engineer it fits my needs so I use it.

Is Linux ever going to become a market leader on the PC desktop? I doubt it but the PC desktop market is shrinking because many people don’t need a desktop and can get away with a smart phone, tablet or netbook which are certainly not Microsoft or Apple dominated. I’m not saying the PC will disappear entirely however there will always be a lot of us who need a computer.

With the exception of people like us I don’t think many people consider the OS and just use whatever the hardware comes with.

Certainly if you are looking for high end games the big companies like EA are not going to produce for Linux unless it becomes, or is close to being a market leader, and for it to become a market leader it will need to attract high end games - never going to happen.

This is why my teenage daughter has a Windows 7 Laptop and I’m running Ubuntu.

Sales of PC’s have declined, but Dvorak (in other articles) has attributed this to, not that people are getting rid of PC’s, but are finding that their PC from a few years ago are still doing the job. It use to be that one had to plan on a new PC every two to three years just to run the latest software. Now, most software, that the average person uses, can still be run on XP or Vista, so why buy a new PC? It is a little different with some applications, such as Photoshop, but how many people use that? Overall PC use probably is declining since one can access Facebook and such on a mobile device.

Not sure I agree with those examples – I personally find LibreOffice and Gimp and Inkscape acceptable, but others do not – but it’s missing a big thing. Firefox and Chrome. They’re open source, and clearly best of breed.

Anyone use Rawtherapee?

This whole LiMux criticism is so annoying. It’s so obvious that the mayor has absolutely no clue about IT. His main argument why Linux and FOSS is bad is that he is not able to sync his mails an calendars on his phone, what is obviously not an issue of FOSS. (by the way, I live in munich)

I cannot help to wonder what untold deals are being made between the mayor or other officials and Microsoft. While having the city there as a client is small for MS, it would be a concerning precedent for them to face.

That’s true but I think the city council will think about it seriously before buying Windows and office licenses for 15.000 Desktops. Additionally most of these workstations would need newer machines because Win8 wont run on elder hardware.

It would really be a shame if the showcase LiMux would fail.

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