Can Linux Transplant Windows As Main Desktop OS?

In one word, yes. But one word just doesn’t do justice the issue of addressing linux as a desktop OS to replace Windows and its huge established base of users who are used to a “simpler” desktop operating system. I love linux, but unfortunately:

  • I have to go with what I know
  • I don’t have the time to dedicate to the learning curve for linux
  • and I use Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop and cannot accept that linux cannot run them 100% (Wine etc do not do a 100% job and Adobe has yet to release versions for linux).

On October 21st ZDNet’s Paul Murphy wrote Desktop Unix: MacOS X and SUSE Linux where he compared MacOS X, Novell Suse Linux, and Windows and had this to say:

… Back on planet earth, however, it’s hard to think of an argument for buying a Microsoft desktop that doesn’t start and end with: “because we already have Microsoft…”

If you’re halfway objective about it, that leaves you to choose between the latest Linux desktop and MacOS X for your users – a choice most people will, I think, find to be an absolute no brainer.

I have to respectfully disagree because I think his post missed an even more important issue than an installed client base for Windows being the deciding factor. First off, I agree the other 2 platforms perform better and are more dependable. I rarely use a Mac, they are mystical and wonderful creatures I’ve read about but which my main experience has been browsing the web and using the email client – both of which had shortcuts on the desktop. Beyond that I get lost, and really it doesn’t count that I learned some Basic programming on an Apple 2e back in high school.

Where was I? Oh yes, the important issue I think Paul overlooked in this particular post is that of learning the new operating system. Yes, there is a learning curve for linux as this link and my personal experience can attest to, and there is also a learning curve for the Mac though I lack much experience in that arena. For users like me that is a personal choice – do I want to take the time to read, google around and maybe buy some books on learning to use one of these new operating systems? However for a business that translates to training both your existing workforce as well as new employees who will most certainly come with a Windows background more often than a Mac or linux background unless you run an IT business, work in or around the school system or do something like graphics art.

I think at the heart of the matter, this is the frustrating reason (besides the installed client base that Paul mentioned) that Mac and linux desktops are not enjoying a heavier market share. A major shift away from Windows to either would force Microsoft to address usability issues like OS design/architecture/navigation (where is it and how do I use it?) and reliability (how often will it crash?) sooner rather than later.

Here’s to wishing!

My Linux Journal Day 26

I was looking at replacing my current linux machine with a hopefully more powerful one, and after loading a Linux distro onto it I found it had a 650MHz CPU with only 128MB of RAM. Needless to say I was disappointed. According to a badge on its case it was built by Quest, or the tower case is by Quest. I really don’t know much about it besides I’m taking its 16GB drive to use as a scratch drive for Photoshop on my work machine and the rest is going into the trash can.

After using the Linux Hardware Lister tool on the other one, I ran it on my current Linux machine, a Pavilion 8766C.

To run Linux Hardware Lister, open a console and  type:

sudo lshw

I was glad to see I had upgraded the RAM significantly, so all in all this 900 MHz P3 with 128MB of RAM, onboard video, onboard sound (Rockwell Chameleon combo card) has been upgraded with a total of 512MB of RAM, a 128MB GeForce4 MX4000 video card and a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Ensoniq ES1371 sound card.

My Linux Journal Day 17

Okay, I’ve gotten started with the Quanta HTML editor because Bluefish just didn’t do it for me. Mainly there was no color picker, and I’m not going to use an external program, my memory, or a website for colors.

So Quanta is installed and in action here:

Quanta screesnhot

This is pretty cool because its also my first time using GIMP. Simple image re-size was the order for the day, but it was pretty cool to be using 100% free software to do all of this. SO here are the beginnings of my web design suite on my linux machine:

The workflow is different with Quanta + gFTP + Photoshop than it is for Dreamweaver, but its easy enough to get used to. First off, I don’t have a dual monitor setup on my linux machine yet, so I’ll rely on virtual desktops to separate Quanta + gFTP from GIMP.

More later, I think this is off to a decent start.

Preparing Ubuntu 7.04 for Upgrade to 7.10

I’m a novice Linux user, although I’ve used Linux on and off for about 10 years. Most of that 10 years has been OFF without Linux, so each time I start over I have to learn everything all over again.

The history with my Linux machine… where to start? Its an HP Pavilion 8766c (an old PC with a 900MHz P3, and 128 to 256 512MB RAM). It has had about 5 different distros of Linux on it during the past several years. Right now its running Ubuntu 7.04 (Feisty Fawn) but I’ve been getting error messages while updating packages recently. A couple of months ago the Linksys EtherPCI LAN Card II network card died on me.

Well recently I installed a Network Everywhere NC100U-WM network card ($15 at Wal-mart) and it got right back online with no configuration! I was pleasantly surprised, and ready to do some updates. Naturally I got some error messages. that’s when I saw the “Upgrade” button to upgrade to 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon). The upgrade attempt was riddled with error messages so I decided to “wipe the system clean”. Last time I tried installing Ubuntu on Ubuntu it didn’t work for me. So I decided to install another distro (temporarily) and then re-install 7.04 fresh right back on top of it all, giving me a clean, “factory fresh” install.

After my re-install of 7.04 I did an update, about 266 updates to be exact, and I had no error messages. Great start! Next I clicked that “Update” button again and the system has now successfully been upgraded to Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibson).

Now I have to get ready to install all of the items I need (Adobe Flashplayer, Adobe Acrobat Reader, etc…) and other software packages later.

How Cool is Linux?

Throughout the 1990’s Linux evolved into, been packaged into, a desktop Operating System, and into the new millennium its become more and more user-friendly. At some point it became an operating system no longer relegated to just us “computer geeks”, it became a viable alternative desktop operating system for the masses.

More recently Linux has gotten cool. How you ask? Big business has had an eye on Linux for years now, and more recently realized if it was ignored it could become a competitor in one way or another. In 2001 Unix-based Mac OS X (okay that’s not Linux, but its close enough) hit the market in new Macintosh computers. According to Wikipedia.org, Apple has also customized versions of its Unix-based OS X in Apple TV, iPhone and the iPod touch.

More recently computer maker HP introduced its first laptop with Linux, and since has also begun offering Linux Servers. HP has even done some custom deals with Linux Desktops, and may offer factory installed Linux Desktops down the road (well of course, right?).

What’s next, Microsoft and Linux? Yup. Just this year Microsoft partnered with Novell (makers of Suse Linux). Microsoft and Linux? Maybe the next version of Windows will be called Windows TUX, who knows?

So how cool is Linux? Well, including Unix-based OS X you’ve got installations in Macintosh Desktops, Apple TV, iPhone, iPod touch, plus computer maker HP and Microsoft also jumping on board the “Linux train”. Oh yes and lets not forget the server this blog runs on is a Linux server! Cool, eh?

UPDATE: 1/17/2008 – A Step Closer to Linux

I just found out today that Max OS X is, in part, based on Darwin/Rhapsody/OPENSTEP which are open source versions of Unix, some developed by Apple, Inc.