Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Elizabeth White, Zakia Bouachraoui, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

Is Linux Desktop-Ready Yet...or Not?

Point-Counterpoint Special on the state of the union so far as Linux on the desktop is concerned

Mark R. Hinkle: "Linux is ready for the desktop"

In my view, Linux on the desktop is a viable operating system.

It offers many features that are more innovative than commercial solutions. Virtual consoles, secure remote access solutions, true multi-tasking, and the ability to use robust journaling file systems all come to mind. Despite these advanced features, I have also noticed some parallels between Linux and some earlier versions of Windows. Let’s term these similarities as “growing pains.”

I do feel that there are many cases today where Linux is an inadequate solution, specifically in the area where James Turner's complaint lies - in laptops(docking is my pet peeve) and multimedia. However, I believe James to be a high-needs user; it’s my contention that much of the computing world comprises low-needs users. These terms should not reflect poorly on either group, but one group is definitely in the minority.

I think that Windows for example has made convenience an expectation of all users - but that comes with a price. Tight integration between office suites and the operating system have made viruses via Outlook a major productivity concern among MS Office users. Automated installation of software has made it so hard to remove some applications that there is a cottage industry dedicated to “cleaning up the OS.” Particularly insidious applications like spyware are difficult to detect and often even more difficult to remove. Centralized configuration repositories like the registry are often so complex that it's a major chore to fix or change settings that rip(out) and reinstall seem to be the only options. However, despite these serious usability and security concerns, Windows is considered to be “ready for the deskop” and is the unarguable market leader.

I believe that, since we have come to expect these problems, we as users have become inured to these obvious flaws. I liken this situation to automobiles. As I was growing up my father owned a car repair shop and auto sales lot. In those days it was not uncommon for us to fix a car in the driveway. Most anything could be repaired with basic tools. He and I were once incredulous at the fact so many people choose to pay to have minor repairs done. Now it’s almost impossible for the average person to repair modern cars because of the computers, sensors, and the complexity that includes features that my father probably would never have dreamed of when he bought his first car in the 1960s.

These features come with a price, as they have with my significant other’s car, a sporty German model with a glowing blue dashboard and features of all varieties. She recently had an annoying problem with her emissions sensors. The local repair shop ‘fixed’ the problem and she brought the car home. Once again the problem resurfaced and persistent error messages caused her to return for repairs. After multiple visits the solution was simply to reinstall all the parts because they were too complex to troubleshoot the root of the problem. This disposable mentality disagrees with me. This is the problem I have with Windows: it’s often too complex to fix the problem; the alternative is to try to rip out and replace. This method is often less than foolproof. With my Linux PC it’s very seldom that I can’t repair a problem and a re-install is often much less complicated than in the alternative “ready for the desktop” operating systems.

On my desktop I have installed many variations of Linux including Lycoris and Xandros. I have to say that after installing both of these distributions I had a much more pleasant experience than I ever did installing other OSes. Then again my concerns were very simple. I needed e-mail, Web browsing, office applications and instant messaging. One thing that I also liked was that I very seldom rebooted. In Windows, I felt like I rebooted constantly and memory usage for even the simpler apps could skyrocket right off the chart, grinding my PC to a halt.

As far as Linux on the desktop goes, I think the operating system is very good - it works well, despite some warts. And at the rate it’s improving, those "warts" are disappearing quickly. The limiting factor as I see is “application availability.” I think this is truly where James’ frustration primarily lies, as does mine. Today the availability of well-developed applications as compared to other operating systems is much lower. However, I have a “Field of Dreams” mentality for the Linux desktop, I can hear the whisper through the cornfields saying, “if you build it they will come.”

The key is to get application vendors, as the community has already done, to start to make software for Linux on par with their Windows offerings. I think there's a tremendous opportunity for commercial apps on Linux including legal DVD software, personal finance and sales contact managers such as ACT! and Goldmine. Not only do these applications need to address their intended purpose but they need to be easy to install. That end of the business is being addressed somewhat by Lindows with their Click-N-Run Warehouse, but there are not user oriented solutions such as Click-N-Run for Fedora, Mandrake, SuSE and others.

In summary, is Linux on the desktop today a universal solution that is appealing to all? No. Is Linux a solution that can address the needs of a large portion of desktop users? Absolutely. Will Linux on the desktop be the universally accepted solution of tomorrow? Maybe.


See next page for the Counterpoint by James Turner...
Linux Is Nowhere Near Ready for the Desktop

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

More Stories By James Turner

James Turner is president of Black Bear Software. James was formerly senior editor of Linux.SYS-CON.com and has also written for Wired, Christian Science Monitor, and other publications. He is currently working on his third book on open source development.

Comments (198)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Nicolas Fierro is CEO of MIMIR Blockchain Solutions. He is a programmer, technologist, and operations dev who has worked with Ethereum and blockchain since 2014. His knowledge in blockchain dates to when he performed dev ops services to the Ethereum Foundation as one the privileged few developers to work with the original core team in Switzerland.
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
If a machine can invent, does this mean the end of the patent system as we know it? The patent system, both in the US and Europe, allows companies to protect their inventions and helps foster innovation. However, Artificial Intelligence (AI) could be set to disrupt the patent system as we know it. This talk will examine how AI may change the patent landscape in the years to come. Furthermore, ways in which companies can best protect their AI related inventions will be examined from both a US and...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Bill Schmarzo, Tech Chair of "Big Data | Analytics" of upcoming CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York (November 12-13, 2018, New York City) today announced the outline and schedule of the track. "The track has been designed in experience/degree order," said Schmarzo. "So, that folks who attend the entire track can leave the conference with some of the skills necessary to get their work done when they get back to their offices. It actually ties back to some work that I'm doing at the University of San...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things'). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing. IoT is not about the devices, its about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. This paper discusses the considerations when dealing with the...
Bill Schmarzo, author of "Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business" and "Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science," is responsible for setting the strategy and defining the Big Data service offerings and capabilities for EMC Global Services Big Data Practice. As the CTO for the Big Data Practice, he is responsible for working with organizations to help them identify where and how to start their big data journeys. He's written several white papers, is an avid blogge...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.