2011 - The Year Of...
August 31, 2011 10:29 AM   Subscribe

Linux - The Desktop Summit 2011, interview with Aaron Seigo. 'This year at The Desktop Summit 2011, for the second time, both' the KDE and GNOME 'communities have decided to organise a single, joint conference.'

'After years of focusing on further improving KDE4 two weeks ago the developers of the free desktop announced the next big step for their project: KDE Frameworks 5.0. But as long-time developer - and Plasma team leader - Aaron Seigo points out in an interview with derStandard.at/web, the source-incompatible changes shall be held to a minimum, making it easy for developers to port their applications. He goes on to explain that Frameworks 5.0 is only the first step and new Applications and Workspace releases are to follow later, talks about Plasma active and further areas of collaboration with the other big free desktop: GNOME.'

'Aaron Seigo: Is there demand for something other than iOS? Absolutely - because unless you are Apple you have no choice. So the real question is: In a market with Android is there still appetite? And when you look around what is actually being developed in the market, yes - there are a lot of Android devices. But: There's a lot of non-Android devices too, for example MeeGo is being used on an increasing number of products, like the WeTab in Germany. What we are seeing is that a lot of people are looking for ways to differentiate.

So we have an open development model, it allows you to make changes as you see fit. And we have an emphasis on the whole device spectrum. We don't see everything segmented quite so clearly between tablet, smartphone, set-top boxes - we see it as a continuum. And no one else is really looking at it this way in the market. And it's a fickle market, it's not like the desktop or the server world where once a certain vendor has a lock on the market, it becomes exceptionally difficult to introduce a second or third player. If you look at iOS it has muscled RIM out of the smartphone dominance in just a few years. Android appears and within just three years of actually shipping on phones it is the number one.

There is also not a lot of ways to lock-in the users, which gives vendors the freedom to choose what they want. Users get to their Twitter, they get to their images, they can read their PDFs or E-Books no matter on which OS they are - and that's all they care about. The day of the operating system itself being a lock-in is pretty much gone.'
posted by VikingSword (81 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
The most significant problem facing linux and open source software today is "design by committee". If they can overcome that and have some sort of unifying vision (a la Apple), there's a chance.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:04 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please, Linux, whatever you do, do not do anything "a la Apple".
posted by DU at 11:06 AM on August 31, 2011 [10 favorites]


That the gnome and kde developers don't make "focus follows mouse" the default setting, or at least make it easy to select this behavior and that they even try to make this setting hard to find just pisses me off so extremely much that I don't really care what else they may ever have to say. (and if you don't know what I'm talking about here's a good rant about it.. And on preview, what DU said, don't follow apple, they get the focus follows mouse thing completely wrong too.
posted by smcameron at 11:09 AM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Is focus follows mouse really that important? I find it distracting.
posted by JHarris at 11:16 AM on August 31, 2011


I'm not sure what DE the machines at my uni's computer lab used, but their focus-follows-mouse behavior was really great at the time. It's less important to me now that I've got a big enough screen to have the window with focus on top all the time.
posted by Jpfed at 11:21 AM on August 31, 2011


The most significant problem facing linux and open source software today is "design by committee".

It seems like UI design has hit a period similar to the modernist phase of architecture i.e. brutalism: they are designing interfaces which no one really likes, are dysfunctional/broken on fundamental levels but seem to satisfy this hermetic set of aesthetic/design criteria that people within the UI design community can parse.

I don't think anyone in the UI community really understands why the old Xerox/PARC/MacOS/Windows paradigm worked...

OS X, Windows, Gnome, KDE are all breaking their interface metaphors right and left in ways which are inexplicable to the user.
posted by ennui.bz at 11:33 AM on August 31, 2011 [6 favorites]


jHarris: a) yes it's that important. b) If you're from Mac land, you're probably not actually aware of what focus follows mouse even is.
posted by smcameron at 11:34 AM on August 31, 2011


Care to explain a)why? and b)what it is in terms of linux?
posted by gofargogo at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2011


The most significant problem facing linux and open source software today is "design by committee". If they can overcome that

That's the thing with the open source community. There are some isolated pockets of "they", but mostly a whole lot of "me"'s.

Unity is an exception to the designed by committee rule, but it hasn't overwhelmingly won hearts and minds (I haven't used it and don't have an opinion.)
posted by Zed at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2011


My Linux descktop experience has been devolving as I've gotten older.

I used to have Gnome running with wobbly windows and 3D cube window switchers.

Now I run a tiling manager (i3) with everything running fullscreen and control as much as possible via the keyboard.
posted by PenDevil at 11:48 AM on August 31, 2011


LOLinux

The day of the operating system itself being a lock-in is pretty much gone.

Which is why UXP is so important. Linux people are arguing about window focus while Apple ships tens of millions of iOS devices that make windows obsolete. iOS already has 3x the market share of linux.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I run a tiling manager (i3) with everything running fullscreen

Anti-desktop for the win. On my netbook, I only start X about half the time.
posted by Zed at 11:55 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm actually pretty happy with the current state of Gnome. I use it all day at work and it generally stays out of my way and lets me do my work with a minimum of bouncy, flashy over-designed crap.
posted by octothorpe at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


iOS already has 3x the market share of linux.

That's really not fair. iOS ships on very desirable consumer hardware, so naturally, it's going to get the numbers if it's even half way functional. Hardware is important - after all, Android raced ahead at blinding speed as far as market share goes, and people argue that it's not nearly as polished as iOS. It's only partially about the OS. I wouldn't take market share as indicating relative merit or attraction apart from other factors, such as marketing and hardware.
posted by VikingSword at 11:57 AM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Now I run a tiling manager (i3) with everything running fullscreen and control as much as possible via the keyboard.

Anti-desktop for the win. On my netbook, I only start X about half the time.

Xmonad is in da hizzouse!

Seriously, windowing interfaces are so 1990s.... I hear the KDE vs GNOME discussions and I'm all "Whatevs..."
posted by mikelieman at 12:09 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


jHarris: a) yes it's that important. b) If you're from Mac land, you're probably not actually aware of what focus follows mouse even is.

I bet I wouldn't have heard of your favorite band either, harumph harumph.

TweakUI long had a option to raise windows on mouseover. I found that distracting when I tried turning it on. But I fail to see just having whatever field beneath the mouse be active, even if it doesn't raise the window, would be a change great enough to inspire loyalty. Care to fill us in?

Which is why UXP is so important. Linux people are arguing about window focus while Apple ships tens of millions of iOS devices that make windows obsolete. iOS already has 3x the market share of linux.

Untrue. Guess what Android is under the hood?
posted by JHarris at 12:27 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


(And if you think iOS makes Windows obsolete you obviously either don't use your computer for all that much or have jailbroken the darn thing.)
posted by JHarris at 12:28 PM on August 31, 2011


He said windows, not Windows (although I'd argue that both comments would be equally ridiculous).
posted by coolguymichael at 12:45 PM on August 31, 2011



Untrue. Guess what Android is under the hood?
posted by JHarris at 12:27 PM on August 31 [+] [!]


Hell, let's not pretend that Apple has never benefited from the *nix world.
The Mac vs Linux vs Windows battles are really overly simplistic and silly. Good things happen when idea collide.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait hold everything, does this mean that 2011 is the Year of Linux on the Desktop?
posted by silby at 12:59 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait hold everything, does this mean that 2011 is the Year of Linux on the Desktop?

No, more like the year of Desktop on the Linux.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:03 PM on August 31, 2011


My Linux descktop experience has been devolving as I've gotten older.

How true. I still miss my Enlightenment/Gnome combo from 1999.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:04 PM on August 31, 2011


I'm still waiting for desktop Linux to bring back the desktop.

And why can't an application for KDE3/Debian work on KDE4/Red Hat? And why haven't they figured out drag-and-drop application bundles yet? Christ.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:18 PM on August 31, 2011


That's really not fair.

It just isn't fair! It isn't fair that people want iPads and iPhones!

Untrue. Guess what Android is under the hood?

I stand corrected. Let's add up the numbers, since this site separates Android and Linux.

Mac 5.61%
iOS 3.00%
Linux 0.91%
Android 0.80%

So combined, that's 1.71% Wow, Linux finally broke 1% market penetration.

Now I know what you're going to say. These statistics are web server statistics that merely represent actual users doing real work. It does not represent sales figures like Samsung's channel stuffing of 2 Million Galaxy Tabs with minimal sell-through. It does not represent the fire sale of discontinued Linux-based WebOS devices from HP, etc.

The Linux community is trying to compete in the marketplace, but they are doomed to failure. They learned nothing from Steve Jobs. He finally figured out that if you can't win in the marketplace, you move the marketplace to somewhere you already won.
posted by charlie don't surf at 1:24 PM on August 31, 2011


"TweakUI long had a option to raise windows on mouseover. I found that distracting when I tried turning it on. But I fail to see just having whatever field beneath the mouse be active, even if it doesn't raise the window, would be a change great enough to inspire loyalty."

I only use focus follows mouse. It is much faster than any other method for switching windows when engaged in a multi-window task. Also I often type into one window while looking at another. for the window I am typing in, most of the time, all I need to see is the line I am typing, and for the (often overlapping) window I am looking at, I want to see the whole thing.
posted by idiopath at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2011



The Linux community is trying to compete in the marketplace, but they are doomed to failure. They learned nothing from Steve Jobs. He finally figured out that if you can't win in the marketplace, you move the marketplace to somewhere you already won.


The thing is, most of us don't choose our products based on market share.

But even if we did, it's a very typical argument, that under the surface it doesn't make a lot of sense. Linux is a technology, not a corporation like Apple or Microsoft. It's not a single entity, mandated to make money and increase market share, it's a technology.

If you want to bitch about the business practices and imperatives at Canonical or Red Hat, that would make more sense, but bitching about Linux failing to compete with Mac is like bitching about small block V8 engines failing to compete with General Motors.

As long as the technology is continuing to develop, and continuing to be used, it has value to somebody. That's the most meaningful metric if you're discussing the continued relevance of Linux in a broad sense.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:37 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


HURF DURF STEVE JOBS WON
posted by benzenedream at 1:39 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]



Mac 5.61%
iOS 3.00%
Linux 0.91%
Android 0.80%


And of course, OSX is basically a unix kernel, so we all know who's really winning. But if I have to put my money on a horse, I'm putting it on Assembly, that's where all the real programmers work anyway.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:43 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


And why can't an application for KDE3/Debian work on KDE4/Red Hat?

A bunch of the major distros are finally talking about this. There have been stabs at this for a long time, but none of them have ever taken off.
posted by Zed at 1:47 PM on August 31, 2011


Userbase size does not denote quality. GUIs are crap. Designed GUIs are walled garden crap.
posted by DU at 2:12 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


"I only use focus follows mouse. It is much faster than any other method for switching windows when engaged in a multi-window task. Also I often type into one window while looking at another."

Bet you shop at Whole Foods and ride a fixie too… ;-)
posted by Pinback at 2:30 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


The question is really has the Linux community produced anything with appeal outside of the Linux community? Unless we broadly expand the definition of what the "Linux Desktop" is the answer is clearly no. Why is that? The "Linux Desktop" by and large does not work well or at the very least doesn't work nearly as well as OSX or Windows 7/Vista/XP. This has always been my problem with Linux as a desktop OS, the idea of it (Open Vs. Closed) has always appealed to me way more than the execution. I think a lot of people feel this way.

Or as Fake Steve Jobs put it way more succinctly:
"...t I think Linus Tordalv started working on Linux back in 1991 when he was a high school student in his native Denmark. That’s nearly twenty years ago, and the shit still doesn’t run right. "
posted by bytewrite at 2:41 PM on August 31, 2011


Desktop/Mobile penetration is low, but I'd use it full time instead of often if certain desktop applications were available for it. The GUI is fine. I applaud all those who have contributed, individuals, groups, or corporations. Thank you!

Now in the non desktop space, Linux has been a godsend to us in terms of running an OS on hardware without license fees. I imagine it's a boon to many others the world over who use Internet technology. The idea of market share applied to a technology that is used in many ways in many different "markets" is pretty funny.
posted by juiceCake at 2:46 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question is really has the Linux community produced anything with appeal outside of the Linux community?

No true Scotsman likes it either.
posted by Zed at 2:47 PM on August 31, 2011 [3 favorites]




The question is really has the Linux community produced anything with appeal outside of the Linux community? Unless we broadly expand the definition of what the "Linux Desktop" is the answer is clearly no.


That's a bit of a tautology. If Linux is so great, then why do only people that use Linux use Linux!

Usage numbers have grown considerably since Linux's debut. Spectacularly. What's your point? Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it's dying.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:52 PM on August 31, 2011


If you want to bitch about the business practices and imperatives at Canonical or Red Hat, that would make more sense, but bitching about Linux failing to compete with Mac is like bitching about small block V8 engines failing to compete with General Motors.

No, you said it yourself, Linux is a technology, just as iOS is. It's more like the Steam Engine failing to compete with the Internal Combustion Engine. They're both piston engines. You can still power a locomotive or a whole factory with a steam engine. But today there are probably more gas powered lawn mowers than the number of steam engines ever built. And you'd prefer me to argue about the business practices and imperatives of steam engine builders. Okay, which do you think is technically superior and would have more usability and market appeal: a brass whistle on top of the steam engine, or a stainless steel whistle? If they standardized on the KDE brass whistle, could they now focus on efficiency improvements, or should we work on giving users options like coal fuel vs oil?
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:15 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question is really has the Linux community produced anything with appeal outside of the Linux community?

Are you trolling? Linux is on the top ten fastest supercomputers in the world. I would be surprised if Metafilter's servers are not Linux.
posted by aesacus at 3:21 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, these threads often come down to reading WRONG THINGS repeatedly, each of them adding to my blood pressure, until my circulatory system gushes forth into the comment box in a vivid arterial spray--

>That's really not fair.
It just isn't fair! It isn't fair that people want iPads and iPhones!

This is a gross oversimplification of a complex market, and you either know this and are trolling, or are being foolishly reductive, or don't have half a brain.

The iPhone hit a marketplace that was damn near starved of potential because of the terrible sloth and rapacity of the carriers, which was a great blight unto the land. That blight continues, but isn't as bad now as before. Apple did us all a great service in opening that market up to devices that could actually do things, and they deserved their great success in doing so. But Apple is not all sunshine and goodness, and they have shown themselves not opposed to the idea of arbitrary, freedom-limiting walls per se, just that they prefer to be the one charging admittance at the gate.

>Untrue. Guess what Android is under the hood?
I stand corrected. Let's add up the numbers, since this site separates Android and Linux.
Mac 5.61%
iOS 3.00%
Linux 0.91%
Android 0.80%


In fact, there are more systems (whatever those things might be) running Linux out there than this. Many routers run Linux under the hood, in the server space (which is valid to discuss, since we're not restricted to the desktop anymore) it's very strong, and many embedded devices run some version of Linux under the hood. It is even harder to accurately sum up the number of Linux kernels running out there than to compare consumer systems running based on web traffic statistics.

So combined, that's 1.71% Wow, Linux finally broke 1% market penetration.

I'm starting to think you have something personal against Linux, like it threatens a basic belief or something. Your dismissive arguing tactics are nearly Republican.

The Linux community is trying to compete in the marketplace, but they are doomed to failure. They learned nothing from Steve Jobs. He finally figured out that if you can't win in the marketplace, you move the marketplace to somewhere you already won.

You don't even have the battle framed right. Apple is trying to capture the smartphone market; Linux, if it can be said to be trying anything, is chasing something larger and harder to define. Although companies have invested in Linux and employ programmers to work on it, it is still untied to the fate of any one company. It doesn't have a business model. Gnome and KDE, Red Hat and Canonical could die tomorrow and Linux would persist.
posted by JHarris at 4:04 PM on August 31, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would be surprised if Metafilter's servers are not Linux.

Actually for some reason I thought MeFi was ColdFusion on IIS and SQL Server. But that might be a delusion.
posted by silby at 4:06 PM on August 31, 2011


Oh that may not have been entirely true since well before I joined but I guess we might still be running on Windows boxen?
posted by silby at 4:11 PM on August 31, 2011


Metafilter was running on a windows box after switch to Apache.
posted by Gary at 4:28 PM on August 31, 2011


You don't even have the battle framed right. Apple is trying to capture the smartphone market; Linux, if it can be said to be trying anything, is chasing something larger and harder to define.

Allow me to reframe. Apple is trying to capture the high ground in computing and give leadership to the entire industry. That high ground used to be computing in educational environments like schools and universities. Then it was corporate desktops. Now it's portable communication devices. Meanwhile, Linux (as represented in the OP that discusses KDE) is fighting on the desktop battleground of Win98 vs MacOS 9.

I'm starting to think you have something personal against Linux, like it threatens a basic belief or something.

Yes, I have some very specific beliefs, but not against Linux specifically. I merely believe that computers are too important to be left to computer geeks. It's like the old apocryphal quote from Henry Ford, "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." So you ask Linux customers what they want, and they say they want a better X11 & Enlightenment. That is the subject of this OP: Linux on the desktop as envisioned by a primary KDE developer.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:54 PM on August 31, 2011


So combined, that's 1.71% Wow, Linux finally broke 1% market penetration.

And by those numbers Mac and iOS are yet to break 9%, which makes them equally irrelevant next to the 90% market share Windows has. But then: "These statistics are web server statistics that merely represent actual users doing real work."
posted by markr at 5:09 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


More users equals better than
posted by DU at 6:21 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Linux (as represented in the OP that discusses KDE) is fighting on the desktop battleground of Win98 vs MacOS 9.

The window management/desktop Linux community is just one small part of the Linux ecosystem. I have a smartphone, a tablet, and a desktop, and I'm still a bit sad that there isn't a really competitive Linux desktop available for the sort of stuff I want to do. but Linux =/= desktop Linux.

I merely believe that computers are too important to be left to computer geeks. It's like the old apocryphal quote from Henry Ford, "If I'd asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." So you ask Linux customers what they want, and they say they want a better X11 & Enlightenment. That is the subject of this OP: Linux on the desktop as envisioned by a primary KDE developer.

Right, because everyone with a desktop is completely hostile to all non-desktop computing paradigms. I think the desktop is on the way out, but that's still going to be a 10 year process or so. So, what's your contribution to the future, besides snark?
posted by anigbrowl at 6:43 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you trolling?

Generally speaking, if you have to ask...
posted by brennen at 6:44 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apple had really terrific numbers back in the beginning of the desktop/home PC era, too. It remains to be seen whether they'll do better this time around, or whether they'll fall victim to the same cost pressures that drove users to lower-cost desktops than the early Apple and Macintosh systems.

Their business model requires pretty high per-unit margins to pay for expensive R&D, and it's not clear to me that those are sustainable in the long run. Pretty soon it's going to seem as ridiculous to pay $500 for a smartphone as it is to pay $3000 for a notebook computer or $6000 for a basic desktop-publishing setup. The plan seems to be to milk smartphones for all they're worth while jumping to tablets, and then presumably move to something else once the market starts to catch up and commodify that segment as well.

Linux seems like the mostly likely operating system for those generic-ish devices that will eventually take over each successive segment, probably running on cheap Chinese hardware, as prices decrease. It doesn't seem likely that Microsoft will corner the market again, and there aren't a ton of other serious contenders. But the market likes to make fools of people that make predictions, so it's really anyone's guess, but it seems naive to think that Apple's success is necessarily set in stone.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:50 PM on August 31, 2011


Linux seems like the mostly likely operating system for those generic-ish devices that will eventually take over each successive segment, probably running on cheap Chinese hardware, as prices decrease. It doesn't seem likely that Microsoft will corner the market again, and there aren't a ton of other serious contenders. But the market likes to make fools of people that make predictions, so it's really anyone's guess, but it seems naive to think that Apple's success is necessarily set in stone.

Well, Apple seems to have a lock on all the Chinese hardware suppliers, they have long term contracts and investments that assure them of lowest prices. So the iPad and iPhone are "cheap Chinese hardware," as long as you're talking low cost, not shoddy construction. And Tim Cook is the pioneer of computer industry supply chain management. These cost advantages extend to desktops too, since they are now being made out of tablet-like materials like LCDs and SSDs. But we shall see.

Yes, Linux has its place, from products like the Raspberry Pi to routers to cluster computing. I'm not saying it doesn't (with the exception of the desktop, where it is basically useless to anyone but elite geeks). Linux is not a leading edge technology. Hell, Android probably wouldn't even be feasible without Apple's contributions like WebKit, and Android has linked itself to 3rd party closed standards like Flash that basically give away a lot of control of the OS direction. We shall see where Linux goes, but if past history is any indication, it's going to spend a lot of time chasing its tail. I look forward to seeing the KDE vs. Gnome battle continue for another 15 years. Perhaps then it will be the Year of Linux on the Desktop.. if you can find any desktops.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:31 PM on August 31, 2011


The question is really has the Linux community produced anything with appeal outside of the Linux community?

Well, it produced Linux, and that appealed enough to me when I wasn't a member of the Linux community that I started using Linux. So ...
posted by kenko at 7:38 PM on August 31, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hell, Android probably wouldn't even be feasible without Apple's contributions like WebKit

Yeah, 'cause, like, WebKit totally has nothing to do with Linux as a platform.

Perhaps then it will be the Year of Linux on the Desktop

Sweet Christ on a crutch am I ever sick of this completely asinine meme.
posted by brennen at 8:15 PM on August 31, 2011


All right, all right, so that was a bit unnecessarily hostile. I should know better than to read these threads. Have fun y'all.
posted by brennen at 8:16 PM on August 31, 2011


Hell, Android probably wouldn't even be feasible without Apple's contributions like WebKit

Um, you do know that Webkit was derived from KDE's web browser libraries, right?
posted by octothorpe at 8:48 PM on August 31, 2011 [5 favorites]


Um, you do know that Webkit forked and rewrote most of KDE's web browser libraries, right? And the KHTML team didn't want to accept Apple's code, even though it was faster than theirs and passed the Acid2 test? And then you remember when KDE dumped KHTML and went with WebKit?
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:27 PM on August 31, 2011


And why haven't they figured out drag-and-drop application bundles yet?

Because it's a bad idea that breaks the entire purpose of shared libraries. And it's not any easier than using a modern Linux distro's package manager like zypper in some-random-application.

with the exception of the desktop, where it is basically useless to anyone but elite geeks

The millions of Linux desktop installs in governments, businesses, and schools prove you quite wrong on this count.
posted by cmonkey at 9:56 PM on August 31, 2011


Millions?

With ~1 Billion PCs worldwide and about 1% of desktops on Linux, that's only about 1 Million Linux Desktop PCs.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:36 PM on August 31, 2011


The 1% number has always been complete nonsense. The real number is closer to 10%.
posted by cmonkey at 1:21 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


charlie don't surf: "Um, you do know that Webkit forked and rewrote most of KDE's web browser libraries, right? And the KHTML team didn't want to accept Apple's code, even though it was faster than theirs and passed the Acid2 test? And then you remember when KDE dumped KHTML and went with WebKit?"

The point is that webkit wouldn't exist without the original work of Linux developers.
posted by octothorpe at 3:36 AM on September 1, 2011


Computers are too important to leave to computer geeks.

Huh.

Do you realize how much more difficult it is to use computers to produce new capabilities for end users than it is to use those capabilities? Geeks like Linux because it represents a space where considerations are made for the practicalities of development. At the moment, it's the only OS where that's really true. I don't think anyone wants to compete with Windows or iOS directly.

I'm typing this comment on my wife's iPad. It has taken me 2 minutes. Do you think this asinine paradigm will ever make IDEs obsolete?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:43 AM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


With ~1 Billion PCs worldwide and about 1% of desktops on Linux, that's only about 1 Million Linux Desktop PCs.

Um... isn't 1 million 0.1% of 1 billion? That's 10 million linux desktops by your figures?
posted by Francis at 4:44 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


TweakUI long had a option to raise windows on mouseover. I found that distracting when I tried turning it on. But I fail to see just having whatever field beneath the mouse be active, even if it doesn't raise the window, would be a change great enough to inspire loyalty. Care to fill us in?
posted by JHarris at 3:27 PM on August 31 [1 favorite +] [!]


The link in this early comment explained how 'autoraise' is really super annoying and 'autofocus' is something that people really find useful:

That the gnome and kde developers don't make "focus follows mouse" the default setting, or at least make it easy to select this behavior and that they even try to make this setting hard to find just pisses me off so extremely much that I don't really care what else they may ever have to say. (and if you don't know what I'm talking about here's a good rant about it.. And on preview, what DU said, don't follow apple, they get the focus follows mouse thing completely wrong too.
posted by smcameron at 2:09 PM on August 31 [5 favorites +] [!]

posted by xorry at 6:19 AM on September 1, 2011


charlie don't surf: "And the KHTML team didn't want to accept Apple's code, even though it was faster than theirs and passed the Acid2 test? "

Linus routinely rejects massive patches that add functionality if they don't play well with the goals and processes of the Linux kernel dev community. Now take a company like Apple, taking its baby steps (back then) towards becoming a member of an existing open source project. It should hardly be surprising that the motivations and attitudes of the teams may not be compatible.

An example - initial CSS3 support was already in KHTML, but Apple's forked codebase would have broken that if the KHTML team had merged its changes. It tooks years to iron out the differences (which incidentally included merging KHTML's CSS3 support into WebKit).
posted by vanar sena at 6:31 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I doubt Linus rejected any KHTML code, as such code doesn't belong in the Kernel. Other project maintainers may have rejected KHTML code.

I've seen a few years of these Linux flaming threads, and Linux must be winning. It used to be all about how Linux failed to correctly use some hardware, then it was about how large subsystem overhauls did not work without bugs and perfect functionality since day one...

Today, the best you can muster is the low marketshare.

The year of the Linux Desktop? Mine was 2006. Latecomer but warmly welcomed.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:25 AM on September 1, 2011


CautionToTheWind: "I doubt Linus rejected any KHTML code, as such code doesn't belong in the Kernel. Other project maintainers may have rejected KHTML code."

I apologize for not being clearer. It was a parallel example of another open source project that rejects patches that don't fit the process and goals of the team.
posted by vanar sena at 8:31 AM on September 1, 2011


CautionToTheWind: "It used to be all about how Linux failed to correctly use some hardware"

All other concerns aside, as far as desktop linux goes this is still the biggest problem. Comparing over the last ten years, it's not too much of an exaggeration to say the drivers are in worse shape.

Ten years ago we were pleased when there was fast 2D and if you were lucky you could run Quake 3. Now everything is moving to OpenGL, people have multiple monitors, hot-switchable video cards from different vendors in the same machine (some with their own audio chips for HDMI) and hardware-accelerated video actually matters because CPUs can't keep up with HD.

There are realistically only three brand choices for video cards, and the drivers for all are broken in different ways, both the open source and the closed source versions. The efforts of the Xorg teams are praise-worthy, but it will be a while before they have the infrastructure in place to quickly respond to the constant stream of new video cards with decent drivers and enough features that users don't complain.
posted by vanar sena at 9:09 AM on September 1, 2011


Um... isn't 1 million 0.1% of 1 billion? That's 10 million linux desktops by your figures?

One percent (one hundredth) of a billion is a million. We are not using the British billion here, but the commonly accepted billion. There is no way there are 10 million linux desktops. If that were so, we'd see way more than 1% usage on web surveys. Unless you're arguing that only 10% of linux desktop computers are connected to the internet.

The point is that webkit wouldn't exist without the original work of Linux developers.

The point is that WebKit wouldn't exist without someone understanding how bad KHTML was and deciding it needed to be completely rewritten.

The year of the Linux Desktop? Mine was 2006. Latecomer but warmly welcomed.

My first desktop install was around 1995, I think it was on kernel 1.23 or something. I got tired of the mouse focus and Gnome vs. KDE arguments 15 years ago. I have long since moved on.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:34 AM on September 1, 2011


One percent (one hundredth) of a billion is a million. We are not using the British billion here, but the commonly accepted billion.

$ expr 1000000000 / 100
10000000
posted by octothorpe at 9:46 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


one billion = 109
one million = 106
one million divided by one billion is therefore 10-3 = .001 = 0.1%
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:47 AM on September 1, 2011


Now the billion (MM) is called "British billion" and the american billion (KM) is called "the commonly accepted billion"?

It is exactly this kind of thinking that sunk your tax code and country.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:56 AM on September 1, 2011


charlie don't surf: "The point is that WebKit wouldn't exist without someone understanding how bad KHTML was and deciding it needed to be completely rewritten."

You are incorrect.
posted by vanar sena at 9:56 AM on September 1, 2011


Maybe he is thinking of short and long scale numbers. Except that in short scale a billion is 1,000,000,000 which is how we have been using it in this thread and it means there are 10 million Linux users.

In long scale a billion is 1,000,000,000,000 which would be 10,000 million Linux users.
posted by Gary at 10:22 AM on September 1, 2011


There is no way there are 10 million linux desktops

20 million for Ubuntu
14+ million for Fedora
1+ million of unique hits per week for openSUSE
posted by fader at 1:13 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


One percent (one hundredth) of a billion is a million. We are not using the British billion here, but the commonly accepted billion.

Great Scott! We've been visited by a repesentative of...the Barbarian Innumerati!
posted by anigbrowl at 3:48 PM on September 1, 2011


OK, I'll cop to it, I miscalculated. Hell, I learned math in the days of the slide rule, I was always fucking up the exponent and moving the decimal point to the wrong spot.

But now this alleged desktop install population:

20 million for Ubuntu

20 million installs |= 20 million desktop users. How many of those were routers, servers, and other invisible infrastructure computers? Or even reinstalls?

But that doesn't matter. You keep working on those 35 Million alleged desktops for the 3 combined big distros. Meanwhile, Apple will ship 65 million iPads this year alone. None of those iPad users will ever have to worry about whether to use Gnome or KDE. Most of them will never even wonder why they don't have any windows in their GUI, let alone a window manager.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:04 PM on September 1, 2011


HURF DURF IPADS RULE
posted by benzenedream at 10:55 PM on September 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yanno, I have a couple of tablets here, and they're awesome. I can do cool artsy stuff in Autodesk sketchbook, I can type on glass, and the device weigh less than a single one of my textbooks. To some extent my faithful tower PC is transitioning towards being a document/VPN server while I sit in another room using the tablet. Things will get even more interesting when I integrate it with the TV and start using tablet as a control service.

On the other hand, I've seen all this before, because I started with computers back in the 1980s with things that one (count it) kilobyte of RAM and where you loaded programs from a cassette tape. I can get with the task-switching approach to multitasking because I happily used Desqview for several years, and am equally at home using a terminal switcher as my window manager.

But there are certain benefits to fully multitasking windowed desktops. There are times when I've got Photoshop, Premiere, after Effects, and Audition open at the same time, or several different pdf files over here and my word processor over there and maybe a spreadsheet or diagram editor. Most computer users consume media or services, but the more ubiquitous computers become the more work will be done with them, and a lot of tasks need some kind of workstation, but for raw processing power and for the flexibility that a full desktop can afford.

There was also a time when I was sure that digital watches would take over the world, because they tell you the exact time and they can be programmed and what-all else. Now they look retro.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:13 AM on September 2, 2011


None of those iPad users will ever have to worry about whether to use Gnome or KDE. Most of them will never even wonder why they don't have any windows in their GUI, let alone a window manager.

Well, your math skills may be rusty, but your non-sequitur skills are in fine form.
posted by cmonkey at 3:21 AM on September 2, 2011


Only air-headed fashion monkeys wear analog watches. :-P
posted by Goofyy at 4:10 AM on September 2, 2011


OMG! iPad is taking over the computing world!?

ROTFLMAO!

iPads are beautiful and useful. For many people, I'm sure they could be all the computer someone needs. There's a world full of content creators who also aren't going to be replacing their desktop with a tablet any time soon.

And, seriously. Apple? Oh please. Apple can't even make iTunes function properly with my Macbook and iPhone. Someday, the magic is going to wear out, and folks will stop ignoring the irritations, great and small. (seriously, no error report, but still know at least 1 CD in my library refuses to register in iTunes, even though hundreds of others from the exact same location are there just fine).

Shiny! I like shiny! Yes indeed, I have an iPhone, and I'm anxiously awaiting the next one to come out so I can replace it. Best phone I've ever had. Useful, too. And I have an iPad, too. Fun thing, very pretty, quite useful. I love having such a variety of maps available easily, and reading material. I've even enjoyed reading Metafilter on the train. (I rarely carry a laptop, except when travelling). But it's a toy, for me. (that it could be an extremely valuable tool, to some, is clear).

So, KDE and Gnome, getting together for a powwow. Good idea. I'd like some Gnome to rub off onto the KDE folks, myself. KDE gets in my way, mores the pity. I had expected to like it, and surprised myself by running back to Gnome after a month.
posted by Goofyy at 4:34 AM on September 2, 2011


20 million installs |= 20 million desktop users. How many of those were routers, servers, and other invisible infrastructure computers? Or even reinstalls?

Not 20 million installs, 20 million users. Ubuntu is primarily a desktop OS -- if anyone is using it on a router I'll be quite surprised, as there are better Linux distributions to use as a base for that sort of application. (There is a server version but the desktop remains the primary focus and most popular version.)

Disclaimer: I work for Canonical, the corporate entity backing Ubuntu. I've seen the data that goes into the "20 million" number but am unfortunately prohibited from sharing it. (I and many others would love to publish it, but it's not my call and I like my job.) So believe it or not as you will. We're quite confident (and conservative) in what we *do* say publicly though.

Meanwhile, Apple will ship 65 million iPads this year alone.

Bully for Apple, I guess? I'm not sure what that has to do with this discussion but it's a nice bit of derailing.

It seems like any success for Linux is a threat to you but I'm not sure why. Nobody's going to take away your iPad or force you to use some misguided 1990s conception of what Linux is. I'm glad there's choice and variety in the world, personally.
posted by fader at 6:17 AM on September 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


The point is that WebKit wouldn't exist without someone understanding how bad KHTML was and deciding it needed to be completely rewritten.

If you were writing an html rendering engine, why would you decide that the thing to do is to completely rewrite someone else's engine if it's awful? If it's that bad, what do you gain from starting with it?
posted by kenko at 9:23 AM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


kenko: "If you were writing an html rendering engine, why would you decide that the thing to do is to completely rewrite someone else's engine if it's awful? If it's that bad, what do you gain from starting with it?"

As charlie hasn't offered anything more than speculation to back up his throwaway assertion, I think it might help if some basic info from a KHTML dev - and some from Steve Jobs and the Safari team - is injected into the record for posterity.
posted by vanar sena at 10:53 AM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


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