Critical Missions

Minutes ago, I watched a documentary on National Geographic, the back ends of the FIFA world cup in 2005. One of the vignettes was a professional photographer taking shots from the sidelines. At a 15 minute break he headed to the Press Room to send pictures to his client. He had been using that other OS and shut it down in the usual way but when he got back to it the thing was still alive showing “that other OS is shutting down”. He finally had to cut power to restart it.

After composing some text, he tried to upload his work. After several failures, he had to abandon his attempt to get a jump on competition and returned to the game 15 minutes late.

Fans of that other OS can tell the world how reliable and high-performing that other OS is but this scene is more like my experience. That other OS is:

  • a poor performer,
  • fails both routinely and randomly, sometimes when you need it most, and
  • you have to hold its hands instead of it doing its thing smoothly and unobtrusively.

Now, I know GNU/Linux is not perfect, but once installed in a system, you are much less likely to have such annoyances and failures. GNU/Linux is a real OS, managing your resources and working for you, not against you.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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60 Responses to Critical Missions

  1. Talk about a “rare” problem, going back in time, between releases. 😉

    –lzma filter the archive through xz

    xz is not on my radar.
    It’s not listed here.

    In fact, in Debian it is shipped in xz-utils:
    dpkg -S /usr/bin/xz
    xz-utils: /usr/bin/xz

    dpkg -s xz-utils
    Description: XZ-format compression utilities
    XZ is the successor to the Lempel-Ziv/Markov-chain Algorithm
    compression format, which provides memory-hungry but powerful
    compression (often better than bzip2) and fast, easy decompression.
    .
    This package provides the command line tools for working with XZ
    compression, including xz, unxz, xzcat, xzgrep, and so on. They can
    also handle the older LZMA format, and if invoked via appropriate
    symlinks will emulate the behavior of the commands in the lzma
    package.
    .
    The XZ format is similar to the older LZMA format but includes some
    improvements for general use:
    .
    * ‘file’ magic for detecting XZ files;
    * crc64 data integrity check;
    * limited random-access reading support;
    * improved support for multithreading (not used in xz-utils);
    * support for flushing the encoder.

    Other distros use it in their packaging.

    No relevant bug reports are seen in Debian GNU/Linux.

  2. It’s nothing to do with spiritualism:
    Amen A`men”, v. t.
    To say Amen to; to sanction fully.
    [1913 Webster]

  3. Geepa Grave says:

    So many amens, so spiritual moods around here… Blessed are the believers.

  4. oldman says:

    Among the blessings that I hold dear are the ability to have the choice to use what I consider the best tool for the job, be it Commercial or FOSS, running on Linux and Windows.

  5. Amen. There are so many blessings.

  6. oe says:

    “Conversion has huge benefits like avoiding Office licensing fees forever. That saves a huge bundle in the long run and the cost is little. Munich managed that conversion process under budget.”

    You did forget a biggie which is perpetual access to your documents by levering a published and open document format. Its sure is nice to be able to open documents made a decade ago with no fuss and no worry.

    Things I have noticed since migrating to work computers with GNU/Linux as A MERE USER (e.g I want to get my own job done and NOT hassle with IT):

    1) Admin support is a lot quicker and more agile, an support from the help desk is through the wire. Phone calls and 5 minutes and you’re done on linux (and OSX for that matter). Windows your lucky to get a turn time in a day, 2-3 is more typical. Remote support can be don but often fails and they come to you.

    2) I can suspend the Linux machines at the end of the workday with all windows and apps open, and still get patches and updates when it comes up, Policy allows this as the OS can maintain a secure state in this mode of usage. Can’t do that on the other OS as OS and even some apps (Adobe for one) require reboots, you have to close all apps and reboot as per policy at the end of the workday. Incidently, at home, warm suspend I could never get to work with Windows,…it isn’t flawaless on Linux either at least I have had some good successes.

    3) My excuse to brew coffee and engage in water cooler talk in the morning went away. CentOS and CAELinux are up from a cold boot in 60 seconds, less than 10 from suspended state, to ready for action. Logging in on Vista and Vista-7 is two minutes from login screen to useful (responsive) desktop.

    4) User space binaries,…until portable apps for windows came along (http://portableapps.com/) and discounting DOS apps there was no way to run “workarounds” like a print to PDF function to save on trees OR aviod buying full Adobe Arcobat for just this function. Linux and UNIX the user could always compile and run stuff in user-space….

    5) eee’s run Matlab 2010 (when I was still a student) really well with UNR (Ubuntu Netbook Remix). Trying to do the same on the exact same hardware before “paving over” with the (pre-installed) WinXP was an exercise in futility.

    6) You know all those fancy volume, one-touch widget keys, multimedia run/play/puase/stop keys. Got used for them to not working for YEARS as once you wipe and re-ninstall windows to either get rid of crapware, or get rid of registry rot and/or malware they never worked again…unless you used the OEM (read: crapware laden) restore CD. What a suprise when, by accident one day I found in most linux distro releases…they work!

    7) Its seems that on a Linux CD you get an OS and a lot of industrial strength apps (Office Suites, Image editing software (GIMP), and more). Meanwhile on the two main commercial alternatives on a whole DVD you get just an OS with some truly-gimped applets…that’s it.

    8) Niceties that are just there in the GUI’s (KDE/Gnome), one button screengrab to PNG via the PrintScreen, drag and drop text to a file, and others.

    9) What you learned 15 years ago on the backend terminal scripting, good for automating numerical run jobs and doing parametric variational solver runs…is still useful today…the knowledge goalposts to be productive doesn’t change for changes sake.

  7. oldman says:

    “The old machine runs a subset of a new release just fine.”

    Again, irrelevant. My point was that it can no more run a current linux desktop config than it can windows 7.

  8. The old machine runs a subset of a new release just fine. The modularity of GNU/Linux allows an installation of just a few hundred MB of code to make a very fine thin client. I can run new software on an old PC that way. Last year, I installed an old release of RedHat because the new software would not fit in 16MB on that 15 year old machine but it did not make a decent thin client only because of video resolution and a 10 mbit/s NIC. The 12 year old software ran well on it.

  9. People are not “agreeing” to buy that other OS when they need a PC, lack the know-how to install an OS and all they see on shelves is that other OS.

  10. oldman says:

    “Not so. As I demonstrated in my video, one can use an old machine as a thin client installing little more than the OS and X and run the application on a newer machine with better performance than that other OS can give on the usual desktop. ”

    But the bottom line is that the old machine is just as incapable of running the “modern” distribution as it would be windows 7. Your kludge does nothing to change this fact.

  11. Contrarian says:

    “There was no free market in operating systems for many years and that persists even after M$ has improved their product and OEMs now produce some alternative products.”

    I think that is the nature of the beast. There was a lot of competition in the early days and Apple, IBM, and Radio Shack were competing with one another and with the hobby market S-100 bus products. Over time, the IBM PC won although when it did, the clone makers could buy MS-DOS and be compatible with the PC-DOS sold by IBM. Both were made by Microsoft, so Microsoft had the inside track regadless of which clone maker won. I wonder if things would have been much different if Microsoft had not sold to everyone and had been exclusive to IBM. If there were no clones, Apple and Radio Shack would probably have done a lot better.

    Now that all the dust has settled, though, it is clear that PCs are pretty much tied to Windows. So much software exists and is being used that it would be impossible to make much of a change as long as computing is done with PCs the way that is has been for the past two decades.

    I think that, over a fairly long time, a lot of things done with PCs will be done with a batch of devices that collectively replace the PC such as smart phones, tablets, and even netbooks made out of something other than Intel chips. I don’t think that will happen all that soon, though. With all the smart phones and feature phones in the world, they still don’t seem to show up all that much on wev use statistics. Of course those statistics don’t measure the traffic created on mail services or sites that service phone or tablet apps directly, so the actual use may be a lot higher.

    I don’t think that it matters very much how all this came to be. After all the trials, there is nothing that was actually illegal and needed to be put right. Instead, there is a watchdog committee that is still in place as far as I know, checking all the deals that Microsoft does with OEMs to make sure that no laws are being broken.

    If someone has a better solution to something, there is nothing but hard work in the way of selling it to the public. The OEMs have shown a willingness to use Linux or any other OS if it makes sense to them. Dell and HP have offered Ubuntu pre-installs, I think, and it looks like Asus is going to do something similar. It is far into the new future to keep blaming Microsoft for anything that doesn’t take hold with consumers. New ideas have a chance but they need a lot of work to get people to agree.

  12. oldman wrote, “your average currently shipping full blown version of desktop Linux doesnt perform well on older equipment either.”

    Not so. As I demonstrated in my video, one can use an old machine as a thin client installing little more than the OS and X and run the application on a newer machine with better performance than that other OS can give on the usual desktop. That should be the default manner of delivering IT to clients for about 80% of users. It’s faster and cheaper.

  13. oldman says:

    “Even if that other OS were perfect, it is still a poor buy based on price/performance. The monopoly allowed that to happen.”

    Nope. What allowed it to happen was the large body of applications written for microsoft OS’s by independent ISV’s, Applications that people began to use and which they probably continue to use to this day. Applications that people are satisfied enough with that if the “performance” of a particular application ever becomes an issue, they just throw more hardware at to make the problems go away.

    The fact that Windows 7 OS may not be supported on under-provisioned old hardware that you seem to think we should want to run doesnt not make it less well performing. your average currently shipping full blown version of desktop Linux doesnt perform well on older equipment either.

  14. The reality of the situation was that M$ had a monopoly on retail sales and it did not matter that M$ sold crap. It worked somewhat as advertised so people bought it just like laundry detergent. There was no free market in operating systems for many years and that persists even after M$ has improved their product and OEMs now produce some alternative products. The consumers and the retailers are locked in to the habit. Even if that other OS were perfect, it is still a poor buy based on price/performance. The monopoly allowed that to happen. M$ started out charging $20 or so out of a $2000 PC. Now they charge $100+ when PCs are available for less than $300 and the OS is only a little better than what it was in the height of monopoly. That is not sustainable. It’s just a matter of whether it is one year or three to cause M$ to compete on price/performance everywhere. So far it is not competing in retail spaces in Canada.

  15. Richard Chapman says:

    Linux “bug”, your pulse audio gets borked.

    Windows “bug” your bank account gets clean out.

    Both require the require a visit from the neighborhood geek to repair. I am much happier learning to work with the GNU/Linux shortcomings than to take my chances with Microsoft.

  16. oldman says:

    “The slightest fault of that other OS is embedded in many thousands of faults that have caused us grief over decades.”

    How relevant do you really think that your grudges against now obsolete versions of the windows desktop really are at this point Pog? Your 50000 bug comment? Which version of Windows does that refer to. It certainly not windows 7!

    It has already been pointed out that were microsoft truly as bad as you have described, they would have been out of business long ago. The reality of the situation is that plenty of people who have not been caused anywhere near the grief that describe by windows, microsoft products, or any ISV’s products for that matter. This being the case, it seems to me that you are going to have a hard time getting very many people to buy into this view of the world.

  17. Vista was extensively beta-tested and M$ still released it.

  18. Contrarian says:

    That seems a little extreme to me. There is no argument that Windows has bugs, but there is nothing in the past few years that seems so horrible.

    Over the years, Windows has always had some issues, but nothing so terrible that people wanted to use something else to the extent that they created a demand that any OEM considered to be worth satisfying.

    I think the proof of the pudding, so to speak, is, as is said, in the eating and personal computers have gone from a curiosity to a commodity in the time that they have mostly been available with nothing other than Microsoft OS. I don’t believe that this tremendous growth could be sustained over such a long period of time if customers were not fundamentally satisfied with the products being purchased.

    Hindsight is always much more accurate than what is seen looking forward. If everyone knew in 2000 what they now know in 2011, there is no doubt that Windows 2K would have been a far better product than it was. If Microsoft had some crystal ball to tell them that Vista would irritate a lot of customers, it would not have been released.

  19. The slightest fault of that other OS is embedded in many thousands of faults that have caused us grief over decades. The slightest fault of GNU/Linux is an isolated event usually dealt with quickly and openly. That other OS has shipped with 50K bugs and no security whatsoever. Damn them to Hell.

  20. Linux Apostate says:

    “Even if true”? http://code.google.com/p/wkhtmltopdf/issues/detail?id=413

    Changing parts of Linux is possible but often impractical. This is why we all use distributions instead of building it all from scratch ourselves. We rely on the distributions to not suck, because going against the distribution is very difficult and causes worse problems down the line.

    If you held Linux to the standard you hold Windows to, then it would come off really badly. The slightest fault in Windows is enough to damn it forever, whereas even quite serious problems in Linux like broken sound after a system update are just something to be brushed off.

  21. Even if true, in GNU/Linux one can change any component of the system legally and with that other OS, nothing M$ supplies may be changed according to the EULA…

  22. Well, GNU/Linux ran on them just fine. Last year, I put GNU/Linux on a 15 year old PC and it was a lot of work but an old RedHat release ran on it just fine.

  23. Linux Apostate says:

    “People who use GNU/Linux encounter all sorts of bizarre problems, many of which go unresolved. Of course, you never hear about these problems on advocacy themed sites such as this one. Rather you have to go looking around in web based help forums, IRC chartrooms, and Usenet.”

    Exactly, Linux has plenty of annoying quirks. But advocates always assume these are consequences of a particular version or distribution, and not generally representative of Linux. If they would be honest about it, they would apply that sort of analysis to Windows too. Maybe the reporter’s laptop didn’t work properly because it was using an old version or bad drivers… that is what we would say if it was Linux.

    Yesterday’s Linux annoyance – rebooting Debian 6.0 with the new kernel and discovering that Alsa has reordered my sound cards so on-board sound is now the default. No way to change that default, so I solved it by blacklisting the on-board chipset in /etc/modprobe.d. It was difficult to find this solution because the GNOME software only knows about Pulseaudio, and Pulseaudio doesn’t seem to have any capability to configure Alsa. So the configuration GUI takes me down a frustrating blind alley.

    Tuesday’s Linux annoyance – discovering that archives created with “tar –lzma” on Debian 6.0 can’t be extracted with the same command on Debian 5.0. The file format has been changed, the error message is not helpful.

    In both cases I am lucky that I didn’t somehow depend on correct operation to get something done quickly. But we hold our systems to a perfect standard and only notice the bad things. I don’t blame Linux for any of these problems, although the “freetards” who maintain Debian and tar are responsible for the bad design decisions and/or lack of testing. The point is that it’s wrong to hold either Linux or Windows to a perfect standard because disappointment is inevitable. There are always bugs; plan for them!

  24. Linux Apostate says:

    “I and people like me actually believed PCs were faulty.”

    Sometimes they were! Back in the Win3.1/Win95 era it was quite common for cheap motherboards and cheap memory to be faulty. Not so faulty that Windows wouldn’t boot, but faulty enough that it was very unreliable. I wish I had understood this at the time, since I would then have been able to give the people I knew some better advice (Memtest!). Since then, the cheap hardware makers have got it together and things have improved, luckily for us all.

  25. In the video, the photographer had left his notebook in the press-room so he could get the jump on the competition by shipping images at half-time. Instead he lost 15 minutes on the field… The video is not on-line as far as I know. I watched it on National Geographic cable.

  26. Yonah says:

    I would hardly call some unknown PC sitting in a press room a “mission critical” machine. Likely it was an old machine with no real administrator to speak of. With no source article to examine it’s hard to know what really happened.

    People who use GNU/Linux encounter all sorts of bizarre problems, many of which go unresolved. Of course, you never hear about these problems on advocacy themed sites such as this one. Rather you have to go looking around in web based help forums, IRC chartrooms, and Usenet.

    I’ve used Windows from 95 on up to 7. Daily blue screens? Never happened to me personally, but I did see that back when I worked as a repair tech. That was always a sign of either bad hardware or a seriously buggy driver. Blaming Microsoft is the easiest thing to do, but rarely the most technical accurate.

  27. Contrarian says:

    With a billion Windows installations in service, a million people with problems only amount to .1% and if the number of Linux users were only 1%, that would make room for 10 million Linux users who might have had the same experience with Windows. But if you fire a shotgun down a crowded street of users, you will likely not hit a single person with such problems or who has converted to Linux.

    Nothing is happening that would change these results.

    As to Microsoft giving the OS away to stave off Linux use on netbooks, that may well be true, but it is going to happen again and again. Microsoft is apparently giving their Phone 7 OS away to get Nokia to base their smart phones on it. Maybe that will make Nokia the loss leader of choice for the “free” kind of phone that comes with a contract for service.

    I think there is even some Acer or Asus tablet with Windows on it, too.

  28. Google is your friend. Look for BSOD, freeze, crash and Vista. You will find lots of hits and I did not make them.

    Personal experiences with various versions: 3.1 would often but not alway crash when I saved a file or printed. Like a Pavlovian dog I became trained to accept this behaviour. I and people like me actually believed PCs were faulty. This shifted the blame to hardware makers instead of M$. Even today I have things autosaving every few minutes as a hangover from those bad old days.

    With Lose ’95, I have seen many machines that had at least one BSOD daily. These were factory-installed brand-named machines.

    With Lose ’98 I learned specific things that could crash it in a few minutes on demand: open Opera or IE and run Office. Open a few windows and the thing would run out of resources and crash with no way to recover.

    With 2000 it was harder to kill. Basically if you used it long enough it died unexpectedly. I don’t know why but it seemed like it wore out its bits or something.

    With XP when it was new the thing would die daily. You could open lots of windows and it would slow down but not die. When you closed windows after that it would die promptly. People pussy-footed around trying not to break it so they could get things done. By about SP2, it was much improved but so much time and energy and money had been wasted in those several years of terrible IT.

    Then came the malware.

    Fortunately I have only used Vista a couple of times in its early years. It was slow, terribly slow even on a powerful system. Remember “the long goodbye” and other new adventures in computer science? I think that was one of the few successful innovations in M$’s history. It finally shook the faith of most users that I knew.

    I have used “7” several times. It is slow as molasses on hardware where GNU/Linux flew, new machines with great hardware. I have even manage to see a few “blackscreens”. Changing the colour of the failure does not persuade me it is any better.

    If 1000 developers at Debian GNU/Linux can crank out nice releases every two years and give it away for $0 I would expect M$ could do a magnificent job with all the resources available but they had a poor design from the beginning and each rewrite since has been seriously flawed one way or another. M$ just does not know how to make an OS. The Geeks at kernel.org and other FLOSS projects do.

  29. M$ practically gave away XP for free on netbooks. When retailers were used to selling XP on netbooks, they were open to selling “7” on netbooks and would not look at GNU/Linux again. It’s called “positioning the competition” on page 3 of “Messing with Competition” First ed.

  30. Contrarian says:

    “BSODs, re-re-reboots, malware… I don’t have to do anything like that with GNU/Linux”

    A big part of my problem with that is that I have not had anything like that with Windows either. All of the Linux advocates talk about such things, but I have not had any such experiences since the days of Windows 3.1. I think that if it were so blatant, people would have made a change years ago and OEMs would be featuring such stability in their own ads. But that is not happening and that alone is reasonable proof that the problem is not so widespread.

    I mostly leave my home computer on all of the time and I just hibernate my laptop when I am done using it. It is essentially instant-on when used in that way and the desktop is “always on”. I know that my friends and neighbors pretty much do the same, so the booting is not an issue.

  31. Contrarian says:

    “GNU/Linux sold very well until M$ made an exclusive deal with OEMs.”

    I didn’t pay such extensive attention to the early netbooks, but it seems to me that they did not become very commonplace until they were available with Windows and being sold as a low-price substitute for a bigger laptop. That they would have been Linux without Microsoft’s doing a deal with the OEMs can be argued, I think, but even if they could, what would prevent Microsoft from continuing to “do a deal” in the future?

    For that matter, it seems to me that they have some sort of deal with Nokia already. What is likely to be any different when all is said and done?

  32. Nope. That other OS on equal terms is still more of a hassle: BSODs, re-re-reboots, malware… I don’t have to do anything like that with GNU/Linux. Some say the BSODs are all third-party/driver problems but why on a fairly stock machine do they get so screwed up. We are talking about machines installed with that other OS in the factory with all drivers for the motherboard installed and yet they still fail to boot or BSOD. That’s crazy. How is anyone to fix that?

    The previous-to-last time I struggled to keep that other OS going I had a lab of 24 XP machines in a room with serveral motherboards and several mice versions. It was freaky trying to keep 20 machines running. When I dropped in the number working would slide to about 14 on a good day. I put in GNU/Linux, one installation that worked on all the machines and it ran for a month with no machine failing to operate. I did not have to install special drivers for any but the few with 4MB video cards (old, eh?). They netbooted a single image and all I had to do was tweak the video configurations on a few machines. The lab went from high-maintenance to nothing but resetting passwords in a weekend.

  33. oldman says:

    “I have migrated many systems and if you start with the understanding that a computer can do anything then all problems are soluble”

    You have also been dealing with computing environments that were ill maintained and ill provisioned, and with users who were computer indifferent and thus open to solutions that just worked better than what they have. I will bet good money that were you to have been in an environment where people were computer literate in windows and windows applications and who also were leveraging windows spacific applications, your offers of improving their IT with Linux would have been far less warmly received, if not outright dismissed.

    The fact of the matter is, that anyone who was as sophisticated in their use of windows as you are of linux could have just as easily have come in and cleaned up the environment and left windows in place.

  34. I have migrated many systems and if you start with the understanding that a computer can do anything then all problems are soluble. The last conversion of documents that I did was reports cards with my last employer. It took 30 minutes to replace each report form that was in an obsolete file format. They could not be used even on some of our XP machines because the original CD for installing the programme was lost. Munich had 300 such forms to replace and did it in style. What mistakes? They planned everything out in detail and did it.

  35. Nevertheless netbooks with GNU/Linux sold out around the world and ASUS had to redouble production several times to catch up. GNU/Linux sold very well until M$ made an exclusive deal with OEMs.

  36. Contrarian says:

    “Conversion is not “risky”.”

    Easy for you to say, but the decision is most likely to be a top management or owner decision to make and it is not all that simple.

    The risk would be in disruption to a company’s operations and business document continuity during the period of change and also for any archival retrieval. IT expenses at most successful companies are well established as well and these businesses are in business to sell some product or service and are not in business to save money on operations. If they are successful, they are paying their bills and will not want to change anything that doesn’t increase their business. They are not so defensive about expenses as you want them to be.

    Linux and OO have had their best success where the using organization has not been so involved in growing a business. This is most likely to be the case with public service organizations such as schools or governments. Munich government is a service that the citizens had to have and reducing expenses was a useful idea. As I remember the facts here, they actually contracted with some consultant/vendor to do the conversions at a higher price than Microsoft had offered in the final negotiation for the same thing. But that was years ago and I have seen where they are still a long way from being finished and have given up on any total replacement.

    The litany of Munich’s mistakes would definitely scare off most business managers who contemplated anything similar merely to save some IT money. Particularly if the business wasn’t in desperate straits.

  37. Contrarian says:

    “If retail stores offered GNU/Linux people buy it as we saw with netbooks and now smart thingies.”

    A difference of opinion here, no doubt. Netbooks, when they first came out, were sold as very low price and very portable computers that you could carry around for lightweight tasks such as internet browsing and reading email. Even then, they suffered from an inability to do other “computer” things and were not the high volume sales item that they became once they were equipped with a compatible Windows version. Netbook sales have suffered somewhat recently due to people actually using smart phones and tablets instead.

    As I recall, there were a lot of returns made for the early netbooks due to people not being initially aware that they were not compatible with existing Windows programs, too.

    I think that a big store would have to be fairly proactive in telling a customer that a new computer with Linux had to be used differently than their old computer and would not be able to use their old programs. Once they got done with that, the customer would most likely opt for the Windows product instead, not wanting to go through the learning process.

  38. It matters that folks can live without the product. Folks can also use LibreOffice to do what needs to be done. Conversion is not “risky”. Conversion has huge benefits like avoiding Office licensing fees forever. That saves a huge bundle in the long run and the cost is little. Munich managed that conversion process under budget.

    The original reason for SUN to get into StarOffice was that one round of licensing fees was going to be more than the cost of buying the company that produced StarOffice. Imagine that effect on a global scale. It’s a lot of money saved, $billions per quarter.

  39. Contrarian says:

    “they still don’t sell nearly as many Office licences as that other OS”

    I agree with you on that point, but I do not see where it has any significance. Microsoft has a great business in MS Office products and makes almost as much money from it as they do with Windows. MS Office is sold more to corporations than to individuals although they added the “home” version years ago to let people who were poaching a copy from their workplace soothe their conscience and give their kids a chance to become adept at what was being used almost everywhere where people were being paid to use a computer during the day.

    With Facebook, Twitter, and forums like yours here, the home/individual user doesn’t have much of a need for MS Office and can use the free reader program or, more likely, the free Adobe reader. They don’t need to do much more than that.

    Companies, I think, all get a pretty good discount from Microsoft for MS Office site licenses and they have been using MS Office for so long that they are not very keen on switching to something like OO just to save a little money when the conversion is so risky. Look at the slow and agonizing process that governments and schools have gone through when they tried to do the same thing. Munich comes to mind where they have taken years to switch from MS Office to OO and still have to have a bunch of MS Office installations to do business.

  40. Contrarian wrote, “people perceive that it is necessary to meet their product useage needs”

    Nope. Folks walk into a retail store and buy what is on the shelves. They are not perceiving anything but lack of choice. That may equate in some minds as “that other OS is the only choice available”, but it really is not the same thing. If retail stores offered GNU/Linux people buy it as we saw with netbooks and now smart thingies.

    Most people do not use PCs as productivity tools. They use them for entertainment, communication and the like. Most PCs are bought by consumers.

  41. Contrarian says:

    “I am seeing ads on TV for Android/Linux computers.”

    There is no argument that Android devices are being sold in large quantities and have become popular, particularly as a lower price alternative to Apple versions of the same devices. You can call them “Linux computers” if you want to force some sort of point, but that is not what I would call them or what the great majority of their owners call them.

    Microsoft succeeds in the desktop/laptop/notebook business because people perceive that it is necessary to meet their product useage needs. Phones and tablets, on the other hand, do not have any pre-conceived notion of what is expected and so you can get away with supplying almost anything that works the same and, even better, has some sort of improvement over what others have provided.

    If that were true for desktops, there would be no problem supplying Ubuntu or another Linux version in lieu of Windows. But that business does not work that way and the OEMs are essentially stuck with the consumer tastes that have been established over the past 30 years. That is not going to change.

    Further, the phones and tablets are not likely to be a direct replacement for the conventional computer. Sales of personal computers have not grown as wildly as phones and tablets, but they have continued to grow nonetheless. People have a computer and a phone now and will add a tablet to their list as prices become more attractive. I think that they will still want to get a new computer every few years whether they have a new tablet or not. That has been the case so far.

  42. The Other Dave says:

    My mistake but they still don’t sell nearly as many Office licences as that other OS.

    I just fell off my chair as this is the first time I’ve seen you admit this.

    And yes you are right, they haven’t sold as many copies in the OS arena. They took a pounding after Vista. Vista really pissed off a lot of people including the corporate environment.

  43. My Goodness! How is it possible to improve if everyone is using it?

  44. My mistake but they still don’t sell nearly as many Office licences as that other OS.

  45. Contrarian wrote, “You cannot buy a Linux computer in regular stores or order one from ordinary sources.”

    That’s only true in most big box stores in North America if you are writing about desktops and notebooks. I am seeing ads on TV for Android/Linux computers. In other parts of the world you can find GNU/Linux and that other OS on shelves side by side. BRIC countries actively promote GNU/Linux as does Malaysia.

    Here’s one… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TspW78CulsI&feature=player_detailpage (Acer Aspire One last month unboxing.)

    Here’s another from Positivo in South America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN28iLSKneM

  46. The Other Dave says:

    “Microsoft’s Business Division performed the best. Operating income for that unit grew 24% to $3.1 billion, on a 21% increase in revenue to $5.2 billion. More businesses are buying Microsoft Office software along with their new PCs, said Klein”

    From: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110428-727348.html

    Oh dear. Looks like your speculation is incorrect. Better use facts next time. 😛

  47. Contrarian says:

    “M$’s Business segment does the various servers and Office, n’est-ce pas?”

    Non! See page 33 of your cite. ” MBD offerings include the Microsoft Office system (comprising mainly Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync), which generates over 90% of MBD revenue, and Microsoft Dynamics business solutions. ”

    Page 32 describes Server And Tools Division as “Server and Tools product and service offerings include Windows Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Windows Azure, Windows Embedded device platforms and Enterprise Services.”

  48. Contrarian says:

    “do you believe that 1% nonsense?”

    I think that the facts of the matter are that, whether Linux usage is 1%, 2%, 5%, or even more as some insist, it is rarely, if ever, encountered in most places where people are using personal computers. No matter what its true percentage, it is a rarity. You cannot buy a Linux computer in regular stores or order one from ordinary sources.

    From the point of view of Microsoft’s businesses, Linux on the desktop is might as well be non-existent. If someone “switches” to Linux, they are just installing Linux on a Windows computer and if they need a new computer, they will most likely buy another Windows computer, since they are so much less expensive than anything else, and again install Linux. Microsoft still gets the sale. Maybe they are sad that the Windows copy is no longer in use, but I doubt it.

    Some companies have gone to great lengths to replace Windows computers with Linux, and that does affect total Microsoft sales adversely, but when you add them all up, hundreds of thousands of such installations are a mere drop in the sea of computer sales. You have to look at the financials supplied by Microsoft to the SEC which show significant growth over a long period of time even considering the occasional decline of some quarter or two based usually on extraordinary circumstances.

  49. pogson wrote, “While many do use that other OS, few use Office.

    The Other Dave wrote, “Another opinion presented as fact.

    This is something that can be measured and described in numbers. How many licences are issued annually for that other OS? Answer: About 300 million more or less.. How many licences are issued annually for Office? We can guesstimate that from M$’s 10-Q. M$’s Business segment does the various servers and Office, n’est-ce pas? The business segment of M$’s revenue was $5.266billion in a recent quarter. According to IDC, new servers running that other OS amounted to $5.1billion in total. The x86 server market shipped 1.8 million servers. We don’t know precisely how many servers M$’s stuff was shipped on but we know the average price of an x86 server is $5.1billion/1.8 million, about $2800. M$ charges something like $1000 retail price for a server licence but we can assume they split it with the OEM, so , perhaps $500 goes to M$. If M$ sold half of those server licence then $900million was server licences. CALs amount to something. I have no clue how many are sold but if they may not sell tightly with each server… Who knows? Anyway there is a $billion or more from the business segment earned by servers. That leaves $4billion for Office licences more or less and the licence starts at $350 so it’s only 10million+ copies of Office… So many millions of PCs have that other OS and not Office. QED

  50. Linux Apostate says:

    RP: This comment ended up in the trash by accident. I have a “jumpy” mouse. I found it in the trash much later. Sorry
    —————
    This isn’t really a fair comparison. You are using the single-supplier status of Windows as a justification to see any specific problem with Windows as generally representative. Whereas Linux gets a free pass because problems can be blamed on a specific version or distribution.

    I can say that I have had many, many Linux annoyances over the years and I shrugged them off because I believed in Linux in a semi-religious way. Nowadays I seem to find them every week, if not actually every day, and I use them as opportunities to laugh at Linux. I don’t take any of this FLOSS stuff seriously any more.

    Today’s Linux annoyance was quite fun and I want to share it. Did you know that archives produced on Debian 6.0 with “tar –lzma” cannot be extracted on Debian 5.0 with the same command? There’s an incompatibility between the lzma code in tar 1.23 (squeeze) and tar 1.20 (lenny), and you’d never find out except by accident. Lucky I didn’t need to extract a file urgently!

  51. Richard Chapman says:

    I see Dave’s back with his copy and paste “wisdom”. Just one question Dave, do you believe that 1% nonsense?

  52. The Other Dave says:

    While many do use that other OS, few use Office.

    Another opinion presented as fact.

    Most people produce little or nothing with their computers so

    Another opinion presented as fact.

    Consumers buy most PCs, last time I checked and most PCs do not come with Office </b.

    Irrelevant comment. Perhaps to attempt confusion?

    globally the number of GNU/Linux desktops is much higher than 1%.

    A reference to a bunch of references that offer no facts or evidence of said claim.

    You’re going in circles Robert but the only person you’re convincing is yourself.

  53. Fortunately my long-term memory is still intact. A supplier that has repeatedly disappointed me does not deserve my custom. If a dealership sold you several lemons in a row, would you keep buying from him?

  54. oldman says:

    “That’s what people used to say about 2003 Server and I have seen many problems with that like hesitation in service, malware, re-re-reboots, and failure to accept updates. The installations were done by MSCEs. I just held its hand.”

    There have been 3 generations since Server 2003 (2003 R2, 2008 and 2008 R2) Your experience is still obsolete, Pog.

  55. That’s what people used to say about 2003 Server and I have seen many problems with that like hesitation in service, malware, re-re-reboots, and failure to accept updates. The installations were done by MSCEs. I just held its hand.

  56. Not facts at all. While many do use that other OS, few use Office. Most people produce little or nothing with their computers so “office productivity” is irrelevant. e.g. games, music, video, FaceBook, news, weather, sports may be much higher priorities for most consumers. Consumers buy most PCs, last time I checked and most PCs do not come with Office (except perhaps a trial version never activated).

    There may well be regions where GNU/Linux is on fewer than 1% of desktops but globally the number of GNU/Linux desktops is much higher than 1%.

    see for example, Caitlyn Martin at Oreilly – Debunking the 1% Myth

  57. Zombie Chan says:

    “Windows server performs quite well for its function.

    Failures of the OS have been non-existent.”

    Indeed, I use Windows Server 2008R2 to run my personal site as well as use it at work.
    We’ve never had a problem with the servers running it.

  58. The Other Dave says:

    Now, I know GNU/Linux is not perfect, but once installed in a system, you are much less likely to have such annoyances and failures.

    Pfft. Pathetic how you attempt to use opinions as facts.

    Here’s a fact: the vast majority of the world uses Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

    Another fact: Linux desktop is less than 1% of the total market.

  59. oldman says:

    “That other OS is:

    a poor performer,
    fails both routinely and randomly, sometimes when you need it most, and
    you have to hold its hands instead of it doing its thing smoothly and unobtrusively.”

    Your experience is obsolete Pog. Based on my experiences working in a shop that runs Line of business applications on the latest version of windows server windows 2008 R2 x64 – we run enterprise edition).

    Windows server performs quite well for its function.

    Failures of the OS have been non-existent.

    Hand holding, is no more and in some cases less that that of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux Servers that we run.

    Of course, I dont expect you to accept this, but whatever.

  60. Richard Chapman says:

    That’s been my experience with GNU/Linux. It doesn’t get in my way (telling me how hard its working for me for one example) and it’s consistent, day in and day out.

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