SJVN on Microsoft opening the door to the Linux desktop

SJVN wrote, “I think it’s time for Dell, HP, Lenovo, and all the other big-time PC vendors to finally start taking the Linux desktop seriously. It’s clear that Microsoft’s agenda no longer is running in parallel with their plans.

Shifting to Linux won’t be easy. I’m sorry to say that in 2012 there are only two significant Linux desktop/tablet operating systems for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to consider for partnering: Canonical of Ubuntu fame, and Google with Android and Chrome OS.”

I have to agree with SJVN on the first point. The doors have been opening in steps for years now:

  • crappy code in the DOS and Lose ‘9x era,
  • waves of malware,
  • shocks like forcing XP SP2 on innocent users whose apps quit,
  • Vista, which forced millions to buy new equipment which did not run the OS and the OS was bug-ridden to boot, and
  • now “8” and “secure boot” and “Surface” are wreaking havoc with the world of IT and they are not even released yet.

The world is tired of M$. The OEMs are tired of M$. It’s long past time to use GNU/Linux in bulk shipping PCs from OEMs to retailers and wholesalers.

I disagree with the point about only a couple of distros being right for OEMs. ASUS had success even with a crappy distro on netbooks. All an OEM has to do with any distro is get involved with the packaging and source-code to be sure of a good fit. Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, OpenSuse and several other GNU/Linux distros with history, a large number of contributors and wide distribution will all work with OEMs. They already do in several cases. Ubuntu GNU/Linux may seem to have the inside track with a long relationship with OEMs and real salesmen but OEMs need reliability more than they need to be sold stuff. They want distros with a simple user-interface, good security and bug-patching, and actual policies about how to deal with various problems. Distros like Debian have been around for ages because they have those characteristics.

No. Choice of distro is scarcely a problem for OEMs. They can put a small team on the job of choosing a distro, developing releases for their machines and doing it. Many distros have all the tools needed to develop code let alone distribute binaries and images properly.

OEMs do have some real issues that matter to them and their customers that they would have to address in releasing GNU/Linux desktops: long term support for businesses who will spend a bundle on an IT-cycle, and consumers who want systems that are easy to use and to maintain. Ubuntu has 5-year long term support but it is based on Debian testing flavour rather than Debian Stable. That means more bugs early in the LTS period, not something business would enjoy. Using Debian Stable with ~2 year support and dist-upgrading to the next stable may well meet business needs.

Consumers tend to want “the latest thing” and Debian testing or normal Ubuntu which is based on testing may be a better fit but there will be more problems/bugs that could be referred to retailers/OEMs for fixing. OEMs do have a valid option of scripting or remotely administering the package updates on GNU/Linux. The packaging managers make that feasible. For the greater certainty, OEMs could contribute to any distro with support for packaging and testing. Reliable bug reports from a contributing OEM might be desirable for any distro. The costs would certainly be less than OEMs pay M$ now.

Another benefit of GNU/Linux for OEMs is that they can more or less rapidly move to ARM to increase margins and increase specific performance ( MIPS/watt, noise, weight, cost, size etc.). Consumers love innovation and GNU/Linux or Android/Linux on ARM give a lot of flexibility to distinguish an OEM from competitors. OEMs do relish competition because they have good people and can compete fairly. They don’t need Wintel dictating to them and they don’t need to be limited by what Wintel wants.

See SJVN: Has Microsoft opened the door to the Linux desktop? | ZDNet.

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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15 Responses to SJVN on Microsoft opening the door to the Linux desktop

  1. oiaohm says:

    ch What has changed. Android ch.

    Hardware makers don’t need a MS OS to sell a Tablet end users will buy. 2006-2009 they did not have a choice.

  2. ch says:

    “This shows that hardware makers are not really being supportive.”

    Trying to pull our legs again, right. Yes, you’re quite the clown.

  3. oiaohm says:

    ch this is not a single sided timing thing.

    2005-2009 did not really open up the door. OOo management was in way.

    Cracks did appear 2005-2009. In fact large cracks start appearing with MS Office 2012.

    Office 2010 attempted to resist by releasing stater that MS has now pulled.

    The battle has not ended this is the problem. There are becoming more and more examples of places operating without requiring Microsoft.

    Accountancy and other software providing cloud versions threatens to break the complete market open.

    Windows 8 on tablets MS has basically been forced to release the device themselves. This shows that hardware makers are not really being supportive.

    2005-2009 MS would not had this problem.

    ch so things are going wrong the question is how bad.

  4. ch says:

    The door was wide open for Linux on the desktop and OOo in about 2005 to 2009, when MS first had no new versions of Windows and Office, and when they did, the new versions had serious flaws. (They were not as flawed as most pundits made it, but they had flaws.) What happened? Not much. Then MS released Win7 and MSO2010, and now the door is closed again. Win8 might not be very successful on the desktop (meaning that most people will just continue using Win7), but it looks like it might just kick in the door to tablets and maybe even smartphones.

  5. Ivan says:

    Dell has been selling Linux off and on for the last decade or so.

    Once they started, Dell has never stopped selling Linux, the problem trolls like Kozmcrae fail to comprehend is that only ILM, Pixar, etc. want to purchase it.

    Turns out, it’s cheaper to spend $25,000 on an x86 Linux workstation than $50,000 on an SGI workstation.

  6. lpbear wrote a lot of stuff. Most is right on.

    I think there is an issue for the maintenance people. Thin client just use way less maintenance. Same with smart thingies. That embedded stuff is literally rock solid. Some places that migrate to GNU/Linux and thin clients are content to let the IT guys put their feet up like the Maytag Repairman but others will do layoffs. There will always be a need to talk with users to reset passwords and the like but a bug-reporting system can do a lot and secretaries can keep a little stack of units to expand/replace stuff, so there’s less need for a human to travel from the IT-place to the workplace. The system administrators have a job for life no matter what OS is involved because beyond a certain size, someone has to be around to swap/dust/clean/cool stuff. There will likely be quite a shift of jobs and some are threatened by that. There’s always a need for someone to know how to deal with every part of the system, but lower down the food-chain, fewer bodies are required unless seats are expanded. In education that happens a lot because most schools are far from 1:1 student-PC ratio. A few years ago, one school division switched from 300 thick clients to 1400 thin clients and did not have to hire staff. They did not let people go either but put them to work figuring out how IT could better be integrated into education. It was a winning change.

  7. lpbbear says:

    “The world is tired of religious zealots like you and SJVN. There are already enough such types.”

    The only “zealots” here are the occasional M$FT fanbois drifting in ranting about “bushwah!” and acting like pompous frat boys.

    Years ago I realized the path that was going to be forced on M$FT by the oncoming Open Source/Free Software Linux wave.

    Microsoft based its revenue model on raking in the cream of the crop leaving the problems and minimal profits to the OEMs, small resellers, and service/repair types, like me.

    I figured, as Linux and Open Source became more prevalent, it was just a matter of time before Microsoft decided it could no longer “trust” us lower on the totem pole types to promote only their products and no other competitors products and that it would steadily move everything in house as it became more paranoid about holding on to its monopoly. With UEFI, Microsoft manufactured tablets, and other in house moves we’re now at or very near the tipping point where Microsoft makes the huge mistake of assuming it can handle the responsibility of manufacturing its own hardware as well as carry the entire burden of the support problems for its products.

    Quite simply….it can’t.

    Yes, there will be damage to Linux and Open Source as a result of UEFI but….on the other hand the eventual greater damage will be to Microsoft itself as it sees operating expenses rise dramatically as it begins to assume the responsibility for its crappy products rather than the OEM’s, resellers, and service/repair types.

    For instance, consider how a guy like me, a small service/repair biz, handles situations like corrupted Windows systems. Most of us, at least those of us with a clue, use Linux run from cd discs to retrieve data for customers. Much easier, more dependable, faster than screwing around trying to get a toasted copy of Windows to do anything productive. Saves me time, saves customers money.

    So along comes UEFI…..and blocks that run from cd Linux disc from operating. I’m sure I will find a work around eventually but my guess is that whatever happens its going to take more time than before. Time equals money and the customer will be paying for it, not me. UEFI doesn’t mean file corruption ceases in Windows, nor does it stop viruses, nor does it change the long term history of the crappy quality of Microsoft’s products. While its claimed to be a security solution, all UEFI is really meant to do is block that so called often claimed 1% of a competitors product being used by Microsoft’s frustrated customers. In the end all UEFI will do is piss off service/repair types and piss off customers.

    So Microsoft is going to start making its own hardware with my guess being that tablets are only the beginning and Microsoft systems are on the planned for the future.

    Users are already frustrated with having to talk to someone in another country for support with current OEM’s. There at least the OEM could claim some immunity from fault because after all “We just make the hardware!”. How do you think customers are going to react when its Microsoft making not only the crappy software but the crappy hardware as well?

    Eventually this will severely impact Microsoft’s bottom line as more and more the impact of bad products and bad support begin to wear away at that formerly fat margin they enjoyed when OEM’s, Resellers, and service/repair businesses were footing the bill for support.

    I mentioned here in the past that I visualized this gradual process as Microsoft circling the wagons ever tighter and tighter to keep the “bad guys” at bay until the circle was so tight no one could get anywhere and almost everyone but Microsoft was…..a “bad guy”. We’re just about there now.

    RedHat and Ubuntu are acting the fool here by jumping on board the UEFI wagon train with Microsoft. While they think its their only salvation for a market that will change with or without them all they are doing is enabling Microsoft to wreck some damage to RedHat, Ubuntu, and their fellow Linux oriented businesses. The direction RedHat and Ubuntu and all other Linux/OSS/FS businesses should be taking is straight to the Department of Justice and other legal entities in every country in pursuit of remedies for what is clearly monopoly abuse and collusion on Microsoft’s part. The good news is that after the damage is done we will likely see a very much destroyed Microsoft who, in its arrogance and paranoia will have finally bitten off more than it can chew.

  8. kozmcrae wrote, There is a whole new generation Clarence that is emerging. A generation that for them a personal computer is a mobile device of one sort or another.””

    Forget the new generation. I met a mature and successful business woman who uses a notebook as her desktop device. It had bogged down after 2.5 years. Her solution was to buy a new PC. I pointed her towards GNU/Linux. She was interested. Her only issue was whether LibreOffice could read her xls spreadsheets with no macros… People really don’t love M$. I asked her “IT person” who was there whether she would be happy shopping for groceries knowing only the bottom line and not the individual prices… She clearly saw the connection. She was surprise how much she was paying to buy software that slowed down.

  9. kozmcrae says:

    Clarence wrote:

    “Buyer expectations are long ago cast in concrete for PCs and they are set for Windows and Intel compatibility.”

    How wrong can you be? Not much more. There is a whole new generation Clarence that is emerging. A generation that for them a personal computer is a mobile device of one sort or another. It’s their PC because they own no other type of computer.

    That “buyer expectation” is fading along with the generation it was “cast” in.

  10. Clarence Moon says:

    I met a business-woman at a party last evening…

    Nothing like an anecdote to save the day, eh? But for your needs here, she would have to be in the PC-OEM business. Also, are you certain that she was not just patronizing you? It happens a lot, you know.

    For the record, I do not dispute your assertions that Linux and a bunch of the available FLOSS applications are totally adequate for most people’s needs. In a one on one situation where your subject has some sort of motivation to solve a PC issue, you can often convince them to accept your solution. In a classroom where you are an authority figure as an instructor, you can get a whole group to go along, too. I can accept that.

    But there are, as you note around here, well over a billion “subjects” and only a pitiful few advocates willing to donate so much time for no compensation as to make the overall job to convert a noticeable fraction of users to Linux to be an impossible job. Too late for that (Did you read about product life cycles?). Buyer expectations are long ago cast in concrete for PCs and they are set for Windows and Intel compatibility.

  11. kozmcrae says:

    Ivan wrote:

    “Dell has been selling pre-installed Linux for what, 12 years now?”

    Nobody is talking about how Microsoft has kept its 95% hold on the desktop. Nobody is talking about Microsoft as a contender in the mobile phone market within the last 2 years up to now. Once and a while you’ll hear that Microsoft made a lot of money somewhere in some quarter. But nowhere have you heard in the last few years that Microsoft is killing the competition and making a bundle at the same time. They throw a lot of money at a product/service, lose a lot of money but manage to hold on to some market leadership. That’s the best they can manage against real competition.

    The implications of the news on Microsoft in the last few years is inescapable. Microsoft is in its declining years. FLOSS is in its ascendency.

    Dell has been selling Linux off and on for the last decade or so. Your implication is that this time is no different than any time in the past. That is wishful thinking on your part. You could turn out to be correct but each time Dell throws the Linux spaghetti at the wall, it sticks a little longer.

    This time is different than times in the past. Microsoft is no longer calling the shots. They are being pushed aside by long pent up market forces. They created a barrier to real competition on the desktop but that barrier is almost completely gone. Microsoft is toast without their monopoly to serve them.

  12. Clarence Moon wrote, “it seems to me that nothing ever changes in the business world other than there is periodically some new aspect of Windows that you insist is not going to be acceptable to the PC buyers and/or OEMs. “

    I met a business-woman at a party last evening. She has a 2.5 year old notebook that is “slowing down”. I explained the facts of IT to her and suggested she migrate to GNU/Linux. She saw it at work in our house and happened to have her “IT-daughter” in tow… She had already ordered a new PC, but the seed is planted. There is a better way to do IT and we will install Debian GNU/Linux on her “old” machine once she transfers all her data to the new machine. It will be fun. I shall first try If that fails we shall invade the castle by other means (There Must be 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover…).

    Things have changed. Five years ago she was so locked in that the concept of migration would have been unthinkable. Now she only has concerns about a few spreadsheets and she does not use macros, so the glitches should be few. The difference is that her business, instead of using a M$-only client application for major databases, now has a web-application.

  13. Clarence Moon says:

    The world is tired of M$…

    You have been saying this as long as I have been posting here, Mr. Pogson, but it seems to me that nothing ever changes in the business world other than there is periodically some new aspect of Windows that you insist is not going to be acceptable to the PC buyers and/or OEMs. That is always followed by a claim that Linux, at least collectively, can match anything that Windows can be used for beneficially.

    If Microsoft had actually shot themselves in the foot as many times as you claim, they should be long gone, but the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have noticed.

    Could you be misreading your tea leaves once more?

  14. Ivan says:

    Dell has been selling pre-installed Linux for what, 12 years now? You’d think Bob and Steve-O would put 2 and 2 together eventually…

  15. Viktor says:

    The world is tired of religious zealots like you and SJVN. There are already enough such types.

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