In the early 2000's (around the time of the article), they were trying to get point and click simplicity for installing software (which even back then was abundant in Linux). I remember a few others distros, like Mandriva (Mandrake at the time) had graphical package managers. There were others.
To anyone who's curious and feels like giving old Linux distros a try, https://old-linux.com/ is a good resource. Unfortunately I can't find any mirrors of repos with packages that go back to 1998 and early 2000's.
I don't just remember, I ordered the desktop!
Linspire's attempt at low-cost did Linux a lot of harm. The desktop was under-powered, their software manager lacked too many apps and... it still suffered from dependency hell - leading to breakage.
While it looked nice, the polish wasn't there. Eventually, I found Mepis and everything just worked but I didn't have enough knowledge & (especially) time to stick with it. It was years before I attempted to go full-time Linux again. I still did lots and lots of distro-hopping though
I'm happy to report that I've been a full-time Linux user the last three years (Mint, for the curious). The entire landscape has changed enough that I have even effortlessly transitioned three users. Most users aren't heavy downloaders like me, so once they have their core apps, they're happy. It literally is click-n-play as far as usage now with the benefit of tremendous built-in hardware support when doing installs.
> The desktop was under-powered
It was the first sub $200 PC, what did you expect? The PC actually sold very well.
> their software manager lacked too many apps and... it still suffered from dependency hell - leading to breakage.
It was Debian under the hood and later Ubuntu and had every package in respective apt repo. It made available every major GUI based desktop app at the time via a graphical installer as the target user had no clue what CLI was nor “apt-get”. This turned a lot of existing Linux users off but they (you) were never the target market.
Linspire also made huge strides in specifically addressing dependencies including developing a package manager called Opium (https://cseweb.ucsd.edu/~lerner/papers/opium.pdf). A number of these features went on to be folded directly into apt itself.
> Linspire's attempt at low-cost did Linux a lot of harm.
To the target market/user Linspire did far more good than harm. To the community, Linspire/Lindows gave back a ton. This included:
- Financial supporter to Wine
- Financial supporter to ResierFS (far ahead of any filesystem at the time… horrible tragedy what happened with his wife Nina)
- Financial supporter to Debian (RIP Ian)
- Financial supporter to Mozilla Firefox/Thunderbird (ex. inline spell checking was first found in Linspire)
- Funded gaps in applications such as NVU HTML editor
- First sub $200 PC in retail store
- First commercial “app store” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNR_(software))
- Was sued for Microsoft for trademark infringement and walked away with $20 million (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Corp._v._Lindows.com,_Inc.)
- Fastest Linux installer at the time by wide margin
- Early adopter of Haskell
- First distro to use Bittorrent for distribution
- Funded Desktop Linux Summit
- Funded initiative to translate major apps into 50+ languages
Where Linspire really fell on its face was running as root. There could have been much more elegant solutions to solve this but decision was solely outside of engineering.
There are Wake On LAN Android apps, and I presume IOS too. There are many mobile torrent clients, and shell emulators. Those who can work with a CLI can set up their desktop/server/mobile integration on Windows just as easily as on Linux. Look, it's true that for some things Linux (rather, 'a Unixy OS') is easier, but that doesn't mean there's a market for desktop Linux. Those who are hardcore enough to want it, don't want to pay for it; and those who want to pay have plenty of solutions on Windows.
Forum thread with information on the system details / costs of LindowsOS desktops at Wal-Mart: https://www.dbstalk.com/community/index.php?threads/wal-mart... (June 2002)
I know that I've got a few of Red Hat 8, and at least one of 9, because I had the book "Red Hat Linux 8 for Dummies", and downloaded the extra disks from Red Hat themselves afterwards. I think that book's in my (sleeping) son's room, along with some other mid-2000s Linux disks.
I have modern hardware but still use Lubuntu.
We've traded one monopoly for another.
Windows for PUBG and Overwatch. Linux for everything else. But yeah if my grandmother asked me to get her a laptop I'd probably go with a mac.
Probably like many here, I have to support several family members' personal computing needs. I switched them all from Windows first to Linux, and then Chromebooks, and each time support became five times easier.
With Chromebooks, the only support I have done in the last year has been getting a cloud printer working again.
Oh really? No package manager included (need brew for that), removal of most GNU tools, nothing open sourced about the OS, "good software" is hardly relevant when you see the breakage they cause when moving users to the newest version... Additionally the desktop style is hideous and if you don't like it, you can't change it. Nothing to do with a proper "Linux desktop".
And Macs are expensive. That's not what most users want.
So power users install it
> removal of most GNU tools
installed after you install brew
> nothing open sourced about the OS
No one really cares. Really, no one cares.
> And Macs are expensive. That's not what most users want.
Amazing that they sell so many of them then. Of course people don't 'want' expensive, but I have yet to find a laptop built with the same quality as a mac (trackpad is a biggie for me), and people are ok paying for status symbols.
Linux isn't there for personal use. I use Linux for various dev tasks, but it's painful, and when you run into a problem it's too quick to throw you to the terminal for a solution. That alone means most people will never use Linux.
They sell well among their target demographics, which is people who don't have strict budgets along with people who like showing off. I know, I have people like that in my own family and among my friends. I don't mind them, but assuming that it's for everyone is just misleading and false. Working on a Mac from scratch if you come from other experiences is just awkward and require a lot of investment.
> Linux isn't there for personal use.
It's just because you lack familiarity with it. If you had spent 10 years using Linux, you'd find Windows and Mac "not there for desktop use" either. What does desktop use mean anyway? I do everything on my Linux desktop, including video editing, photo editing, audio editing, and as well as all typical other stuff like browsing, watching movies and consuming content. What's "not there yet?" I have converted several folks to Linux and my amount of tech support for them has dropped to about one question per year, compared to the numerous issues they had with Windows. That's not a Mac vs Linux comparison, but if you assume Windows is not a bad desktop experience, then Linux is certainly at an even better level. At the same hardware your computer will be way more snappy with a Linux distro than anything else you throw at it, and don't get me started on customization, where Mac and Windows just completely lose.
(And don't get into some "But Android is linux" nonsense)
It is not that GNU tools were removed. It is more like GNU tools were not added. There is no reason too. Mac provides its own POSIX compliant tools. If you prefer GNU tools, well there is GNU/Linux. If you don't mind more traditional POSIX compliant tools, then macOS is a good option, as are FreeBSD, OpenBSD, etc.
The point is that MacOS does not really give you much choice (until you start hacking around with homebrew).
Microsoft is doing the same, but in my opinion not that extreme, because they aren't as successful with it as Apple is.
Google and all the other big corps are doing it too to some degree and thats why I try to stay away from them as far as I can.
To me a MacBook Pro with productivity apps and Ubuntu VMs in Fusion for software development is a pretty nice environment.
I wouldn't put a Linux desktop in front of a non-technical user (yes, I know, people are successful at this, but...), but I still find it to be a much better developer OS than MacOS is.
Sadly, too much of that narrowing is due to Apple ceding the advantage for me to be exactly happy with it (although there has been progress on the Linux front; things have come a long way, certainly). I'm still running MacOS 10.10 right now, and when something finally breaks, I don't know if I can stomach the thought of a forced upgrade to Sierra with its "System Integrity Protection". No, thanks.
I've used Linux full-time at work, and while most things are fine, VPNs, WebEx meetings, Evernote, MS Office documents, Spotify and Skype are not. Spotify and Skype at least offer Linux versions, but they are for the most part terrible and not maintained.
With Windows running in a VM I could get through a workday just fine, but its an additional hassle and a good chunk of your RAM.
I'm using a Mac now (on Sierra), and for the most part its a great experience. That may change as this 2013 MBP dies and I'm forced to use that awful touch bar.
Whereas on MacOS, you're stuck with the decisions Apple made about their window and workspace management, both of which I abhor even after giving MacOS a shot for a year.
Neither is right or wrong, but I feel the same surprise of GP. I don't understand how you could say "proper interface" as if there are no flaws.
That said, if I could only use one computer and OS, it would be a Mac simply because it's the best set of compromises. I can play a few games, I can run things like Lightroom and Photoshop that have no compelling (to me) open source alternative, and I can use a serviceable if clunky Unix environment for serious work. But it's worse at any specific thing I want to do. It's just better than any single alternative at doing all of them.
FWIW my family all use Win10 and I'm called to fix that pretty often (latest: an update wiped out ability to view any JPEGs by associating TWINUI, on a desktop, with loads of filetypes).
I do prefer an OS that doesn't have the bonnet welded shut.
This on Debian.
(I'm not even going to start on SystemDestroyer.)
I've been using Linux for > 20 years. It still manages to fuck up really, really badly at times. At an increasing rate.
It remains my preferred OS, but the self-inflicted problems are getting quite annoying.
It is part of the code/project churn that i so wish the Linux ecosystem could get over and accept that one gets better software in the long run by continual refinement of existing code (no matter how crufty it may look at first glance) than constantly churning out new code.
Try to install hackintosh, your silly debian bugs would look like a joke to you after that. Srsly, you are comparing OS, preinstalled on certified hardware, with debian, which works on ppc, x86, raspberry pi and so on.
And yet it did.
Someone's failing to mind their knitting.
Mind: I've seen some far worse breakage of other elements, and all very frustrating. But this is ... just exceptionally hard to excuse.
After keyboard issues (I'm dealing with those on another system -- hardware, mobile, ergo, not just a "well, replace the keyboard then" matter), mouse is very nearly as annoying. Screen/display would be up there as well.
Get your basic input, output, and storage right at the very least.
As for installing Debian on various kit -- I'm more than slightly familiar with it. Including doing zmodem transfers of UUEncoded DEBs over serial port in order to get PLIP up so that I could get PCMCIA ethernet running. Bootstraping from the Potato root tarball split out over ramdisks having initially booted Tom's Root Boot. Partition the hard drive, then cat the tarball into one piece, and untar.
(PLIP is actually surprisingly useful, it turns out.)
As a 'young' linux sysadmin (approaching 10-ish years), I felt like I was sitting at granpappy's feet listening to a story just then :)
The fun part is that there are tools to address virutally any situation you're likely (or unlikely) to run into. If you know how the pieces work, how they come apart, and how to put them back together, you can to a hell of a lot.
Every OS manufacturer has tried its hand at "convergence" across desktops and mobile. Apple seems no different. I'm not sure why, but OS vendors seem drawn to the concept like moths to a flame, and it's always a mess.
There's still a lot to like about newer versions, but the stuff that was removed on the way to 10.6 I was mostly glad to see go (excessive brushed metal) or at least don't miss now, while there are some things from 10.6 that are now gone and I still miss them.
I don't see the removal of ObjC GC as all that bad, especially in comparison to the death of the Cocoa-Java bridge. At least the former offered a compelling migration path for actively maintained software, in the form of ARC.
That is an interesting observation. Off the top of my head I can think of: MS, BeOS, MacOS, and Ubuntu.
But people —average people— do that for their food, their cars, their homes, their personal appearance. This includes clothes, hairstyles, after market pigmentations, permanent and temporary, as well as extra holes and plugs in their epidermis in all sorts of novel and creative ways.
They ask for customisation on their vacations, hotel stays, upgrades on airplane tickets and car rentals. People ask for concessions on their employment contracts, seek special arrangements for schooling, loans and mortgages.
Some even customise their computer hardware, slapping stickers on custom cases, adding fancy illumination, aftermarket cooling, fancier peripherals, upgrades, et cetera, ad nausea.
And companies jump at the chance to chance to service these requests.
But not commercial software and operating systems. They are special snowflakes apparently.
I and my peers are an incredibly small fraction of a percent? 2% anyway. But sure, ok, a small group.
But we're loud, and we're having it our way. We make sure people see us having it our way, so they will start asking to have it their way too. Whatever that way might be.
And it's working. Which is why that "incredibly small fraction of a percent" somehow motivated Microsoft to add bash to Windows. They weren't catering to average people. Or why there is growing interest in customising Mac OS. https://www.reddit.com/r/unixporn/comments/61gdup/ricing_mac...
For such a small group, we've won some large concessions. Some of them have probably benefitted you.
What I mean is:
Market share of Mac is tens of times more than Linux.
Not because its that much better.
Linux attempts a much harder task than MacOS, in trying to be compatible with a wide variety of hardware. That it's even considered remotely comparable to a product that's sold only on a few supported platforms at a time is impressive. (In fairness, Windows manages this too, although it does it by forcing most of the work on hardware vendors and OEMs to do driver development and integration, respectively.)
Although a few companies have tried over the years to do Linux preinstalled on private-label hardware, thus taking the hardware-compatibility and installation issues out of the picture, there's sort of a chicken-and-egg issue with doing it at scale. Apple has managed to always have just enough volume to compete with commodity systems (even if just barely compete, particularly on price) but present a tightly-coupled hardware/software package.
Power 32 bit is dead. Apple never ventured into other architectures. macOS (and OSX 10.whatever plus since the mid 2000s) are running on x86 and stumbling towards ARM; iOS runs on ARM. It's still commodity hardware, just like Windows and Linux.
I understand that Apple supports a much smaller set of hardware and drivers, but in my mind it's not really 'integration' the way, say, dinosaurs like SPARC + Solaris or POWER virtualization under AIX is integrated hardware with software. I'm really just being cranky here and splitting hairs.
Linux ... takes what you throw at it. It does this pretty damned well most of the time, but I've lived and seen the challenges.
Broadcom chipsets. Nvidia. Dell's so-called RAID controllers (PERC). WiFi.
Audio, trackpad (at least for single-touch), networking, and WiFi not so much any more, though bootloaders and telco kit remain issues.
Apple owns the software that runs on their computers. None of these problems will ever happen to Apple. This has been around:
None of my Classic software runs on a modern Mac. No PowerPC software runs on a modern Mac. I think those problems do happen to Apple's users.
The one company which does take this sort of thing seriously is … Microsoft. I hate using their OS, and so I don't, but I gotta respect them for that.
Isn't it kinda Unix/BSD (non-Linux) desktop?
Sure, but NextStep itself belongs to the BSD family.
Anyway, the accent in my previous post was more on the non-Linux nature of the MacOS.
There is a "base" of MACH/NextStep that is partially based on "original" BSD and then there are some parts added later coming from both FreeBSD and NetBSD.
Apple UI is bad. The belief that it is good is largely religious and a result of branding.
Could you explain what's bad about GNOME?
My Linux Mint desktop runs Cinnamon, but it's a lot less of a pain there because the only apps I run are Atom, Chrome, and Terminator (which is not a great terminal emulator but whatever, it's fine).
FWIW, I think what you're describing may fall under https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley. It's a pet theory I've had for a while.
I, too, have thought that GTK has a sense of "un-finished-ness" ever since I saw it for the first time. My first impressions of GTK (circa 2006) were that it looked quaint, but didn't seem reasonable for serious use.
People had a go at XP's Luna theme for being "Fisher-Price" too - the kind of thing they might give a[n ostensibly less-intelligent] family member (or similar) to use, but not something they'd use themselves.
This draws an interesting distinction between the equally important halves of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_and_feel: you can legitimately judge an OS by its look and get a few people to agree with you, but if the feel is right, the OS will win anyway.
I've always thought the GTK guys have very conspicuously lacked anyone who understands what the feel part of UX is, or that they need someone who understands that. Either that, or the threshold we're discussing is only fixable by doing work in every application. Objectively I do figure that the GNOME project has at least one decent UI designer on board, so it's more likely that it's probably something that requires collective single-minded agreement on a standard, something that requires focused investment from app developers, or both.
I've tried Enlightenment too, once several years ago, and once a few months ago. I don't actually remember what my setup of a few years ago looked like, but I remember there being a cute water effect animation for the desktop, which was really cool (especially the fact that it ran seemingly perfectly smoothly on a _several_-year-old 700MHz Pentium III laptop!). More recently I tried it out again (specifically focusing on Terminology), on a ridiculously old machine (800MHz Duron) as well as a modern i3 box. The Duron more or less choked full stop, but testing on the i3 was like... I've thrown all this extra hardware at this thing, and for what? I'm not really getting that much here.
Enlightenment is nice, but it also feels incomplete. I think E and GNOME probably both suffer from limited user testing and validation. The thing with for example Windows is that you have both official testing groups (and the presumable video data from sessions) along with an entire company of designers and developers to make noise about features. The result is something that feels incredibly intuitive and comfortable to use at the little-things-so-small-your-brain-doesn't-consciously-notice-them level, which, tying back to Uncanny Valley, is I think the area that makes the absolute most difference.
Worded differently, I very occasionally try and clip out loops of music I listen to. (I'm still looking for a nondestructive, fast music editor for Linux that will let me crossfade stuff. I find it hard to believe this doesn't exist. I use Rezound at the moment, I'm yet to see if Radium explodes on my ancient ThinkPad.) But with the looping thing, sometimes I'll extract a clip out of a song, and after Repeat #471 (where I've been repeatedly playing just the loop point), I reckon it sounds pretty good... so I zoom out and play the entire ~30 second loop... and suddenly the loop point sounds incredibly out of place. I think a similar thing can happen in any sort of abstract, subjective design - designers and developers can spend so much time on their work that they temporarily lose ground truth (possibly using a mechanism that shares some traits with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_satiation, something I descovered recently). That's why a giant testing/validation/feedback team who are paid to shout at you and tell you why your thing is terrible is NEEDED. Open source doesn't have enough of this - it's either toxic vitriol that needs IP-blacklisting or 10 PRINT "that is the most awesome thing ever" 20 GOTO 10. Well, in more cases than is useful, at least; I'm sure sensible discussion does take place, but if it worked this wall of text and associated commentary wouldn't exist...
Finally, I think that, in trying to make something absolutely amazing, these projects are "punching above their weight", if you will; trying to put out a product beyond their collective capacity, either deliberately or indirectly. In every aspect of life, any activity can be engaged, but not every activity can be pulled off with confidence and competence. Trying something without confidence frequently doesn't work; trying something with confidence but without competence often turns to disaster and just pans out wrong.
You should write a blog post, not a HN comment.
Luckily that's not frequent though.
Though, for developers, it's definitely a viable option since most modern development tools (at least for the web and Android, not so much for Windows, Mac, or iOS) are cross-platform. But it's a much harder sell to someone doing, say, financial analysis or data modeling, where they absolutely must use Excel or SPSS.
I've seen lots of modern companies where developers have a mix of platforms, but it tends to become a monoculture of either Win or Mac when you get into front (biz dev, marketing, etc.) or back office (AP, AR, finance, HR, etc.) functions.
Yes and no. For most people, Linux is more than ready to be their only OS. There's no lack of functional software. I went through University only using Linux on my computer.
Edit - For example, most of the profs use LibreOffice, for sharing everyone uses Google docs, statistics and economics homework was done with R (Excel and Stata were the other options), all CS homework could be done on Linux. The only place I had to use Windows at all was a single course (Finance) where Excel was taught. I still just used LibreOffice then transferred the files to a school computer to make sure the output was correct.
The only problem is that certain software still has the public's mind-share.
> But it's a much harder sell to someone doing, say, financial analysis or data modeling, where they absolutely must use Excel or SPSS.
Excel sucks and SPSS does run on Linux.
You and Apple may value technical aspects more than freedom, but not all do.
They do for a lot of it. Not Cocoa. Not the UI. But nearly everything else:
I disagree with your categorical statement, it's inevitably going to start comment wars just because of the provocative phrasing.
You can tell that this is the stuff that's holding people back from other devices because when a manufacturer actually makes a product with solid hardware - like the Surface - people started to buy them.
Also of course the fact that OS X gets you both big commercial software for e.g. media creation and a unix-y machine.
So I wouldn't explain it with hardware alone, I think others have cought up pretty well compared to say 10 years ago.
I imagine it is dependent on major.
Go to any tech conference and it is 90% Macs as well and a good portion of the remainder is Linux. But I'm guessing other industries / fields of study are mostly Windows.
The only developers I know still on Windows are either writing Windows software or using hardware that only works on Windows. And even some of them use a Windows VM on Linux or OSX. That is of course anecdotal.
This varies a lot by place too. Where I live, lots of developers choose to use Windows. Fashion and momentum matters.
> are either writing Windows software
I assume most people in the game industry need their game to run on Windows or use hardware that only works with Windows (like a dev kit for a console).
Unless you are talking Web and mobile games, in which case, most of the web gave devs I know use Mac and so do most of the mobile devs (thanks the the difficulty deving for iOS on Windows).
But that is why I called it an "anecdote"... your milage may vary.
If it is because I said "any tech conference"... if so I humbly beg for your forgiveness for using an absolute when I meant to be anecdotal. I thought people understood hyperbole. In any case, it would have been more productive to post a comment... "actually my experience at tech conference has been different" rather than down vote.
Personally I reserve my down votes for trolls and off topic posts, I don't even use it for people I disagree with, but to each their own. I accept your judgement.
What I really want is a thin and light unibody aluminum frame and high density screen on a Linux machine. But since I can't find that, OS X is a nice substitute.
Edit: Thank you for the suggestions everyone.
Reinstalled it with Fedora and everything works without any configuration or tweaks needed.
With 4.12 kernel and TLP the battery life has been amazing (I can get about 24 hours at idle with screen on - about 2.55 Watts)
Also...powerful enough to drive dual 4K monitors if needed.
Maybe the upcoming Xiaomi Mi laptop too.
The price, though was amazing - £350.
Its pretty great for a fanless laptop thats sub $600. Its too bad you can't buy the latest model(UX330CA) right now outside of ebay. Its only available in Canada for some reason
Other than that, because the Intel chipset has pretty good open source support, it's an excellent laptop.
The greatest threat came when Asus introduced a Linux subnotebook, the EeePC 2G Surf, which not only ran Linux, but could not run Windows. At the time, Microsoft was pushing Vista and killing off XP. But Vista needed more hardware than subnotebooks of the time offered. This led PC makers to offer Linux-only systems. Microsoft's strategy to move people to Vista was threatened.
Microsoft's response was to extend the life of XP as an OEM-installable OS, but only on "little" machines. There was a maximum allowed screen size, CPU speed, and disk size for an OEM XP install on a subnotebook. Then Microsoft pushed hard for vendors and retailers to put "Dell/Asus/HP/etc recommends Microsoft Windows" on their web sites, and deemphasize Linux. This was enforced by terms in the OEM licensing arrangement for manufacturers and the retail kickback arrangement for retailers.
Granted it perverted the entire idea of Linux by limiting the user's freedom to run anything but a data-harvesting web-browser, but, semantics.
But... I don't really care if my contributions to open-source get used in a closed-source product. I just won't buy it because you intentionally neutered my ability to fix it myself. And I'm going to raise that point if your potential customers ask me what I think of it. But I don't feel any bitterness over it that I don't also feel for stuff that's entirely proprietary to begin with.
Not so dramatic as linux and FOSS have brought us so much more. FreeBSD too.
Specific DE that you have in mind? Those vary, a lot.
I am a happy Linux user and find it very usable. It is just point and click. I find other OSes to be more difficult, but I suppose that's unfamiliarity.
The problem i "power user" ready, in particular "media production power user" ready.
But then that group is tribal, if not religious, that makes RMS seem atheist.