Sorry, lame heading, I know. I’m just too lazy to think of anything better.
A couple articles showed up on my radar that I wanted to mention.
First up: Divining from the Entrails of Ubuntu’s Gutsy Gibbon by Bruce Byfield.
The thing I noticed about this article is that while he expresses many complaints, a vast majority of them are cosmetic. Improper words like “guided” instead of “automatic”, or how synaptic is not as good as apt-get, or how the font selection and default setting sucks (see my hint to do something about that), or how icons on the desktop are misplaced, etc. etc. The extremely promising thing about this article is that he doesn’t mention hardware compatibility issues!
The only area that Linux has been stuck in the mud is hardware support. It simply can’t be improved without hardware vendor support. To see an distro review that doesn’t seem to say ‘Oh my mouse didn’t work, or my video didn’t work’ is a sign of great progress on this front.
Bruce needs to realize that while Gutsy’s default settings might not be best for him, he can actually fix them. And open source software doesn’t quite work like commercial software where companies sometimes depend on reviewers to tell them what’s wrong with their software. If he thinks things can be improved (for example, his suggestion to use the term “automatic partitioning” instead of “guided partitioning” is a good one), then there is a direct mechanism for him to report the problem: Ubuntu’s bug tracking system.
All the problems this guy mentions can be fixed. And most of them aren’t that hard to fix either. I haven’t come away from a Linux review article thinking something like that in a long time.
Second up: 7 reasons why Linux won’t succeed on the desktop by Alexander Wolfe on iTnews.
This guy is much more in tune with the problems of Linux today. I found myself silently agreeing with many of his assertions, the biggest one being that people haven’t figured out a way to make money from the Linux desktop. As much as people deny it, it takes money to move these things forward. Most hackers who spend a lot of time on Linux code aren’t exactly doing it for free. They’ve managed to find a company that knows how to make money from Linux. It’s just that there are very few companies that actually try to make money only from the desktop, and there are even fewer that remotely succeed at doing this.
Part of the reason, at least from my view, is something I’ve also mentioned before. It’s really hard for software vendors to ship software on Linux. As it currently stands, the only technically “sane” solution is for a vendor to open source their software in a way that a distro can include it in their release. The first annoying alternative is to ship your entire runtime with your app (but this is hard due to LGPL static linking situation). The second even more annoying alternative is to make a bunch of packages for different distros (which distros?)
Meanwhile M$ spends a whole bunch of time and effort and money to make this easier. They work really hard at not breaking backwards compatibility (well except for Vista), and they give you a lot of tools that make app deployment really easy. You can write one windows app and expect it to work on a huge percentage of the installed base. That makes it really easy and enticing for people to write software for the platform.
The problem isn’t that Linux simply can’t support third party software vendors, it’s just that nobody has figured out how to do it right. So far the biggest successes look like QT-based solutions, or web apps (if you think about it, the browser has become a fairly widely deployed backwards compatible app environment). Seems like Adobe’s runtime and Silverlight are also interesting prospects.
Chances are though, when the OSS community does figure it out, it’s not going to take the same form of MS’s solution (even if it did, it likely wouldn’t be better enough to displace MS).

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