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(When) Will Linux Pass Apple On The Desktop? 1316

Posted by timothy
from the my-little-3-percenters dept.
EisPick writes "A column posted today on Slate ponders projections that Linux PCs will pass Apple in desktop market share next year. Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?"
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(When) Will Linux Pass Apple On The Desktop?

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  • No (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:50PM (#6279113)
    • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pVoid (607584) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:04PM (#6279283)
      agreed.

      After today's releases, I was actually asking myself if OS X could actually start threatening Windows.

      I've always been a PC user (because of flexibility, price, and just openess of the whole thing), and I do use Windows, and for the first time ever today (looking at the G5 specs and the MacOS stuff) I was actually tempted.

      Sorry wishful thinkers... linux ain't gonna do nothin' to OS X. In any case, it'll have much less effect on OS X than it could have on Windows.

      • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

        by dbrutus (71639) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:39PM (#6279591) Homepage
        Linux is more likely to be a positive than a negative for Apple. Without Linux, would KDE be where it is today? Would KDE even exist? But without KDE, Apple wouldn't have been able to take KHTML and make Safari. But it's not one-sided as the KHTML group benefited by getting a great many feature and stability improvements to their library contributed back to their project from Apple.

        Linux is for when you're young, poor, and in need of serious computing horsepower. OS X is for when you've got money in the bank and you don't want to have to deal with the Linux hassle.

        Will Linux eventually get its usability act together and challenged OS X on its own turf? Maybe, but on its way there, Linux would much more quickly gut Windows dominance and that's a result I can live with.
        • by mwillems (266506) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:36PM (#6280106) Homepage
          You say "Linux is for when you're young, poor, and in need of serious computing horsepower. OS X is for when you've got money in the bank and you don't want to have to deal with the Linux hassle."

          For me it is the reverse. I am neither young nor poor, and am not really in need of serious power, except for serious flexibility.

          I love my Linux desktop because *I*, not Steve J or Bill G, am in charge. I can do what I want, I can combine, shells are not hidden, and I have a choice of apps greater than one (vs MS Office for Apple and not much more for the Mac).

          You say Windows is open? Not to me it isn't. All the really useful Windows knowledge I have is in the form of "secrets". THAT is why I have a Linux desktop.

          Michael
          • by sheldon (2322) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:49PM (#6280215)
            I love my Linux desktop because *I*, not Steve J or Bill G, am in charge.

            The power of the computer is not in the desktop, but in the applications. The desktop is a means to an end.

            That is the secret of the Mac/Windows world.
          • by Llywelyn (531070) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:56PM (#6280724) Homepage
            >I love my Linux desktop because *I*, not Steve J or Bill G,
            >am in charge. I can do what I want, I can combine, shells
            >are not hidden, and I have a choice of apps greater than
            >one (vs MS Office for Apple and not much more for the
            >Mac).

            I can run GNome on a Mac via X11. I can also run OpenOffice and I've heard reports of people getting AbiWord up in running.

            That being said, if you can't do something in Linux, what is your response? If you say that you can "write it yourself" that is certainly true, but no different than for the Mac. Yes, you can theoretically tweak anything in the OS, but knowing the calls and where to do that are not necessarily trivial things!

            Just because it can be done doesn't mean that you can personally do it.
        • Re:No (Score:5, Insightful)

          by zurab (188064) on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:07PM (#6280351)
          Linux is for when you're young, poor, and in need of serious computing horsepower. OS X is for when you've got money in the bank and you don't want to have to deal with the Linux hassle.


          Will Linux eventually get its usability act together and challenged OS X on its own turf? Maybe, but on its way there, Linux would much more quickly gut Windows dominance and that's a result I can live with.


          I'm surprised just how many posts to this story are discussing OS X vs. Linux benefits, differences, etc. I didn't think it was relevant at all. A simple prediction that Linux will pass OS X market share in the near future has nothing to do with OS flamewars. In fact, Linux and OS X are coming from totally different ends of the spectrum and they are not likely to meet soon.

          This is not about KDE or Linux eating Apple market share but rather acquiring new markets or taking some away from Windows. I see it as a natural progression and I expect it. Unless Apple does someting drastic with their product (and everything else being relatively the same), e.g. offer it on x86, open-source much of it, etc. I don't see how Apple's market share changing significantly. Linux, on the other hand, is waiting for an explosion. In the near future, it is very likely that many if not most systems in the developing countries will be running Linux. This is bound to have an effect on developed countries also. Linux has many more significant inroads to make (even as it is), as opposed to Apple. So, I it's likely, IMO, that Linux desktop market share will overtake Apple's. Again, this doesn't mean Linux will beat OS X in UI, or functionality, or slickness, or "being cool", etc.

          Finally, I'd like to mention that the guy, Alex Salkever, who predicted this in a linked Business Week article, calls Safari "Apple's homegrown" browser and reiterates that it was built completely from scratch in-house. Dude, you are wrong! Get your facts straight before shelling out with your "expert" predictions.
      • by The Analog Kid (565327) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:14PM (#6279901)
        Yes but in terms of portablity Linux wins hands down so infact it could win on the desktop in marketshare. Since Apple runs on one platform and only one platform PPC.
      • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:18PM (#6280900) Homepage
        I don't see the Mac as threatening Windows, since Apple does not make a $550 computer. Windows vendors make tons of them, and they sell tons of them. Linux is now in the $199 WalMart computer possible, and quite honestly, more power to it, and even to WalMart.

        Linux IS going to pass Apple's market share, because Apple doesn't even compete in the low end of the market. What I protest about the Slashdot posting is the idea that Apple is going to be harmed by this.

        I think Apple is going to increase its share in the high end of computing, which is its natural habitat. If you considered market share of computers costing $2,999 or more, I think you'd find Apple has an excellent chunk of that market, probably around 1/3.

        Apple has laid the groundwork for this by buying up high-end applications like crackerjacks. Want Shake? Final Cut Pro? Logic? Mac time!

        The main thing holding Apple back in this space was wimpy processors and high prices. But now that they have a processor that competes with $4,000 Xeon systems for performance, and all the software a digital art fanatic could ever want, I see them ready to make dramatic inroads in this space. If they're 30% now, they'll be 55% in six months.

        There's little point in Linux trying to compete in this space; in the mainstream, Linux is about saving money, and you're not going to save people money selling a $4,000 Linux box when a $3,000 Mac's a better experience.

        So Linux is going to do fine, and so is MacOS X. I wish I could say they'd all unite and destroy Windows, but Microsoft has enough loyalists that I don't think that's possible. But I do think we're heading towards a world with a lot more viable options, and quite honestly that's the best outcome for everyone involved.

        D
        • by pVoid (607584) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:39AM (#6281421)
          I wish I could say they'd all unite and destroy Windows, but Microsoft has enough loyalists that I don't think that's possible

          You're on to something here man...

          Just breath deeply, and get rid of the hatred of windows... I personally think the desktop market miraculously being split 3 ways between OSX, Linux and Windows would be the best thing we've *ever* had. *EVER*

    • Apple is a system (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mAIsE (548) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:16PM (#6279380) Homepage
      Apple provides an experience to the end user.

      Apple studies the user experience from the on switch to the way the windowing system reacts to different types of input. Apple is the Ferrari of computer Systems.

      Linux is not a lowest common denominator solution and wont be for some time. Linux is free and uncontrollable, which makes it alot more inconsistent requiring more maintenance etc, etc...

      in this sense linux is on the other end of the spectrum from the Macintosh with windows somewhere in between.

      just my $0.02
  • by OwnerOfWhinyCat (654476) * on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:50PM (#6279115)
    ...done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?

    Of course not. Two reasons:

    1) Apple's followers are nothing less than fanatical; you will pry their Macs from their cold dead fingers.

    2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac.

    No worries.
    • by glenebob (414078) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:53PM (#6279152)
      On the other hand, maybe it will happen. The *only* reason I don't have a copy of OSX is because I don't want to mess with another hardware platform, and a more expensive one at that. If OSX ran on x86, I'd at least have tried it. I suspect I'm not alone here.
      • by tshak (173364) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:59PM (#6279221) Homepage
        I'm in the same position that you are but the reality is that we are in a very small demographic. The simple fact that we consider "trying" other OS's, or running multiple OS's underscores the fact. When the average consumer, and maybe even the average "prosumer" looks to buy a computer, they look at the entire package. There are few linux packages out there, and none that are nearly as compelling as the PC and Apple offerings (unless your budget is $300).

      • furthermore... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by sacrilicious (316896) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:05PM (#6279298) Homepage
        reason I don't have a copy of OSX is because I don't want to mess with another hardware platform

        To say nothing of it costing $120 each time Apple upgrades the OS. I paid for 10.1 just in time to watch 10.2 get released. I thought I'd simply do without the luxury of 10.2, but began encountering an increasing number of pieces of software that required 10.2 - not 10.1 - to work. The Apple OS is slick and beautiful, but may not be worth the extra $100+ every N months.

        • Re:furthermore... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MalleusEBHC (597600)
          If you paid for Puma (10.1) "just in time" to see Jaguar (10.2) released, then you are a fool. The release date of Jaguar was announced at MWNY more than a month ahead of the actual release in late August. Unless you had some dire need that made it worth paying $129 for a month's use of Puma, you should have waited. Don't blame Apple for your failure to budget your money well.
    • 2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac.

      Indeed, two of the bullet points for Panther were that it would bundle common Linux utilities and the final release of Apple's X11.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:55PM (#6279177)
      Not to mention the fact that the experience of OS X on the desktop kicks ass on KDE or GNOME. I love Linux as a server OS, but I moved to Mac for the desktop. In my mind, there's not much incentive to go the other way.
      • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279272) Homepage
        This leaves Apple with a static stagnant userbase.

        Even if Apple keeps all of it's current customers, it could still end up 3rd behind Linux.

        The real kicker is expecting people to jump to a completely other hardware platform just to indulge in OS 10 niftiness.
        • by Bearpaw (13080) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:35PM (#6279567)
          The real kicker is expecting people to jump to a completely other hardware platform just to indulge in OS 10 niftiness.

          Well, maybe I'm just a twisted, freakish excuse for a human being, but that's exactly what I did. And I know a couple of other people who did, too. (Before the Switch campaign started.)

          Sure, it didn't hurt that Apple makes good-quality hardware, but "OS X niftiness" was the deciding factor.

        • On who's desktop? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Global-Lightning (166494) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:11PM (#6279868)
          Apple is about to redefine the UNIX workstation market that will leave everyone, including Linux, in it's dust.

          Why?
          1. At $3K, the 2x2.0 is more than half the cost of any other 64bit UNIX workstation, and brings comparable, if not better, performance. Prepare to see a crapflood of cheap SUN ultra's, SGI Octanes, RS6000, and HPUX workstations on EBAY.

          2. OS X has one thing that no other UNIX based operating system can claim: Microsoft Office. Look under most UNIX user's desks in the workplace, and more often then not you'll see a windows box for documentation/presentations/outlook stuff. From a PHB's perspective, that means a single $3K box can replace a $9K+ UNIX workstation plus a $1500 PC. Not to mention the associated savings in power, maintenance, real estate, KVM switches, cabling, administration...

          3. The quality experience. This is the point hardest to grasp by the typical L1nux d00d. I'm using UNIX for WORK. If something goes wrong, I don't have the time, patience, or desire to recompile my kernel, figure out the config, or test a driver. I want to pickup a phone and pay someone to do if for me. NOW. As Apple sells the "complete widget", I expect them to quickly figure out what's wrong with the box. (The same applies to most other commercial UNIX which is why SUN and SGI are still in business)

          4. The codebase. Scratch OS X and it bleeds BSD. Porting most opensource apps isn't too complicated. Add the growing library of OS X cocoa/carbon apps. Windows on VirtualPC should render decent performance on the new hardware (Please MS, don't kill it!). Finish off with Java. You have a computer that may run every modern piece of software written.

          5. The interface. While this is subjective, OS X brings a lot of quality that Gnome/KDE/etc can't match, and don't get me started on how it compares against Windows... It just 'works'

          Expect to see Apple make a strong play for the workplace. Then see users want to use the same at home. If IBM can supply the faster chips, then prepare to see Apple start to grow in the business and home markets.
      • I feel the opposite, and am jumping for joy over Trolltech's release of QT/Free for the Mac. Out goes Finder to be replaced with Konqueror. Byebye Mail.app, hello Kmail. I already can't stand Dreamweaver, so it would be nice to run Quanta locally instead of over the net on X11 on the Mac.

      • by clifyt (11768) <sonikmatter&gmail,com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:19PM (#6279419) Homepage
        Almost EVERYONE I know that loves linux uses it for the most part on the server -- or as a secondary desktop.

        I work with a large number of geeks...most of them can claim to have a desktop linux box...most of these are cast aside Wind'rs boxes that they upgraded from so they can play the latest greatest games.

        How about comparing how many folks actually buy a box solely for Linux on the Desktop. I think that would be a better telling number. How about getting a spec on folks that use Linux on the Desktop as their primary desktop. If your work requires you to use Windows all day long, you aren't a primary Linux on the Desktop person. In my case, I use my iBook as much as I do my Windows XP box at my job and then come home to my 2 G4s and my single PC Desktops (mainly for playing games).

        Stats can be used to tell any lie. Lets come up with a spec thats fair for all of us...we aren't in it for the marketting are we? Or should we start counting every Mac that was ever produced the way we compare every Linux box that stayed Linux as a single boot for more than a month (before the parents forced ya to reinstall windows because they couldn't figure out how to get TurbTax or Sims to work...note: talking about PARENTS getting them to work, not us :-)

        Personally I don't see the number of Linux users on the desktop actually being anywhere near the Mac users. I'd have to see stats and statistical methods...of which I think its just another propoganda piece to give the writter a little more ink on an otherwise slow week.
        • by sleeper0 (319432) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:31PM (#6280054)
          i think the best way to gauge the real split for desktop OS's is browser impressions for each platform. This way it realistically measures desktops in use and not shipped units or servers. It also catches people who use multiple desktop OS's and should accurately track the split between them.

          Google Zeitgeist [google.com] is a great way to take a look at those figures over time at a pretty universal location.

          For may '03 google lists linux at 1% and mac at 3%. Linux zealots may look at that and say well 2% is miniscule with the rate of growth that won't take long, etc. But go back and look at june 2001 zeitgeist and you'll see similar numbers. Linux with 1% and Mac with 4%

          The conclusion i draw from those numbers is that linux desktop use isnt growing at any significant rate at all, and the only danger Apple has in getting passed on the desktop is if they lose a dramatic amount of market share to windows.

    • Maybe...but $$$ (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siskbc (598067) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:55PM (#6279178) Homepage
      2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac.

      As a linux geek who likes Mac OS, the big difference comes when I can make a decent linux box for between a half and a third of the cost for a decent Mac OS X box. You're right in that Mac users will always be Mac users, and I don't know that all that many people are going to flock to linux desktop, but for geeks it's not so likely to crossover to Mac for desktop use.

      Consider also that linux gets most converts from people who decide to dual boot for a while, end up liking it, and tanks MS. The cost to try linux is as low as free - trying Mac OS X is a significant financial undertaking. So they're not going to get the casual switcher like linux can. Hey, that's how I switched.

      • Re:Maybe...but $$$ (Score:5, Interesting)

        by spirality (188417) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:51PM (#6279697) Homepage
        I stopped using Linux at home when I bought my OS X box almost 2 years ago. I'll never go back to Linux.

        Everything on OS X just works. No fucking with X, no wondering why Evolution can't play nice with Mozilla. There is a well-integrated set of Applications. You can drag and drop from anything to anything. It just works.

        GNOME and KDE have gotten better. I use Redhat 9.0 at work and it's definitely the best Linux box I've ever had, and I've had alot. Starting with Slackware 3, I've used Debian, Mandrake and Redhat.

        None of them even touch OS X in terms of usability.

        Plus no one has anything like iTunes.

        Combine all of that with Fink and the Developer Tools and what more could you possibly ask for? Ahh yes, more games. It'll happen, albiet probably slowly.

        If Apple can stay competitive in terms of hardware speeds I don't see why OS X can't become the leading OS. It is certainly better than any other OS around right now.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:01PM (#6279244) Homepage
      The population of people that aren't Apple zealots is much larger than the population that is. This leaves Linux with a very large pool of potential converts and new users. Meanwhile, it really doesn't take that many more users to surpass Apple's userbase.

    • by robson (60067) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:17PM (#6279398)
      ...done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?

      Of course not. Two reasons:

      1) Apple's followers are nothing less than fanatical; you will pry their Macs from their cold dead fingers.

      2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac.
      You're missing the point. The Mac users don't need to switch to Linux for Linux to overtake Macs as the second-most-used desktop system. All that's needed is for Windows users to swtich over to Linux.
      • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@NOSpam.Gmail.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:34PM (#6280563) Homepage Journal
        Most of the switchers to OSX that I see aren't coming from Windows. They're coming from Linux.

        The old Mac zealots are staying with Apple despite their dislike of it's Unix core (a typical comment is "I got a Mac to get AWAY from things like Unix and command lines". OSX is good enough that they're staying anyway).

        That leaves the new crowd of Apple fans, attracted by it's Unix core. And there's a lot of them from what I've seen. I go to lug meetings around my state, and more and more Ibooks/Powerbooks are popping up, sometimes outnumbering X86 laptops running Linux. This is at LUG meetings, my friend. My own lug's vice president uses a Powerbook now. He only touches Linux now for his servers. Despite the advances of GUIs and window managers for Linux, what I typically see is if that a Linux guy can afford a Mac, he gets one. If he can't, he runs Linux with a shiny KDE or Gnome desktop and talks about how it's "just as good" as a Mac; usually he's looking at the Mac with utter lust as he says this.

        I personally think this is one reason that Apple hasn't released a port of Quicktime for Linux. They're busy wooing Linux users, and doing it very successfully.
      • by mikemcc (4795) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:01PM (#6280758)
        As a Linux geek who has moved to OS X, I would be perfectly happy if Apple's market share stayed the same and Linux's increased.

        I don't think that Linux will cannibalize Mac OS X sales. The two platforms have different strengths.

        I do expect Linux to start making inroads in vertical industries which really just need a dumb terminal which can surf the web. Linux is extremely well situated to acquire a lot of that business, and in fact has already begun to do so.

        I don't see Linux establishing a significant desktop presence in industries where Macs are predominant, at least not until people like Quark or Adobe begin making Linux native versions of their software. I don't see that happening any time soon.

        My two cents,

        MCM
    • by geekee (591277) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:25PM (#6279457)
      Flaws in your arguement.: "1) Apple's followers are nothing less than fanatical; you will pry their Macs from their cold dead fingers."

      even if Apple loses no customers, that doesn't mean linux can pass Apple in user base purely by taking customers away from Windows.

      "2) Apple has seen the light. The costs of embracing Unix underpinnings and âoeMostlyOpenSource,â are going to seriously pay off. Soon, there will be nothing cool that comes out for the Linux Desktop that doesn't soon run on the Mac."

      Even if Linux and MacOS run the exact same software base, the lower cost of hardware and software makes Linux on PC much cheaper than MacOS on a Mac.

      Apple will always have a niche market, but I expect Linux use to grow proportionally to the available commercial titles that support linux and proportional to the ease of use of linux.
  • I would say (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:51PM (#6279120)
    The SCO licensing fees should prove a healthy deterrent to future adoption of Linux. Windows, as the only desktop operating system untainted by the whole Unix mess, is the only secure bet for the future.
  • Answer: (Score:5, Funny)

    by ruiner13 (527499) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:52PM (#6279139) Homepage
    When penguins fly.

    Or when Linus gets the commercial and media attention Steve Jovs gets. Or when Linus developes a reality distortion field of his own.

  • Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BoomerSooner (308737) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:53PM (#6279150) Homepage Journal
    Maybe when it has Photoshop, Shake, Final Cut, Illustrator, Quark, Acrobat, etc...

    Until then OS X has nothing to fear on the desktop.

    Server side is completely different though. I run almost all Linux servers (one windows server and one sun server) but OS X kicks the shit out of Gnome/KDE/Enlightenment/etc... It's consistant, reliable and fast. Not to mention the coolest laptops around.
    • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

      by questamor (653018) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:00PM (#6279229)
      OS X kicks the shit out of Gnome/KDE/Enlightenment/etc... It's consistant, reliable and fast

      This was one of those things I never wanted to believe I had to rely on, the "easy to use desktop". I geek a lot, I hack hardware, and I mess with the innards of my machines a LOT, both software and hardware wise.

      When it comes to my linux desktops, there's always something wrong, something not quite working just as it should. Not until I actually used both fairly equally did I feel a lack of guilt in agreeing with a comment like yours. But that's how it is

      OSX soundly thrashes anything on Linux for plain easy get-things-done ease of use. period.

      Won't stop me trying with linux, however. Too addicted :)
      • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

        by cpeterso (19082) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:41PM (#6279607) Homepage

        I agree, but WHY is that? WHAT do Apple's programmers and designers have the Linux/GNOME programmers do not? Is there any (technical) reason someone could not hack together a smooth Mac OS X work-a-like on top of Linux? Maybe Linux/GNOME users are just blinded by their Unix heritage. But then why isn't Mac OS X blinded by its NEXT heritage?
        • Re:Doubtful (Score:4, Insightful)

          by norweigiantroll (582720) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:50PM (#6279688)
          When I read the parent's parent's post, about something not working right in Linux, I was reminded of my sound recording troubles with Linux. Well Apple has all the knowledge and documentation of the hardware so they can easily make things work right. Plus there's only limited hardware to support.
        • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

          by macwhiz (134202) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:16PM (#6279918)

          Perhaps the problem is that, indeed, Linux folks try to get "someone" to "hack together" a user interface.

          Mac OS X's interface (rough edges and all) is the result of:

          • A team of programmers who are paid to do nothing but write the GUI code, rather than work on it in their spare time as they feel like it
          • Underlying graphics hardware that is predictable (Macs that can run OS X are either going to have ATi or Nvidia cards, not some oddball OEM card dug out of a dusty closet)
          • Years of research into human/computer interaction, psychology, and ease-of-use
          • Almost two decades of experience refining the interface
          • The foresight to write a "bible" that details how various user interface elements work
          • An API that defines user interface elements, instead of various packages of "widgets" that are mixed and matched
          • A philosophy that it's better to have one design that is reasonably good for everyone, so that you can sit down at any Mac and use any program and feel comfortable, rather than skins and themes and mods up the wazoo

          In short, perhaps the reason that open-source software hasn't duplicated the Mac's ease of use and consistency is that it just ain't that easy to pull off!

          From a technical standpoint, a lot of the neat "small touches" of Mac OS X are a feature of basing the GUI on PDF and OpenGL. Duplicating those features with X11 would be difficult at best. Example: When an iChat AV window pops up because someone IM'd you, it's mostly transparent. It truly shows what's underneath the window--even a playing movie. Most X11 programs I've seen that have "transparency" are poor imitations using workarounds.

          As for "blinded by its NeXT heritage," well... the Dock. ;)

        • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Graff (532189) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:21PM (#6279970)
          WHY is that? WHAT do Apple's programmers and designers have the Linux/GNOME programmers do not? Is there any (technical) reason someone could not hack together a smooth Mac OS X work-a-like on top of Linux?

          I'll give you at least 3 very big reasons why Apple has been so successful with making its UI "feel" more complete.

          First of all, Apple has a ton of design and user-interface engineers. These are people whose only job is to sit with their feet up on the desk and think of better ways for users to interact with their systems. With Linux you are dealing with mostly programmers and system engineers. They are great at "hacking together" work-a-likes but they aren't so good at getting all of the pieces to "feel" smooth.

          Secondly, Apple makes the whole widget from start to finish. They design the computer, they design the software, they design the keyboards and mice. They have pretty much full control of all aspects of the computer system and can ensure that all parts work smoothly with as few glitches and inconsistencies as possible. With Linux you are not only dealing with many different versions of the kernel but also with different ways the kernel can be configured, different userlands, and different hardware setups.

          Lastly, Apple has laid down the law and convinced its developers to follow Apple's User Interface Guidelines as closely as possible. Pretty much every program on MacOS has a very similar interface to every other program, making it very easy to learn the basics of working a program and even easier to apply your knowledge to new programs. This sort of user interface consistency is a key factor in making the UI work "smoothly". With Linux you have a hard enough time convincing people to use the same UI skin not to mention the same UI program or the same placement of menus and options from window to window. Programming and UI design on Linux are pretty much left up to each developer and there are so many groups and personalities that it is almost impossible to get them to even agree what end an egg should be broken on.

          Although Linux is a fine operating system, it lacks this kind of fit-and-finish that Apple has managed to pull off. Linux has come a long way with the various UI that are available for it, but it is just much harder for a truly "smooth" UI to come about for Linux. Even simply copying the look of MacOS won't make the Linux UI feel "smooth", there is a lot of behind the scenes factors that affect the feel of an operating system. The overall quality of the programming makes Linux an excellent server platform and the overall UI quality on makes a Macintosh and excellent desktop platform. The two systems should work together instead of fighting against each other, we will all be better off for it.
      • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

        by lostchicken (226656) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:45PM (#6279641)
        Right on.

        I love hacking my machine probably more than the average /.er. I run Linux on my server, and do a fair bit of programming for some of the software it runs. But when it comes time to write an English paper, dammit, I want my computer to just work. I want to launch Word, and use it. I want to press print, and have it print. I want to plug in my USB keyfob thingy and have it pop up as a drive. I want to launch Mathematica, and have it just work. I want Premiere and combustion to do my video work, and not have to worry about codecs.

        I love Linux for just screwing around, and it's great fun. I can do things in it that would not be possible under Win32. But it doesn't "just work" for the simple stuff. I can make it work without any problem, but that's the thing. I don't want to have to "make it work".
  • by Martin Kallisti (652377) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:53PM (#6279153)
    Not to whine or anything, but presently Linux has a niche and Mac OS also has a niche. Some parts of these may touch each other, but there are Mac users who wouldn't touch Linux with a ten foot pole, and vice versa. Right now, Mac OS supports far more commercial productivity software in many areas than Linux, something which many other of the "outmaneuvered" systems have not done. Considering Apples release of the G5 and the continuing improvement of both Linux and OS X, I wouldn't be surprised if Linux and Apple primarily eat Microsoft's market shares, not each others'.
    • by tshak (173364) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:04PM (#6279277) Homepage
      and Mac OS also has a niche

      Ya, the "making slick computers that just work and are userfriendly for the average and power users" niche.

      Just because Apple has a small marketshare doesn't mean that it has a niche. They appeal to the vast majority of Windows' market.
  • by TedTschopp (244839) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:53PM (#6279154) Homepage
    That Steve Jobs will give up? I mean come on. He is the leader of a company whose brand loyality is through the roof. They are making money. And are pushing the boundries... all the time.

    As long as Jobs continues to raise up religious zealots to the cause, Apple will never really be dead.

    Also of note, who says that Jobs can't encorporate all the advantages Linux has into his OS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:54PM (#6279160)
    The configuration files stop changing location from release to release.

    I am constantly asked by people how to do things with Linux, my response is always the same, which version do you have?

    Face it, the desktop market is not self supporting. Until support is easier with Linux, the alternatives are worth the money.
  • by stonebeat.org (562495) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:54PM (#6279163) Homepage
    yea only if you beam all the mac fanatics to a different planet. otherwise i dont see any mac fanatic switching to any other OS :)
  • by Davak (526912) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:54PM (#6279168) Homepage
    Apple will never go away. Apple has built a loyal fan base that will stick with it through thick and thin.

    I am not an apple fan... but I appreciate what apple brings to the table.

    That apple fan base is going to remain constant. Apple is safe and it works--easily.

    Linux and windows systems CAN be built to work and to work well... however, they also allow a lot of tweakage. A large portion of the users feel they have a muscle car, and they want to tweak, overclock, and customize that bastard of all of its worth.

    A world with linux, apple, and microsoft--having the three of them is much better than having any two. New ideas, new flow, new users.

    Davak
  • Too Hard (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zarxos (648322) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:55PM (#6279174)
    That's cool that Linux is getting a bigger market share, but I still feel that it's too hard to use for the average computer user. I can use it just fine, but I don't know if someone like my mom or grandparents could. That's pretty much the main place Apple pulls ahead right now. That may change in the future, and I don't want to start a big argument, but that's just how I feel things stand right now.
    • Re:Too Hard (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:23PM (#6279443)
      I'm sure you will get a bunch of people coming in here to flame you for that, but I want to say that I agree wholeheartedly. Of the non-Linux users out there, I would consider myself in the top 1% or .1% of people who would feel comfortable using Linux. I'm a Comp Sci student and have had exposure to many different *nix environments. I'm a Mac guy living in a Windows world, so I'm used to having to adapt to new computing environments if need be. I've been using computers about as long as I've been able to ride a bike.

      Despite all this, whenever I've tried Linux it has never felt like I could make my computer truly mine. On a few occasions, either due to curiosity, boredom, or a spare HD, I've tried to install and experiment with a flavor of Linux. With any of my Macs, I feel at home on my computer. But with a Linux machine, there is always something little going wrong that makes things a pain in the ass for me. It may be that X11 is throwing a little fit over drivers. It may be dependency-hell. It may be that KDE or GNOME don't feel right from an ease of use standpoint. Whatever the case, while I get most of the stuff done that I wanted, it just caused too many headaches in the process to be worth it.

      The other major problem in my opinion is the install. Admittedly, I haven't tried Red Hat/Yellow Dog which is supposed to have the most newbie friendly installer, but I've done Mandrake which I've heard is pretty close. I've also tried Debian and mkLinux. The Mandrake install was nice until something went wrong. I couldn't get X working without some hacking, not exactly the setup I would expect your average user to work through. They just want to be able to click a few boxes and have it work. Debian is actually a pretty nice installer once you get used to it, but the first time can be intimidating.

      While this may come across as bashing on Linux, that's not my point. Linux definitely has its strong points, but ease of installation, setup, and use is not one of them. If Linux people really want to see it take over the desktop, this is the area to focus on.
  • by |>>? (157144) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:57PM (#6279205) Homepage
    This is all really big news,
    1. Apple software runs on Apples.
    2. Linux software runs on Apples, Intel, Toasters and Watches.

    I'm not sure why this is a big surprise... I'm more interested to know when Linux will overtake Windows on the desktop.

  • I love Linux. I breathe Linux. I make a business out of migrating people from Windows to Linux. My question is though, why should we even worry about whether or not Linux will surpass OS X in desktop usage or sales. If it's for acceptance in the marketplace for newer applications being ported, great. If it's for bragging rights, bad. Remember, it's about the best tool(s) to get the job done, not market dominance. We're not looking to eliminate competition (well, maybe SCO but that's another story for later on in the day), we're trying to add choices and solutions. We shouldn't be striving for all out dominance, we should be striving for the best tools for the job and let the people who need it decide.

    Ok, I'm done with my rant. Mod this as you see fit. This isn't meant to be flamebait or a troll but I can definately see how it can be taken as one...

    CliffH
  • by sloth jr (88200) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:59PM (#6279227)
    Linux' chance to supplant Apple is going to happen at the corporation, not in the home. Companies have a large investment of ix86 that they will be loathe to throw away. If Linux does overcome Apple's market share (this seems possible), it will happen in business.

    From a technical viewpoint, Linux doesn't offer much to the home user:

    Aqua's a nicer interface (of course this is subjective), and X servers are still freely available for it

    Most (but not all) software for Linux can port easily to MacOS X

    Apple's got better game support than Linux. Barely.

    Peripheral support is superb under MacOS X - plug-and-play actually works.

    sloth jr

  • by tgd (2822) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:00PM (#6279231)
    Ran a little Win95 back in the day, and I'm stuck using Windows at work... but suffice it to say, I've got a LOT of Linux experience.

    I can say, its not ever going to happen. Every single person I've ever talked to about it who believed otherwise hasn't used OSX.

    I bought a mac, and haven't touched my Linux desktop since then. I run some programs off it via X once in a while, but there's no way in a matter of a year, or even likely five years Linux can catch up to the quality of a desktop OS produced by a company that actually hires UI experts.

    Linux will always run my servers, but I'd be shocked if it ever runs one of my real desktops again. (Its happily running on my webplayers, though)
    • by Roofus (15591) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:05PM (#6279816) Homepage
      I agree with you 100%. I got my first Mac on Friday - a 12" Powerbook. After only 3 days of using it, I can without a doubt say that OS X is the nicest OS I have ever used. I've got a good amount of experience with Windows, Linux, and every flavor of BSD. None of them compare to the experience that OS X gives.

      Add that to the fact that this powerbook is the most elegant piece of hardware I've ever used, and you've got a winning combination.

      I just installed nmap last night on my Powerbook with one command: apt-get install nmap. In 3 days I've become a Mac convert, and I'm quickly on my way to becoming a fanatic. Right now, I've got no plans to ever go back to Windows or Linux.
  • More Work (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WatertonMan (550706) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:01PM (#6279247)
    While Linux is making strides (check out Ximian) it still has a long way to go. It really depends upon how it is to be used. But realistically the "regular folk" will not be using Linux for several reasons.

    1. Much missing software. (Office, Photoshop, etc). Some of these have Linux equivalents but they really aren't the same. i.e. no graphics professional would use Gimp instead of Photoshop. There isn't an equivalent of Illustrator or Freehand. OpenOffice is still very limited in opening up Excel and Word files. (And is clunkier in my opinion)
    2. Too much configuration. It is hard for Slashdot folks to realize, but keeping Linux up to date and configuring it is a royal pain in the ass. I consider myself computer savvy and I still have problems with Linux all too often!

    Compare this to the Mac. Everything works the way you expect it. Plus you do get nearly everything that Linux provides. So it really is the best of both worlds. The only downside is that the hardware ends up being a couple hundred more than an equivalent PC system. And if you roll your own box (which most can't) then the price difference is even higher. That's a big deal to many people.

  • What did it do??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by evilviper (135110) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279264) Journal
    Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris

    Would anyone mind telling me exactly what Linux "already has done" to the above OS?

    Tru64 and HP/UX were both doomed as soon as the Compaq/HP merger happened, and I don't think things would be much different even if Linux wasn't around.

    How about SGI? It doesn't seem to be an example of where Linux beat Irix, it seems to be an example of where ia32 systems beat out propritary systems in price/performance.

    As for AIX, IBM may be doing a lot of talking about how Linux will eventually replace AIX, but it isn't happening now (nor do I suspect it will ever happen) so I don't think that's much of an example.

    I'm not sure why Solaris is on this list... Sun is still going strong, and Solaris is doing just fine.
  • Someday it might... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by extrarice (212683) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279268) Homepage Journal
    [quote]
    Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?
    [/quote]

    Linux may one day pass Apple by on the Desktop arena. But that day will come only when Linux can be used by those without intimate knowledge of their PC.

    Think about it this way:
    When the average person is driving his car, he's not thinking about the intricacies of the engine that powers his car. The only things he thinks about are (1) steering wheel, (2) pedals, (3) signals, (4) gear shifter. In other words, he's only thinking about the "interface" to the engine, and not the engine itself.

    The average person wants his computer to be this way. Turn it on and do what needs to be done, and not have to figure out what why package so-and-so says "failed depencendy" during an install, or figure out all the work arounds needed in order to view, say, a Microsoft Word document.

    Currently, Linux is no match for the ease of use that Apple and Microsoft (compared to Linux) offer in the desktop market. If the Linux community really wants their favorite OS to be accepted by the average Joe, the presentation (i.e. interface, documentation, simplicity of design) needs a lot of work. KDE is getting there, but it still can't match Apple or Microsoft. Try again when my grandmother can look at Linux, and with a short time (say, 30 minutes) of on-screen tutorials and simple instructions, she can send Email.
  • From the 'article' (Score:4, Informative)

    by BigBadBri (595126) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:03PM (#6279274)
    "IBM, DEC, SCO, and finally Sun have lost the non-Windows portion of the server market to Linux..."

    So some of the lower-end boxes, that can be easily load-balanced, are being set up using Linux rather than Solaris / AIX / HP-UX.

    What precisely is the 'Windows portion' of the server market, anyway?

    Certainly not big-assed application servers that are the meat and drink of the big Unix vendors - in fact the 'Windows portion' of the server market looks tailor made for Linux replacement.

    IBM probably isn't too bothered - the ability to run multiple Linux images on their big iron is a major selling point.

    Bah - Slate is a M$ owned site, anyway.

  • Yes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog@gGINSBERGmail.com minus poet> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:04PM (#6279279) Homepage Journal
    ...there will be more Linux boxes in the field than OS X machines. Duh: they're cheaper.

    This being said, no: Linux won't make Mac go away. Mac is solvent, well marketed, and--after today--on the cutting edge. People will still be willing to step up for a high-end Mac, particularly in Apple's traditional markets.

    As an aside, I think a lot of Linux folks will wanna try PPC distributions on Apple's blazing new hardware.
  • by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:04PM (#6279287)
    ...but I just don't see this happening in the long-term. Up until now, Apple has been reeling from Motorola's catastrophes and leftover problems from the Stone Age (aka pre Jobs' return). On the other hand, Linux is getting great press and has made great strides, both in terms of acceptance and the actual product. Given the abundance of hardware out there that Linux runs on (namely x86 for purposes of this discussion) and being free as in beer, many people have tried and liked Linux. It is also important to note that in the past few years when Linux has gained the most on the desktop have also been coupled with a recession where people haven't been as willing to buy new computers. It comes as no surprise to me that Linux might pass Apple next year.

    On the other hand, I see a very bright future for Apple. This article couldn't be more timely as today we Apple loyalists heard some of the best news since OS X came out: the shackles of Motorola have been cast off for pure IBM goodness. With the G5 and OS X, I think Apple is unstoppable. Apple already sports the nicest laptops, and now the desktop offerings are equally awe inspiring. One of the biggest complaints about Apple has been that the are overpriced and underpowered. With the G5 fixing the power problem, I think the economy and IBM will help with the price. IBM reportedly can produce the 970 much cheaper than Motorola could produce the G4, and I wouldn't be surprised if Apple tried to pass on these savings in the process of trying to carve out more than their traditional niche. Also, if/when the economy gets back into swing, more people will have the money and be willing to go for a pricier Mac if they believe it to be a superior machine.
  • by Tokerat (150341) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:05PM (#6279294) Journal

    ...but being based on BSD and such, it's pretty easy to port Linux software to OS X. Apple's stuff it more expensive, so for existing installations (i.e. business desktops) Linux has a huge advantage of working on existing hardware and being free. However, i see Mac OS X as a complement to systems like Linux and BSD. For home use, I'm not sure Linux will surpass OS X, simply because most people still are not familiar with it.

    If Apple's prices where lower ($1999 for an entry level G5? I love Macs, but Jesus tapdancing Christ...) they'd beat everyone in a heartbeat.
  • by cesarcardoso (1139) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:07PM (#6279310) Homepage Journal
    ...but outside the Empire, Linux desktop usage is gaining an incredible momentum. Not only in Germany [observer.co.uk], France and all over Europe, but - and that's really interesting - in Asia and Latin America. No wonder the article tells about a next year turn; all those Linux deployments in India, China, Germany and Brazil will start to appear in 2004-5.
  • Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?

    <sarcasm>
    Of course it will! And it's the wealth of commercial-quality software packages that will get it there! Rumba, Photoshop, PageMaker, Framemaker, Flash 6, AutoCAD, MS-Office, Lotus Notes, Cisco VPN client, Acrobat full, Kazaa... These are all cool pieces of software that run better under Linux than Mac. NOT!
    </sarcasm>

    Seriously, Linux is great and all but to compare it to Mac is the height of arrogance. Look at Freshmeat [freshmeat.net] some time. There are six times more projects under Software Development Tools than under Office / Business. There are more damn desktop environments than office projects! 435 text editors and only 66 pieces under Artistic Software. Mplayer is great and all but it still doesn't compare to Media Player. And it's the best there is!

    Choice is great and if someone wants to write YATE (Yet Another Text Editor) then go wild. But to suggest Linux will surpass Mac on the desktop within the year? I've never owned a Mac and think that's ludicrous!

  • by greygent (523713) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:10PM (#6279334) Homepage
    When will the Amiga surpass Mac OS X?

    This story is almost flamebait, and heavy on the ridiculous.
  • It's simple really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JudgeFurious (455868) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:12PM (#6279349)
    Speaking as a Mac user who started out and spent better than ten years on Windows before switching my desktop machine to a Mac and as an administrator who takes care of Windows and Linux boxen at work I'm saying it makes no difference to me if Linux passes Macintosh in market share on the desktop.

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. The percentage points Linux makes in desktop marketshare won't be coming from Mac users. They'll be coming from Windows users.

    That's the "it's all good" about this situation. There's a ton of Windows market share out there to eat up so there's enough to grow a healthy Mac and Linux following. The two will play together far better than Windows ever played with anyone and the computing world will be the better for it receeding.

    Macs, Penguins, doesn't matter. Better computing for everyone if this bastard (Windows) goes down.
  • by Soong (7225) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:16PM (#6279383) Homepage Journal
    If Linux gains market share, it's not taking from the MacOS user base, it's taking from windows.

    Or maybe that's just my rose colored classes that say windows will die and we'll have a MacOS+Linux Nice-user-machine+cheap-server computing utopia.
  • by charvolant (224858) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:17PM (#6279401) Homepage
    Will Linux do to OS X what it already has done to Tru64, Irix, HP/UX, AIX and Solaris and emerge as the only viable competitor to Windows on the desktop?

    Not until Linux (and Unix in general) becomes truely fanatical about a quality user interface. This includes such things as consistently protecting the user against dumb accidents (no more unrecoverable 'rm * .o' errors) a really consistent interface (no more Athena/KDE/GTK/... toolkits as the whim takes the programmer) and, generally, not just papering over the cracks but ensuring that the UI is really seamless.

    But I'm not sure that this is even possible in open-source land. The natural inclination is to do things your way, rather than the way laid down by the Great Committee. This is great in the sense that it has made amateur programming fun again. "Amateur" in the sense of for fun, rather than for profit; no implications on the quality of the software are intended. But it's not so great in that the user has to come to terms with the myriad incoherent ways of doing things that make up each work of art that is an open-source program.

    Linux (at the moment) is wonderful for the community of Morlocks [cryptonomicon.com] (of which I am a member). But Apple, if it wasn't so expensive, is still the only company serious about being "the computer for everybody else".

  • Alternate theory (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jgalun (8930) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:25PM (#6279460) Homepage
    It's interesting to wonder whether Linux will beat Apple. But I have to wonder if it's not more likely that Linux will beat Windows, with Apple remaining in second place.

    Let me explain. I am a former Amiga and Mac user. I now use a Windows PC. When I bought my new computer, the most important factors in my decision were that it was cheaper than a Mac but easier to use (since I know Windows already) than Linux.

    But imagine if Lindows computers expanded up the food chain a bit, and Linux expanded its desktop share some more. Now we have a world where you can get a pre-installed Linux PC that has good vendor support for less than a Windows PC costs, because you're not paying the Microsoft tax.

    Would I then buy a Linux box? Very possibly. After all, at least in concept I much prefer using free software than being tied into a monopolist's offerings.

    And I believe there are a lot of Windows users who use Windows because it's cheap and everywhere. But if Linux is cheaper and everywhere, and it's pre-installed on a wide range of PCs, then they might go Linux.

    But in that scenario, Apple remains as is (because Mac users are willing to pay a premium for the overall Mac experience). In fact, to my mind, Apple's position is strengthed.

    What's Apple's great advantage? That it controls both the hardware and software, and under Jobs' iron fist makes sure that everything works really, really well together. There are never any hassles, because the MacOS only has to support a very limited range of hardware and meet the exact range of user demands Jobs decides to meet, rather than being everything to everyone.

    Now, if the great downside of Windows PCs now is that, because there are so many varieties of hardware/software, it's hard to get them to work flawlessly (so many conflicts/confusing issues), how much greater is that problem when, instead of a couple versions of Windows to deal with, there are the dozens of different Linux versions to work with?

    Relatively, Apple's position is strengthened. Won't it be worth it for many people at that point to pay a premium to have Apple create a software/hardware package that spares them all those annoying incongruities of a Lintel PC?

    Just a thought, explained poorly...hopefully you'll get the idea.
  • Troll Article. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vladimus (583117) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:31PM (#6279518) Journal
    Seems a bit counter productive to pit Linux against Apple. These communities are far more similar, especially now, than they are different. It's best to stay united and keep technologies as compatible as possible.

    Case in point: I installed Mandrake on a PC. I connected the PC to a printer which we found incompatible with Mac OS X. Once I set up the printer using CUPS on Mandrake, ZeroConf (i.e. Rendezvous) automatically shared the printer on the network, effectively making it compatible with OS X!

    This kind of compatibility strengthens both sides, and validates each. Each operating system going it alone will not take either out of niche status.

  • by Michael.Forman (169981) * on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:40PM (#6279595) Homepage Journal

    I'm a Linux user. No I'm really a Linux user. I currently have four machines. I'm running it at as my primary desktop at work [sandia.gov] and as a server [michael-forman.com], primary (gaming) workstation, and diskless PVR at home. I've modded [michael-forman.com] my series-one TiVo. I installed slackware in the days when one had to wrangle 13 floppies.

    With that in mind, I recently I purchased a maxed out 17" Powerbook on my research funds at work and have been amazed at the quality of MacOS hardware and software. I get the true Unix experience with terminals, perl, X11, ssh, vim, and the rest along with an exceptional GUI. The best part about MacOS is that it just works. I've got a Sun Blade 2000 on my desk that's a pain. I've been trying to install KDE on it for the better part of a month and I paid $3k for a graphics card that's slower than my nVidia GeForce 3. I upgraded SuSE on my home Linux workstation and once again I have to recompile the kernel to stop my mystery lockups. (One of these days I should write down my sound-card settings.) MacOS provides the best user experience of any Unix OS.

    Will I get rid of Linux? No. There's a quality-cost trade off that will always guarantee the presence of both. The ratio is a function of the environment and thus the evolutionary stable strategy that the competing systems reach. When will Linux pass MacOS? Both soon and never. Linux, due to its low-cost software and hardware, will outnumber MacOS soon but Linux will never pass MacOS in quality. Ever.

    Linux : MacOS :: VW : Mercedes
    Michael. [michael-forman.com]
  • God I hope not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crivens (112213) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:57PM (#6279748)
    God I hope not. Apple's desktops are much nicer than those of Linux. Linux desktops and applications lack cohesion; even a pure KDE desktop is a pain to use. For example, I tried to download a zipped trailor movie for a game. I double clicked the ZIP file in Konqueror file manager and double clicked the movie file inside. When MPlayer tried to load the file it couldn't because it didn't exist; Ark didn't extract it to a temporary file.

    It's basic (staple) things like this that Linux fails so badly on. I know I'm going to start a flame war and get lots of hateful messages but one of the reasons that Linux fails in this area is because there are so many desktop environments and so many applications that don't work together.
  • NO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:13PM (#6279886)
    I'm a university student. I'm looking to replace Windows and I like that OSX is 'Nix based. I'm seriosly considering buying a MAC now (I was waiting for the announcement before making a descision). I don't think Linux will replace the desktop for:

    1) The X font management sucks. I write a lot of essays and need access to fonts for some papers.

    2) DLL hell. I use Gnome and KDE sometimes. Mostly I try to use a few of the programs from each. GNU cash, KWORD .... which requires a lot of libraries == unnessary bloat, slowness and confusion when source compiling.

    3) Commercial software. Say what you will of Open Source software. There are times when I want/need access to commercial software. Photoshop, Word, etc are all available for the OSX not for Linux. It will be a long time before this happens.

    4) Hardware support. Mac have - albeit - limited hardware choice compared to Windows. But, getting hardware to work w/ Linux or FreeBSD means recompiling, getting newer kernels. I don't mind doing it but see it as a waste of time.

    5) Better integration. GUI apps are much better integrated in OSX than in X.

    6) Appearance. OS X just looks good. Gnome, KDE make me want to puke. Toolbars, message prompts, etc, are all different to name a few.

    Will Linux/BSD rival OSX in a year? NO. Will it be widely adopted? No. Will the MAC be widely adopted? Probably a bit more.
  • Yes and No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mellon (7048) * on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:27PM (#6280019) Homepage
    In one sense, Linux and Apple are both the same product - Unix, with a GUI. In another sense, though, they are different - Linux' strength is that it's open source, and Linux' two most Apple-like GUIs are both strongly slanted toward being a replacement for Windows.

    Having recently switched from OS X to Linux, I can tell you that the switch would be maddening for the average Apple user. Nothing is where you expect it to be. You have to hit the control key to get stuff that ought to be on the command key, and there's no option key. Preferences are in the wrong place. The dock doesn't work. These aren't intended as criticisms - I'm just trying to show you how an Apple->Linux switcher would see things.

    KDE has an "apple mode", but its resemblance to the Apple UI is very limited. Basically, they add a menu bar, which is clever, but just swap control and meta, which is not. It was easier for me to use the default KDE setup than the "apple-like" setup, even though I'd been using OS X for a year and a half prior to switching to Linux. I wound up switching to Gnome anyway, because it's prettier, and after a year and a half with Apple, I'm used to pretty and it's hard on my eyes when something isn't.

    However, having just set up a couple of WinXP computers for some friends who weren't quite ready for Linux yet (they *were* interested, but it just isn't time for them yet), I can attest that the WinXP UI and the Linux UI are much more compatible - I can easily imagine someone switching from Windows to Linux. I think at this point they'd still be a little frustrated, but it's *very* close now. If you're a Windows user who's not a geek, but you have a friend who's a wizard to set up your Linux system, I think you can really use it at this point. I wouldn't have said that last year.

    So I think that realistically, Linux is going to do two things: get new people who can't afford an expensive computer with 'doze and 'office, but can afford a cheap computer with Linux and OpenOffice. And it's going to cannibalize 'doze sales where people are just tired of paying all the stupid license fees and agreeing to all the stupid licenses. As the Linux GUIs get better and better, it's going to become a realistic platform for more and more non-geeks.

    Having said that, I miss my Mac, and I don't think I'll hold out using Gnome much longer. GNOME and KDE both have a long way to go before they approach the ease-of-use of the Mac, even though they are both really very good.

    Sigh.
  • Apple and Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smallpaul (65919) <paul.prescod@net> on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:48PM (#6280677)
    I find it odd that so many people react violently to the idea that Linux could beat Apple on the desktop. Of course, Linux will not wipe out Apple on the desktop. But I see no reason to doubt that Linux could surpass Apple on the desktop for some of the same reasons that new versions of Windows do: a little cheaper, a little bit better economies of scale on the hardware side, easier migration path for pre-existing hardware, dual-boot opportunities, etc. Do you really think the price issue is irrelevant to an IT manager figuring out how to fit a thousand desktops with a Word-compatible word processor? He's not going to look to Apple to save money. He's going to look to Linux and he's not going to deploy Linux on the desktop unless he can get such huge volume to make the transition worth the effort. That's what happened in Munich? When is the last time Apple had a win like that? And more important: does it matter? Can't Apple and Linux both succeed?

    I mean even if the article portrays the situation as "success for Linux means failure for Apple", we should be smart enough to realize that that isn't true. Success for Linux means more portable software like Mozilla and OpenOffice. Success for Linux means that products start to be judged on their ability to work on multiple platforms again (that's almost totally fallen away these days). Success for Linux means that grunts can have cheap Unix boxes running free office software and managers and hotshots can have lickable ones also running Unix.

    I don't think that the Macintosh has in recent memory cracked 10% of the market and today I think that even 5% would be progress. It would be sad to think that people out there have such low expectations for Linux that they say "no way will Linux ever beat Apple." Guess what: price matters more than quality and IT managers today see either Linux or Mac on the desktop as more expensive because of the support costs. But Linux can gradually eat away at those support costs. The Macintosh is forever stuck with the license and hardware costs. But that's okay. I don't care if a secretary in Munich uses a Mac. I use one and that's good enough for me. If she can save some money using Linux then I'm happy for her too!

  • Laptop market (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mke (28120) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:42PM (#6281069)
    An area that seems to have been glossed over in this thread is the laptop market. The reality is that running linux on your laptop is tough. The hardware isn't really upgradable anyway, so why not go mac?

    I've seen a real increase in the number of powerbooks and ibooks that people are carrying around with them, especially in technical circles. It's unix without the hassle, in a spiffier piece of plastic/titantium/aluminum.

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