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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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  • 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.

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

    by siskbc (598067) on Monday June 23, 2003 @06:55PM (#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.

  • Cohesiveness (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mister_tim (653773) on Monday June 23, 2003 @06:56PM (#6279188)
    For an end-user, particularly someone unfamiliar with computers, the big advantage of Macs is that they are easy to use. The hardware is all pre-configured and the operating system is fairly intuitive. You can tweak it if you like, but it's not necessary for many people. It's possible that Linux might one day be able to compete with that, but unlilkey.
  • Cost (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Alizarin Erythrosin (457981) on Monday June 23, 2003 @06:57PM (#6279203)
    If the Mac hardware wasn't so freaking expensive or the OS ran on x86 I think OSX would have lots more market share. Heck, I know I would at least give it a try.
  • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by questamor (653018) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:00PM (#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 :)
  • by tgd (2822) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:00PM (#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 jedidiah (1196) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:01PM (#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.

  • Windows User (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mwolff (594593) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:02PM (#6279252)
    I have been a windows user for a long time and now am switching to Linux. Everyday I become more and more attracted to Linux.

    At the same time my attraction for Linux grows, I find myself more and more repulsed by windows. The repulsion, interestingly, makes me want to use Apple computers more too.

    Perhaps Linux will just show people there are other options than windows and as a result make Apple's popularity rise?

    Maybe Linux will help increase Apple's market share?
    Linux, HUH! What is it good for? Absolutely Everything!
  • Someday it might... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by extrarice (212683) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:03PM (#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.
  • by rump_carrot (644292) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:04PM (#6279281)
    For me, Linux already has surpassed MacOSX, since I avoid Apple like the plague. (Why trade proprietary software dependence for proprietary software/hardware dependence?) Unfortunately, the other 9 Biochemistry profs here are Apple Addicts. What is needed for a full conversion for researchers/scientists? Absolutely must have Microsoft Word and Powerpoint compatability (CodeWeavers is close to solving this). However, EndNote (for writing papers/grants) and SigmaPlot (for graphing data) are still not covered. One thing that would finish the deal for scientists/educators is a good Apple emulator that runs on Linux - there is plenty of good/old Mac specific Molecular Biology Software that people are loath to give up. Anyway, I don't think Linux ascendency is as far fetched as some of you Mac people do. We'll see. Running the underdog operating system since Tandy CoCo.
  • Linux vs. Apple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ignatus (669972) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:08PM (#6279319)
    Well, Linux will certainly not push apple aside. Macintosh has a great product. But the price is what most people keep from buying one.
    Linux (and opensource in particular) can become a true competitor to microsoft. Unlike Microsoft and Macintosh, it is less independent to the global economy. Large compagnies allready consider switching to linux, because of the cost of licences and support.
    If linux can be developed to a powerfull yet usefull OS, Microsoft can truely fear it's progress.
  • Re:It might not... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sniggly (216454) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:09PM (#6279330) Journal
    True - linux people might buy the new G5 and dual boot that osx/linux but why ditch osx when it will soon support X11 natively and so pretty much all linux apps (QT, KDE already is running on OSX) will be trivial to port.

    It might just be that OSX will compete with KDE and Gnome, not with linux...

    I run KDE 3.1 on a 400 mhz G4 powerbook and it is very speedy and extremely good. I cant imagine what a 64 bit linux will do on a dual 2.0ghz ibm apple other than blow everyone away!

  • by Master Bait (115103) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:11PM (#6279344) Homepage Journal
    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 ignatus (669972) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:13PM (#6279361)
    Doesn't he realize that we are on the same side?
    I do not agree.
    Without Microsoft, Macintosh would have got the monopoly. And that won't be a better situation. Computers would cost more, and Macintosh would not only controll the softwaremarket, but the hardwaremarked too.
  • Apple is a system (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mAIsE (548) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:16PM (#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
  • Re:Maybe...but $$$ (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:18PM (#6279405)

    This argument seems to support the theory that linux could someday significantly surpass Apple in market share, but still not affect Apple. If all the switchers come from Windows because of the low barrier to entry, then the decreased market share will come almost completely at the expense of Windows, and not Macintosh.

    As it's easier to port from linux to Mac than from Windows to Mac, moving lots of Windows users to linux may even help Apple's market viability. Another possibility is linux being a stepping-stone to Macintosh, once they're pried away from Windows and want to look around at the possibilities.

    In any case, I don't see any of this as a bad thing for Apple or the Macintosh.

  • 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.
  • Matters to Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by msimm (580077) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:21PM (#6279426) Homepage
    Having a competitor who gives their software away, has tens of thousands of independant developers and uses a fairly different business model has got to scare the sh©t out of them.

    If Linux eclipses OSX you can expect to see some wierd marketing tricks from Microsoft. The question is will they continue selling their OS or give it away to compete and focus on applications.
  • Re:Too Hard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MalleusEBHC (597600) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:23PM (#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 geekee (591277) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:25PM (#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.
  • Re:No (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:27PM (#6279481)
    The thing here is, Apple makes most of their money from hardware sales... buying a Mac to run Linux would still make them very happy keep them in business. I don't see Linux as being the threat to Apple that this (MSN biased?) article seems to make us believe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:33PM (#6279537)
    I bought an iBook two years ago, with the intent of running Linux on it. Set up Mac OS X and Linux partitions.

    Two weeks later, I was running Mac OS X pretty much all the time. Two months later, and I reinstalled the laptop to reclaim the disused space on the Linux partition.

    Mac OS X is what Linux should be aiming to be: robust, easy to configure, easy to use, and with the power under the hood that you can still get to if you need it. Right now, I'm saving the pennies for the day that the G5 is released in Australia; when that happens, I'm going to be paying a visit to the nearest Apple store.

    The only reason I'm using Linux at the moment is because my desktop is a PC. If the powers that be were prepared to buy me a Mac, I could do everything I need to do as a Unix sysadmin. Including handling those pesky Office files that they insist on sending me every so often. (Yes, OpenOffice does the trick... but Office for OS X is an absolute dream. Credit where credit's due, folks.)

    Linux overtaking OS X? There's a lot of work to be done before it happens.

  • Comparisons (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Revvy (617529) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:36PM (#6279573) Homepage
    Comparable.....GNU/Linux.......Apple
    Hardware.......Almost Any......Apple Only
    Compat.........Custom drivers..Plug and Play
    Installation...Troublesome.....Infantile
    Updates........Troublesome.....Infantile
    Support........Many people.....AppleCare
    Applications...Many............Many More
    Cost...........Free (uh-huh)...$129
    Man in Charge..Nobody..........Steve

    Where that leaves me is with a definite win on the desktop for Apple. Highly simplified, but that's the point, isn't it?
    Troll: If you want to fsck with your computer, get Linux. If you want to use your computer, get a Mac.
  • Re:Doubtful (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cpeterso (19082) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:41PM (#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:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by axxackall (579006) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:46PM (#6279647) Homepage Journal
    Not so long. Windows is loosing the market of corporate IT-supported desktops. Not to OSX, of course - fanatics and zealots are not working in big corporations.
  • Re:Maybe...but $$$ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spirality (188417) on Monday June 23, 2003 @07:51PM (#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 harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:00PM (#6279776) Homepage
    First thing to realize is that it is all about look and feel. Down at the kernel and utility level, Linux is as good or better than OS X or Windows right now. Their advantage is in what they put on top of the kernel and base system.

    Take an arbitrary commercial OS maker. Could be MS. Could be Apple. Could be Sun.

    Suppose they do some particular thing better than Linux, and better than the other commercial OS makers. If that thing is good enough...it can kill the competing commercial OS makers.

    However, it cannot kill Linux. Linux is good enough, and has attracted enough developer attention, that it will continue, even if Windows or OS X or Solaris or something else is better by some measure, simply based on price (we talk about "free as in speech, not free as in beer", but a lot of people want that free beer, too!).

    So, Linux will always be out there, perhaps playing catchup as the Gnome or KDE (or other) people snarf up good ideas from OS X or Windows and clone them...but eventually it will catch up. Sure, Windows and OS X will have moved forward by then...but the improvements are getting smaller and smaller as time goes by. Eventually, the Linux GUIs will be close enough that having a nicer GUI will not be a factor for Windows or OS X, at least as far as the functionality and objective qualities of the GUI go.

    The proprietary companies like Apple and MS can put more money into aesthetics than Linux developers can, so they will have nicer looking interfaces, but eventually that is where all of their advantage will be: they will have prettier icons or nicer animation.

    At that point, Linux wins big...because people will put up with averageness of looks to save money.

  • by Roofus (15591) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:05PM (#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.
  • by taxman457f (678351) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:06PM (#6279826)
    The article links to absolutely no hard facts that linux is even growing on the desktop much less overtaking MacOsX.

    I'm not saying desktop perfection is even what linux should aim towards, but come on. This just proves that the editors don't even read the articles. The article *says* it links to an article regarding linux overtaking OSX, but it doesn't.

    Sorry Charlies, but linux is nowhere even in the ballpark of as polished on the desktop as OSX

    That does not mean that it can't be a viable desktop either for a geek or after it has been heavily tweeked to act like it should and work correctly, but that is not what it will take to be widespread on the desktop. I mean seriously, when is the last time you sat down to an untweaked linux GUI and everything just worked? Now how about flawlessly, and cohesively like OSX?.

    It doesn't yet and linux will not overtake OSX on the desktop because of it.

    Now I'll get modded to oblivion because I've spoken against the pharisees, but seriously, one more severely misleading topic description down, many more to come.
  • by autopr0n (534291) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:10PM (#6279858) Homepage Journal
    Linux's many UI's could easily be described as overwhelming, and are definely inconsistent with each other. But I consider at least 3 UI's superior to OS X's Aqua. They are (in order or superiority); Enlightenment, gnome, and kde.

    Of course you do. Some people just love screwing around with computers and this is just one more avenue. But some people just want their computers to work. And for these people Linux is never going to their first choice. OSX, however may very well be.

    OSX and Linux target different niches. The reason that Linux killed those other unixes is because Linux could do the same thing that they did for free. (and lets not forget that it killed them in the office, where bottom line calculations are a lot more merciless)
  • NO (Score:5, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:13PM (#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.
  • by The Analog Kid (565327) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:14PM (#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.
  • Yes and No. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mellon (7048) * on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:27PM (#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.
  • by Golias (176380) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:35PM (#6280095)
    (coming from someone who sold mac's and pc's during the .com boom.) hardly anyone spends more than $1500 on a computer these days

    You must not be much of a salesman.

    Joe Consumer prefers $600 HP boxen from Circuit City, which will have critical failures on at least some of the parts two or three times in the first year.

    Joe Geek builds his PC out of parts from his favorite budget component vendor (either local or mail-order)

    But there are many, many more people who don't want a shoddy budget PC, and dont want a '1337 beer-cooled hobbyist-built system. They want something that allows them to easilly manage digital video, pictures and audio files while doing all the usual mundane tasks (e-mail with spam protection, web browsing with pop-up blocking), and they don't want to fuck around with driver, config, and library files every damn time they try to do something new. For a computer that makes all that possible, they don't mind spending a little more money. These are the people that Apple is selling to, and it's working. IIRC, Apple has made a profit in all but two quarters all the way through the .com bust of the past three years, something which no other personal computer maker can claim. If I told you 5 years ago that Apple would still be chugging along in 2003, while Compaq would be bought out and liquidated over the same period, you probably would not have believed me, but here they are, still selling computers that are "too expensive" by the truckloads, to consumers who obviously perceive that they have more value than their Windows-based counterparts.

    P.S. Yes, the "beer-cooled" thing was a Megatokyo reference. If you didn't get it, quit bothering with /. threads and go read the MT archives... you will get a lot more laughs out of that than anything here.

  • Dyslexia rules, KO? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:46PM (#6280179) Homepage
    Try http://www.pompom.org.uk/ [pompom.org.uk] instead. And yes, it does look really cool, and does run on Linux, MS-Windows and Mac OS X, and yes there is a free demo. (-:
  • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ldspartan (14035) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:49PM (#6280219) Homepage
    ....

    64-bitness aside, I purchased a dual-capable 2.0Ghz xeon machine from Dell a while ago for $700, and it came with 2x 73.4GB U320 SCSI disks, which retail for about $300 a piece. Add another proc and RAM, and you have a comparable machine (based on old technology I might ad) for $1500.

    I think. ...

    --
    Phil
  • by Wolfier (94144) on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:53PM (#6280255)
    Yes, the power is in the applications, if they are the applications Steve or Bill wants you to run.

    Say, if 3 years from now, movie ripping applicatons would only be available on one OS. Which one do you think it would be?

    That's why I run Linux.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @08:57PM (#6280276)
    Nice troll. It's one I happen to agree with to an extent. People are not stupid. It IS nice to allow you to do about 90 percent of what you need to do with the left mouse button, but after you've mastered that, power users should be able to do what they want and with Mac OSX they are. So, include a nice matching 3 button mouse as a option to the one button mouse. Scroll Mice are also supported and handy. One thing where I differ with you is where in god's name do you find a mouse for 30 bucks? I can find acceptable mice for around 15. Granted, I do like cadillac mice too. My fav is a intellimouse pro. Microsoft may not make the best software, but there mice are excellent. One hting that Apple needs to do more is concentrate a bit mroe on their power users. They do fine with the low end and they need to push the hugh end more. Hence the G5.
  • Switch (Score:2, Interesting)

    by winmutt (150579) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:09PM (#6280363) Homepage
    I made the switch last year. It wasn't from Windows to Macintosh, but Mac to Linux. The reasons were purely economic. All of Apple's software and hardware are quite impressive. What is more amazing to me is how far Linux has come since the first time I experienced it in '98. I've found suitable replacements for everything I used before. BBEdit was replaced with Kate. Finder with KDE. Office with KOffice and Open Office.
  • Re:$500 machine...? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2nd Post! (213333) <gundbear@pacbe l l . n et> on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:24PM (#6280484) Homepage
    So, with this $629 machine, can you effortlessly make DV movies, then DVDs from them, often in the same day?

    Or linen bound photo books from your easily organized photo library?

    Or seamlessly exchange information from your addressbook, AIM application, and mail application?

    Or effortlessly organize your library of music, and then export it at will to CD, DVD, MP3-CD, MP3-DVD, iPod, etc?

    Can you effortless back up and restore your system by copying your ~Home directory to another running machine?

    How much does it cost you to do all of the above?

    For me, it costs a Mac. I've been using PCs for years, since DOS, and I've never been able to do all of the above all at once and all very simply. With a Mac, it is. So that's what I'm paying for.

    Yes, it cost me $1499, so I paid $870 more than you have, but I've already sold $600 worth of DVDs with 3 days of work, and expect to sell another $1,000 by the end of the year, because of iMovie, iDVD, and Photoshop Elements.
  • Untweaked Linux GUI (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:27PM (#6280502) Homepage
    I sat down to a fresh Mandrake 9.1 installation yesterday, and everything that they are allowed to ship "just worked".

    I typed one line at a shell prompt to bring an unofficial repository of Mandrake RPMs to the system's attention, started a package manager, selected all, and a whole lot of things which Mandrake can't safely ship (video CoDecs etc) came on line as well. This could have been done with a single click in the web browser, but for some reason Mandrake are a bit thingy about letting random websites have open slather on their systems. Note that it's possible to have that work OOTB as well (by defining a KParts handler for it and having that prompt for superuser rights).

    Funny that the above paragraph describes the kind of stuff that Lindows want to charge you $99 a year for access to. And Lindows isn't shy about running stuff as root (how you say, disaster in the offing?).

  • Re:No (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rbullo (625328) <ross.bullockNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:29PM (#6280521) Homepage Journal
    I would have switched to Apple computers running GNU/Linux long ago had they decided to allow third party manufacturers to produce their hardware. I HATE pretty much anything proprietary, be it software, hardware, or recipies. If Apple opened up their hardware, then IMO, there should be a huge jump in their market share because of people like me buying their computers to avoid Palladium or for the reasons you stated (or just for the hell of it :)).
  • Re:furthermore... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schwanerhill (135840) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:31PM (#6280532)
    Ah, what the heck, I'll blow away my moderation points and actually try to say something...

    Uh, I hate to say it, but Jobs said at the keynote today that 10.3 will cost $129. (See MacCentral's coverage [macworld.com], among others.)

    As you alluded to, Apple would probably have called Jaguar 10.5 and Panther 11.0 if it weren't for the marketing pain of OS XI--they want to put OS 11 off as long as they can. However, both 10.2 and 10.3 are major upgrades that Apple felt were worth charging the upgrade price for. Apple didn't charge for 10.1 because, by their own admission, 10.0 wasn't really ready for prime time (although I have been using OS X full time since the public beta), so Apple thought it fair not to charge early adopters to get the first ready-for-prime-time release of OS X.*

    I happen to think that both 10.2 and 10.3 are worth the upgrade fee and think that it is perfectly fair for Apple to charge for them, but that point is definitely open to debate. That said, I am a student, so it will (most likely) only cost me $70. :)

    *Fair is, of course, a relative term--one could look at it this way: Apple presumably thought that a lot of their customers would think it unfair if they charged for 10.1, so they thought the long term costs of charging more than a $20 distribution cost would be more harmful than the lost revenue would be helpful.

  • Re:furthermore... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:45PM (#6280660)
    Most of the apps that are availiable for Linux for free are also available for Mac OS X for free. Certainly the biggies such as OpenOffice, a web browser built on the same base as Konqueror (Safari) (or Mozilla if that's your cuppa tea), The Gimp, apache, and so on. Some of them even come with the standard install, or are availiable on the (free, downloadable) developers package, such as gcc and tools. Now that the three big free software OS X porting groups have agreed to work more closely together, we will see the already impressive collection (of which I have named only the smallest portion) grow. I really doubt that there will be much software available for Linux which can't be had, even in an easily installable binary form, for OS X.

    Erik

  • Apple's Catch 22 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by alwynschoeman (673941) on Monday June 23, 2003 @09:48PM (#6280676)

    Apple makes money selling specialized hardware. Only problem is that their cpu's are slowly drifting and drifting out of competition with Intel and AMD.

    If this gap becomes too big then no flashy gui is going to save you.

    So now Steve has to this really hard problem. Say I put an AMD chip into my Apple hardware, won't that mean that I'm only selling a GUI now as my GUI doesn't force me to buy Apple hardware anymore?

  • by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:18PM (#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 TitanBL (637189) <brandon@titan-[ ... m ['int' in gap]> on Monday June 23, 2003 @10:42PM (#6281068)
    It will be intersting to see this one play out. I installed RH 9 on a machine I use as a LAN server and I have to say that I am pretty impressed. Gnome/KDE blow windows out of the water IMO. I think that you will see a large shift in market share as the common man becomes more computer literate.

    One example - I went to visit my family a few months ago - was talking to my 15 year old sister and noticed that her desktop looked odd. Took a closer look and realized she was running KDE. She explained that she was sick of her system getting virri and being generally unstalbe, always having to reboot - so she googled for an alternative to Windows and ended up installing Suse herself. My sister is not knowledable about computers - she just uses her machine for email, webbrowsing, mp3s, and IM.

    This made an impression on me - I think that the days of the 'computer impared' are numberd. Her generation is not going to put up with Palladium - ha.

    I think Palladium will cause a good amout of market share to change hands. Will it go to apple or linux? I think it will be about even when it comes to the home user - but if linux starts eating into apple's share I am certain they will just release OS X for X86 [slashdot.org].

  • Re:Yellowdog Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nathanh (1214) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:34PM (#6281390) Homepage

    Your experiences simply don't match mine. Not anymore.

    Web browsing.. so I've installed a nice linux system with Debian, and added what I think is enough packages to get X11 and Gnome up and going.. whaaa.. where's the web browser? Oh right, I need to install that too, should I use Phoenix, Galeon, Netscape, Mozilla, or Joe-tcltk-webrowser.. I think I'll go Mozilla. Everyone seems to be using that now. Hang on, why do the fonts look screwed up? Oops, it looks like I needed to install fonts as well.. I'm sure it comes with some good ones.. there we go. Anti-aliasing? Oh, easy.. xft.. wait, it doesn't see the fonts now.. need to rebuild the fonts.dir file. Screw it..

    I typed "apt-get install mozilla". Clicked the mozilla icon in the foot menu. Anti-aliased fonts worked first go.

    Playing DVDs, yep, Linux can do that.. all I need is mplayer or vlc or xiph.. and then I just need to install the dvd libraries and it plays! VIDEO_01.TS .. where is my damn menu?!@#.. umm, but then I need sound. So then I just need to choose between ALSA and OSS. And then find a sound card which works with those libraries. Oh, and then pass a funky kernel parameter to grub, editing a config file, so it can do duplex sound, and hey presto, I have DVDs playing, with sound... but I'm only getting 10fps on my Athlon2ghz.. oh, oops, I'm not using the nvidia kernel and xfree86 extensions for hardware acceleration! Silly me, how could I forget!

    I typed "apt-get install xine". Clicked the xine icon in the foot menu. Clicked the DVD button in xine. Worked first go. Fullscreen, too.

    Ahh, I think I'll just listen to my MP3s with xmms.. hang on, why is it dying with signal 11 every few minutes? ooh, oops, I used the version of it that came on my OS install CDs, and that had an off-by-one bug somewhere.. ahh well, just need to download it again and install.

    I just clicked the MP3 icon in the file browser. Worked first go.

    Now if you want to hear about my latest experience with Windows that required installing 3in1 drivers, Detonator drivers, PowerDVD software, service packs, Audigy drivers, and after about 6 CDs and 15 reboots I had a system that could finally play a DVD... well do I *really* need to explain my frustration here?

  • by RiffRafff (234408) on Monday June 23, 2003 @11:56PM (#6281502) Homepage
    I mean, seriously. Apple knows exactly how many copies of its OS have been installed. Linux companies, eh, not so much. Even if they keep track of sales AND the number of downloads, how can they possibly know how many times a distro has been passed around? And the Mac OS pretty much has to run on a Mac. Not so Linux. My personal experience says, there's a lot more machines out there running Linux than you think.
  • Re:I don't buy it. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vorpal22 (114901) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @12:16AM (#6281607) Homepage Journal
    No detailed studies, but it's fairly clear from reading slashdot posts since the inception of OS X. Previously, the Linux crowd seemed to laugh at Mac OS. Now, every time Macs are mentioned (which was virtually never before OS X), throngs of people post about how they've switched from PCs to Macs.

    I'm one of those switchers myself, and I'll never look back. Linux has been supposedly becoming "the next big thing" since, what, 1996? It's seven years later, industry has lost interest in Linux as a desktop solution (they've recognized Linux's strengths as a server solution and embraced them, however), and it looks to me like Linux is going nowhere fast on the desktop.
  • by smashwolf (146116) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @03:04AM (#6282273) Homepage
    PC hardware is not consistent. Many distros of Linux are not consistent. (Save for maube Debian,
    with some real package management.)

    I define consistency related to computers as "A supportable method of reproducability."

    Case in point. A year ago, we bought a small cluster of 12 linux machines. They were all iedentical, and managing all of them was easy. Now, a year later, the cheap commodity hardware is failing, and I cannot find the "old" hardware anymore. I now have a cluster of 12 machines that are of different configurations with hardware from different vendors. Every machine has something different, and different software configurations are producing different results, either by performance , or reliability, or both.

    On our 10 year old cluster of SGI IRIX machines, all the hardware has been consistently the same. When something does break, SGI replaces it with the same part! it works the same way, nothing changes , and my life is much easier. I manage hundreds of machines. I don't need 12 linux machines taking up all my time because the commodity parts, and the OS can't be coordinated, or worse yet, dependency trees, and OS packages don't get managed well at all.

    As with the SGI machines, Apple has done a good job of product consistency. In the PC arena, you have to go to the high end IBM, Dell, or HP servers to get any semblance of consistency,and then the price you pay for that "pc server hardware" completely negates any savings you might realize from going with a PC platform. You might as well buy something cheaper that is still consistent, like Apple, or go for the gusto, and get SGI, or Sun machines, while you are spending the money, and at least enjot some consistency,and supportability.

  • Good point ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Clansman (6514) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @04:50AM (#6282524)
    A compelling arguement ... but

    How about the numbers that are using Win98 - thats the 'upgrade' zone - with win95 that make 35% of the users who are up for a change of computer sometime in the next few years.

    If linux desktops can capture a big share of this then they can define that as success - if not, if when we come back here in 2005/6 and the win98 boxes are all gone, but linux etc is still at 1% - then its bad :-)
  • by thaWhat (531916) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @05:20AM (#6282614)
    it was (is?) still the best desktop environment. between arexx and a unified file system (form files) the amiga provided something that we all wanted go on flame me...
  • Definitely (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jopet (538074) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @05:32AM (#6282656) Journal
    In many areas (university institutes, certain companies) at least in Europe, Linux desktops are already more frequent than Apple desktops for some time. Most of the university institutes I worked for do not use Apple - if there is an Apple computer, it gathers dust in some corner. Secretaries work with Windows, nearly all other people use Linux on their desktop.
  • Re:No (Score:3, Interesting)

    by luzrek (570886) on Tuesday June 24, 2003 @09:54AM (#6284382) Journal
    The five most important words in the above quote are '...I can build my own system.'

    You can buy a functional PC for $300(Walmart/northgate.com etc.). A good one for $600(cyberpowerinc.com,accubyte.com etc.). You typically pay more if you build your own since you are buying premium parts. The other major difference between PC's (esspecially build your own) and Macs is that you can make really weird casses for PCs. Check out micro-itx.com for some examples. In the recent past, almost all computers have been "fast enough" for office/email/webbrowsing/home music/video playback. I've had a lot of fun building a low power consuption PC (fanless) for my home entertainment center. Because Apple requires that you buy their hardware, you end up with restricted applications, just as when you use their (or Microsoft's) operating system(s) you have restricted control/choice over your environment. That is enough for some of us to stay away from their products.

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