Free software's secret weapon: FOOGL

It's a long-standing joke in the free software world that this will be the year when we see GNU/Linux make its breakthrough on the desktop - just like last year, and the year before that. What's really funny is that all the key GNU/Linux desktop apps are already being widely deployed, but not in the way that people have long assumed.

The indestructible optimism about GNU/Linux appearing on the desktop seems to be the result of a misguided view that since it grew from insignificance in the server sector to become a serious challenger to Microsoft Windows there, the same is bound to happen to GNU/Linux on the client side.

But there are fundamental differences between the server and desktop markets. Free software has traditionally been written by geeks for geeks: this means that it suits well those whose job is tending a company's servers. By contrast, all the things that non-technical users demand – ease-of-use, an engaging user interface and above all continuity with what they are used to – have typically been absent.

Similarly, although it is difficult enough to impose a new server solution on an unwilling IT department, it is trivially easy compared to trying to get end-users to switch to a new desktop. After all, IT staff are paid to deal with IT problems (including their own), whereas general users just want to get their non-IT jobs done; a completely new IT solution is seen as an unnecessary distraction from their “real



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Converting Windows users

Steve's picture

I am happy to report that though I have only been using Linux on my desktops for about two years, I have recently earned my RHCE and in doing so have given those around me the confidence they needed to make the switch. To date I have converted 10 users to various ditributions of Linux. This may not seem like a lot, but these were dyed in the wool Windows users who swore they would never switch. I think, and the users I converted would agree, that Linux on the desktop is well worth it and meets their needs. I might add that I have only had three calls in two years concerning issues/problems and one of those was a defective wifi card, which was easy enough to replace. So, I am encouraging everyone out there to convert at least one lost soul (i.e. Windows user) to Linux this year. Together we can make this a better world.

I have been using Linux on the desktop for a long time

Sean Edwards's picture

In 1999, I switched to a Linux desktop at home and have not used Linux on my work desktop since 2001. At home, the computer is set to dual boot Windows for the family and Linux for me.

The administration problem isn't having to know how to support everything out there. The problem is defining one and making it available for the users.

With Yast from SuSE, and other tools for Debian and RedHat and the others, it is possible to force security patches to the user.

Directory based authentication with OpenLDAP or Novell's eDirectory, or Active Directory via Samba is also possible.

A lot of workplaces should consider dumb terminal technology (ie Neoware) for use with remote X sessions.

Recently, IBM announced Lotus Notes clients for Mac and Linux. Although this is a commercial offering, this is a huge announcement for those of us seeking a mature integrated mail and calendar solution.

It is funny that people who complain about the variety of Linux desktop that are available, also support multiple versions of Windows without complaining one word about it.

More reasons companies don't switch to FOOGL

Anonymous's picture

Here are two more reasons companies resist switching to FOOGL that I've not seen mentioned in any of the postings:

1. The fewer different kinds of desktops there are, the less cost to administer them (or so the theory goes). Adding Linux desktops and software to the mix of Windows desktops means sysadmins must learn how to administer the new platforms, must develop new procedures and scripts for updates and backups, etc. Some companies likely see less variation in desktop systems as simpler and cheaper to administer.

Perhaps this will change, as Glyn Moody suggests in a posting, when companies find the benefits outweigh the costs of switching.

2. Closer to home for me, given where I work, is a security reason: Any given desktop platform, including its applications, must support automatic security patch updates such that desktop users cannot refuse the updates; that is, users are not given the choice of whether to accept and install these updates. My company would want a Linux desktop and its apps to support the kind of security patch update procedures, including appropriate patch update infrastructure software, that are in place for Windows and its applications.

I'm not familiar enough with Linux distributions to know whether any of them support security updates of this sort. I do know, however, that Firefox (as of a few months ago) does not support this type of update. Firefox always asks the user whether to accept the update. Also, apparently there is no supporting software that automates the download of security patches for Firefox and pushes them to all users the way its done with IE.

A few months ago, my administrator told me I had to remove Firefox from my work computer for the reasons stated above.

This is no small or petty matter at my company (and I presume at other companies like ours). A large number of our products are sold to the U.S. government for military use. Thus, not only does my company need to defend itself against all the virus/malware/etc junk floating around on the Internet, we must also defend ourselves against cyber attacks targeted directly at us (and, I presume, companies similar to us). There's just no way my company would allow widespread corporate adoption of Linux desktops and apps without the type of automated security patch updates I've described.

Of *course* Linux will do automatic security updates

Anonymous's picture

Since Linux enforces a good separation of "ordinary" users from "privileged" users (i.e. root), there is no way in hell that an "ordinary" user can stop the system from updating itself - if that's what the system administrator wants done. Well, I suppose the user could turn off the machine, but there are ways to counteract that.

So, for example, suppose you wanted the updates to occur at 4:17 AM every morning. As root, give the command crontab -e, and then add the line:

17 4 * * * yum update

or, since I find the crontab file format rather confusing:

# minute
# # hour
# # # day of month 1-31
# # # # month 1-12 (or names, see below)
# # # # # day of week 0-7 (0 or 7 is Sun, or use names)
17 4 * * * yum update

There's probably a way to do that from the GUI as well, I just don't know what that would be.

I wish you'd asked us how to do this - it's really very simple, once you know how.

hardware support

Anonymous's picture

I've tried to switch to Linux on my desktop a few times, but I always end up using Windows again because of the lack of hardware (driver) support, the lack of a fully functional instant messaging client, and the difficulty in using Adobe Photoshop with Wine.

Try Xandros as the distro,

Kev's picture

Try Xandros as the distro, Kopete for a fully functional multi-protocol instant messanger and The GIMP in place of Photoshop. Each of the above is bundled with Xandros. Also bundled with the latest Xandros is Crossover Office 5.0.3 which will install and run Photoshop(s) 6 & 7 with no problems.

Don't give up :-)

Why not

wel's picture

See the problem is that linux was not thought or was not intended to be a desktop OS. Linux is mainly for hardcore task like firewalling security, developing, and doing pretty much everything except desktop. Is like saying Windows is good for security, it aint gonna happen. Linux from my point of view is what you learn from to build Windows :)

Two reasons why I'm stuck with Windows

Chris Cookson's picture

There are two reasons why I'm not likely to make the move to Linux any time soon.
1. Database support. There is simply nothing out there that is cross platform and provides the same rapid application development environment as MS Access. (Well there are some things I've seen, but they're certainly not free, and I'd need to buy both Windows and Linux licences!)
Open Office is nowhere near mature enough in the DB department at this stage. I've seen various DB developers grumble about the complexity of scripting what are trivial tasks in Access, but take a mountain of code to achieve in OO. The developer documentation is rather limited to say the least.
The second issue is performance. I'm a die hard W2K user (behind a good Linux firewall) and W2K flies on hardware that Linux grinds away on.
Telling me that I can go install a nice lightweight window manager just isn't good enough. I want at least the performance I get with W2K with no fewer features.
I'm hoping that by the time Windows (hasta la) Vista hits the market, someone might have managed to write a decent database front end for Linux. At least at that point Linux should win hands down in the performance stakes compared to Windows. Unfortunately, it's still likely to be slow compared to W2K, and quite frankly I don't see why I should 'upgrade' to something slower when I have all the desktop functionality I need.
If someone can suggest a desktop environment that's as responsive as W2K on modest hardware, but will give improved stability and security associated with Linux, I'm all ears, but if not I'll stick with my 'obsolete' Windows.

You should try kexi

Anonymous's picture

Kexi is what you are looking for. It can even import MS Access files. See


Ram Sambamurthy's picture

I forgot to mention Gambas. It's language is almost similar to Visual Basic, with very few differences.

If there's anything close to Access, I think Gambas is the closest.

Kexi sucks

Ram Sambamurthy's picture

I've also been looking for a good database replacement for MS Access. Nothing today comes close to Access. Kexi sucks. It's making progress but still far away.

My answer is to use Python (wxPython) with a good IDE such as PyScripter (for Windows only) or Komodo. The other way is to use Boa Constructor for setting up your GUI only, and code and debug in Komodo/PyScripter. Black Adder is a con, I wasted my money on it. Rekall is quite OK but for hardcore database development, my suggestions here are the best I have researched and used.

Evolution solves the "where is Outlook" issue nicely

Anonymous's picture


I have been using Evolution for some time now, in a dyed-in-the-wool "Microsoft shop". When Windows users, who universally use Outlook ("Lookout?"), see my KDE + Evolution desktop, they ask me, "Wow, Outlook runs on Mac, too?" Then, they do a double-take when they see "Mac OS" running on my Dell Latitude wireless laptop. They ask--maybe I should say "beg"--to try it. I just smile and let them sit at my laptop for a few minutes. They get engrossed in the coolness of what they think is Mac OS X. Then they ask me how they can get a copy of it.

It is at this point that I show them exactly where I got my copy:

I explain that the "Outlook" install on my box is really Evolution. They see me checking my Exchange Server email (we use Exchange Server, sadly), and they get very, very impressed. The final hook is when they see the Internet Exploder icon on my desktop, just like they have on their Windows machines.

Yes, I have Internet Exploder running with CrossOver Office, which is highly recommended for Grandma to run her Windows applications. I do this for exactly one CraptiveX application that we use (Remedy's "Magic" trouble tickit system).

I have converted more than one person this way.

The reason I do not switch

Anonymous's picture

The reason I do not switch to Linux is there are WAY too many different versions to choose from. So many to choose I can't choose any of them. There are no easy ways to tell which does what and doesn't have what. Another problem is the lack of a decent File Manager program. I want a file manager like ACDSee, which isn't free but is still one of the best interfaces I've found. I actually did try one version of Linux, it took me more than half hour to figure out how to install Java. I tried the Konqueror File Manager... I won't be trying that program again because I didn't like how it looked or how I had to do things, similar to Windows Exploror as it was. I don't use Windows explorer either, oh well.

I agree with much of what

Kev's picture

I agree with much of what you say, and that's exactly what kept me out of Linux for several years - especially Konqueror! People tell me it does everything, but no normal human can work out how. However, I eventually stumbled across Xandros, which has its own purpose written file manager which is a killer app. As for the choice, just find one and stick to it, and for me that's Xandros. It's amazing how absence of choice clears the the mind.

Don't give up!

Linux versions

Anonymous's picture

I like having many versions of Linux. I have Linux on different platforms running: on the HP iPAQ, on the Asus WL-500G, on my laptop and desktop. Having Linux running on an appliance ensures that I still have control over the lifecycle of that product.

Hearing the same

Anonymous's picture

Hearing the same generalities again made me react. Obviously, people here don't have the same buying attitude as the general public.

Linux won't break through as long as it isn't possible to use common accesories out of the box with _any_ distro.

So next time you go out and but a media-player, check how many advertise they support linux, and then how many of those that do add software having the same functionality as under windows/osX. Go out and buy a digital camera. Do you get a linux application to connect it and transfer/manage/manipulate your images? Camcorders anyone? How about going out, buy the first all-in-one printer/scanner/copier, hook it up and use it under your favorite distro? Do you expect it to work without first spending a couple of evenings searching the net even before you buy?

If you think all those things are used with anything other than the applications that come bundled with them, think again. Maybe the average reader here does so, but not the other 99% of the world population.

Try explaining to someone interested in linux after the n-th virus infection that he can't use half of his scanner and his webcam and printer will also have to be replaced if he switches OS. Answer: "just clean those viruses and update the anti-virus soft, please".

re: Hearing the same

settantta's picture

Go out and buy a digital camera. Do you get a linux application to connect it and transfer/manage/manipulate your images?

For most, if not all, digital cameras, you won't need a manufacturer-supplied app. all half-reasonable Linux distros install a suitable program automagically. KDE seems to have the best front-end (digiKam), never seen it miss the correct drivers yet.

Manipulating the images? Well, under KDE there are several. I have a digital camera, and my housemate's daughter (trained up on Windows at school) took all of 1 minute to grasp the method (I showed her once and she was off and running). Then there is always the GIMP....

Camcorders anyone? How about going out, buy the first all-in-one printer/scanner/copier, hook it up and use it under your favorite distro? Do you expect it to work without first spending a couple of evenings searching the net even before you buy?

Searching the net? why? The only printers/scanners/all-in-one devices that I've seen which have problems under Linux (Mandriva in my case) also have the same issues in Windows (Lexmark units spring to mind). Over the years, I've had various ink-jet and laser printers, scanners and modems on my box. the only time I had a minor problem was with an external mode, about 3 years ago, And that was entirely due to my not having made sure of my ISP's details in advance. Now using broadband, I simply plugged in my modem/router and was up and running....

If you think all those things are used with anything other than the applications that come bundled with them, think again. Maybe the average reader here does so, but not the other 99% of the world population.

I don't think that, I know that.

Try explaining to someone interested in Linux after the n-the virus infection that he can't use half of his scanner and his webcam and printer will also have to be replaced if he switches OS.

Man, I've consistently had more problems getting stuff to work properly under Windows. My scanner has always worked properly (and is usable from any machine on the network, not just the machine it's attached to). My printers have always been identified correctly, and worked "out of the box". Under Mandriva at any rate, webcams are supported, and work right off (although why anyone would really need a webcam escapes me.

Your information seems to be several years out of date. I'd strongly recommend you get a recent distro (try the Mandriva One live CD, or Ubuntu (although Ubuntu never seems to be able to configure my display correctly, unlike Mandriva), or just get the Mandriva 2006 DVD and stick it on a spare machine. You might be pleasantly surprised.

I thought the same thing

Anonymous's picture

I thought the same thing about scanners, printers, and webcams. I started using ubuntu on my desktop, and was pleased when both my printers work without any configuration. I was blown away when the scanning function of the multi-function printer worked without ANY configuration. This was NOT a common piece of equipment, and I assumed that I would have lots of problems. Few problems would have been a nice surprise, but no problems is astounding.

I haven't tried anything with a webcam, but if this is indicative of where desktop linux is, it won't be long before it blows the doors off of everything else.

Sink or swim

Anonymous's picture

Only way to change people is make them sink or swim. POS system is key way into desktop market is most POS SYSTEMS upgrades and base server software in a windows format cost 100 times that of open source(linux) to small mid size companies. Linux is seen in customer service as a dark side unit it needs to enter as a good light side software easily pulled into a open document software in a way your mother or grandma could use with out reading 60 page manual(such as go to command line stand on your head &putting your right finger up your nose and call IT ADMIN).

I was trying to sell my aunt

Anonymous's picture

I was trying to sell my aunt of the merits of Linux. Can you imagine me in my forties, trying to bring her (in her seventies) back to the "horrors" of the command line? To a Unix person, Linux is a continuation of the Unix heritage. But to a Windows person, Linux is like to go back in time, with terminals, telnet and such. I have been using Linux since Slackware 95. I think one of the things that repel some Windows people from Linux is that Linux is "not as visual" as Windows, that you can't see things (processes) happening as much. I can appreciate that. I still sometimes go to the Windows version of an open source program to help me paint a picture in my mind of the way things should work and look like in Linux. I think it helps to imagine, when at a command line, the command line arguments and switches as submenus and sub-submenus to the main program in a GUI.

> Linux is like to go back

Anonymous's picture

> Linux is like to go back in time, with terminals, telnet and such.

Terminals, there's no need to use terminal if you don't want to.

Such, as in what?

Telnet, wtf?? Where are you even connecting to?

You should really try a Fedora Core or Ubuntu distro or upgrading your Slackware from 1995.

speed up firefox

Anonymous's picture

Did you know that you can significantly speed up Firefox? You can find manual how to easily tweak Firefox over here: speed up

Free software's software weapon: FOOGL

Anonymous's picture

Web-based doesn't necessarily mean cross-platform. Think of ActiveX. ActiveX is Microsoft's hooks into the Web.

Good point

Glyn Moody's picture

I meant well-behaved, non-invasive Web-based apps - those that use ActiveX disqualify themselves since they can't be cross-platform. But you're right, not all Web-based apps are equal.

Free software's software weapon: FOOGL

Anonymous's picture

It has been my experience that people learn from their mistakes and that some people learn faster than others. So I don't prevent others from making mistakes, I offer alternatives. If they refuse the alternatives, then it means the timing is not right for change to happen. When someone keeps hitting their head against a wall, they are bound to get bruised. To a certain point, I let the user "stew in its own juices".


Ted's picture

How about instead of FOOGL (which sounds too synonymous with the unrelated "Google") it be called GOLF. Plus then only gets a single O -- its fair share.

First LAMP, then GOLF, what next?

call it FLOG

Bohu's picture

we should call it Flog, since that is what we zeolots are always doing to those stubborn windoze (ab)users :-) and the more we flog them, the more stubbornly they hang on to windows. Darn it. Oh well, gotta keep trying :-)

Inertia and stubbornness

Anonymous's picture

None of thie explains why normal people would *want* to switch.

I frequently encounter complete, absolute, stubborn resistance to the idea of having a non-Microsoft system.

People don't want me to push them into installing a more secure system, they want me to provide them with antispyware and antivirus software 'quick fixes'.

Nobody is trying to save money on software costs, they're just after free (illegal) copies of Office and Photoshop, which they're prever any day over Open Office and Gimp.

Advocating desktop Linux amongst normal people is an insanely difficult task. Still way too many roadblocks - ease of use (yes, really), fonts, compatability (OO doesn't cut it - I can't even make bullet points in OO without them turning into a funny heart character when loaded into Word), lack of games support and just the fact that switching to Linux is a lot of hassle with virtually no gain.

In 5-6 years of trying to gently, sensibly advocate people consider Linux, I have only managed to convert my wife - and that's probably only because she loves me, and knows I will be right here to fix any problems!

So, yeah, not trying to be negative but people won't switch unless Linux is clearly, and considerably *better* - for ordinary people who don't give a doo-dah - and gets picked up on a popular hype wave.

Why want to switch

Glyn Moody's picture

My theory goes something like this.

Once free software can meet the needs of average business users, then businesses will find the benefits compelling - not just upfront costs, but savings in terms of downtime, security, viruses etc. Once people are switched across to free software on Windows, they can be switched across to GNU/Linux at some point.

Whether or not they are switched, they will start to use free software. And, just as they do today, they will "borrow" copies to take home - with the difference that this time, it's perfectly legal.

In other words, once people become familiar with free software, the barriers that people mention will gradually come down, and the reason they will want to switch at home is that they get all the benefits they have come to appreciate at work.

No Joke

bimbo's picture

Linux Desktop migration is already happening. It may not be as fast as we want it to be but it is already a reality.

There are many hurdles to take because of the following factors:

habit of users
business applications and the applications they are accustomed to

But I see a stage of migration of different companies. First they try the apps like OpenOffice and other Cross-Platform apps. Then comes the migration of existing business apps --> there are now businesses using PHP instead of the .NET framework.

Then people will finally realize... heck what's stopping me from changing an operating system since all i use can be found in Linux?

Linux in the Desktop is already there. I am a happy Ubuntu user coming from Windows.

Anybody who says Linux is not yet ready of the Desktop is still living in the 1990s.

The problem I have had

Anonymous's picture

The problem I have had trying to get everyday home users to try Linux is fear. They view Linux as a very complex ultra-geeky type operating system and they are afraid it will get them into trouble. As far as they are concerned Windows works, it may not be the best but it does what they want. The last thing they want is yet another operating system to learn and deal with, let alone what they view as a highly complex supergeek OS.

On the other hand in the rare occaision where I do get people to try Linux or, as in the case of my folks where I started them off on the Linux desktop, they tend to appreciate and prefer Linux because it works well. No hassles, no gimmicks, it just gets the job done. And with browsers like Firefox, Opera, Konqueror, they find it's slammin !!

If Linux is to be more attractive to everyday users it needs to do two things. First make the user interface easier and more self explainatory. For example make it easier for users to install software. Adding rpm's from the command line or unzipping tarballs or working from the CLI is far to hard for the average user. Second, build some more easy to use, easy to manage, ultra snazzy user apps with plenty of bells and whistles. People go for that and if Linux can deliver people will eat it up. At the same time we should be careful not to turn Linux into an overly simplified and insecure OS either. I think Linux has made some great progress and has really moved forward from where it was when I first started with it well over 10 years ago.. But like anything else it can stand some more improvement.

see above...

Glyn Moody's picture

...for the issue of fear.

You're definitely right about installation: it needs to be completely transparent. I like the way Debian works in this respect.

Hardward Drives are the hold up.

tktim's picture

I basically use Firefox, OpenOffice, and Web Mail (Netscape/AIM) for all my needs. ( I was a really big time power user of Excel at work at one time, but OOo is great for me at home.) Not sure why anyone would still use Non Web Mail. Use OOo spreadsheets for taxes and all financial needs. Switching to saving and re saving all files in Open Document Formats when ever possible. Stopped using games a long time ago. Most of my extended family uses a Browser, email or Web Mail, and the photo program that came with their cameras, that's about it. Most do Non PC games.

I think my whole family would switch overnight to Linux if all Hardware, especially WiFi was plug and play. They also need to be able to open/view most files like text, pdf, jpg and spreadsheets would be nice.

I always recommend Firefox, OpenOffice, Web Mail and Wifi to everyone. I've got a lot of people to switch to these items. A lot of people had trouble setting up their email accounts correctly. I tell them to try Web Mail (one that requires no software on your hard drive) and they would have it up and running in no time at all and they love it. Just sign up and your done. Get you mail from anywhere, work, library, hotel, Mall, etc. I always talk about how great Linux is and how it's growing around the world in big growth areas like China, etc. I don't really recommend it. Because most people I know don't have the time or knowledge to get their mismatch of lower priced peripheral equipment working. This is mostly do to equipment manufactures failure to create Linux drivers.

Two things that will have a big impact on Linux Desktop use is Open Document Formats and when the Kernel gets WiFi built in.

Good point

Glyn Moody's picture

Yes, WiFi is certainly crucial - and is an area where something practical can be done to improve GNU/Linux. I also agree that Webmail makes life much easier, but I don't know whether it's an acceptable approach in companies, for instance.

Missing apps

Gianmarco's picture

the software categorys will change depending on who is using the pc
in my case the missing link is a valid alterntive to Dreamweaver, NVU showed some promise but is it still beeing developed? who knows.the lack of a good wysiwyg html editor is a big problem.
the other problem I see are the vast numbers of people using Photoshop I know the Gimp exists but who really wants to learn a whole new program . The solution will probably be a more agressive developement of Wine.


Glyn Moody's picture
You (and other comments here) are right that there are secondary apps that many would like. But I was thinking more about average office and home users. For them, I think the Big 3 are browsers, office suite and email.

Secondary apps?

Hans Leidekker's picture

When the common set of apps is available on Windows as well
as Linux, your 'secondary apps' may well become the primary
deciding factor.

I think you should define 'average office and home users'. In
my view the average user does need more than just a browser,
office suite and email.

By the way, I once spoke to Raul Pesch, head strategist for
Microsoft Benelux, and he admitted they are unpleasantly
surprised by these cross platform apps invading their home
turf. They fully well know that these apps build a bridge
to other platforms.

average users

Glyn Moody's picture

By average I mean non-technical users - for example people who work in a company but are not involved with the computing side. What other general programs do you think they might need?

Average would also include adults in a family using computers at home - I recognise that children/teens/young adults will want some PC games, but I think the non-technical general user will get by with the main three types I mentioned, maybe with some IM and VOIP thrown in.

Interesting your story about Microsoft.

> What other general

Hans Leidekker's picture

> What other general programs do you think they might need?

No general programs, on the contrary, I'm talking about the
most specific kind of programs. I once read that in-house
development in companies accounts for most of the software
written on this planet.

If my girlfriend is the average computer user, she needs IKEA
kitchenplanner and HEMA photoalbum. I think the average Windows
user can point to at least one such application.

business vs. home

Glyn Moody's picture

I think this is why the shift to GNU/Linux on the desktop will take place first in business. The in-house programs will simply be re-written by the company itself.

For the home user, it's more of a problem; I suppose it's a question of payoff. How long will you put up with Windows' cost, security problems, crashes, etc before you decide it's worth giving up that specific program so that you can shift to free software and avoid all the hassle.

But it also indicates that we need more hackers writing IKEA homeplanners....

Spot on

Nicholas Petreley's picture

I use Linux 99% of the time. It has everything I want and need.

My kids run Windows and I have Windows installed so that I'm not ignorant of what's going on in Windows (that's the other 1%). (Windows is better for games, too, although the few I used to play work in Linux under cedega.)

But the "payoff" issue is a big one. I constantly worry about viruses, trojans, spyware, etc. on Windows. My own Windows installation has been infected by trojans at least 3 times. My own fault? Probably, but it just never happens in Linux. That's a huge cost/time benefit to Linux.

(Yes, I have three different versions of anti-virus software on three Windows installations, so the problem isn't that these machines have no protection. The problem is that even the best antivirus software doesn't always catch everything.)

"Window$ is better for gaming" -> Wrong

Anonymous's picture

Quote : "Window$ is better for games" : wrong !
Most of games are written for Window$ and that infamous DirectX : (unfortunately) this is true...
Please, have a try to ut2004, doom3, quake3-4, serious sam 2.... all native linux games, you will change of mind.
Of course, I appreciate and have subscribed to Transgaming work but Wine-Cedega need, at least, 2 or more years of intensive work to be at least 50% effective on recent games.


Nicholas Petreley's picture

What I meant was that Windows is better (as in a better choice) for games because there are more games available for Windows than for Linux. I didn't mean it was a better gaming platform. I meant it the same way I'd say the PS2 is better for games, even though the PS2 is probably the worst of the currently available consoles.

That raises another issue altogether. We have a PS2 and a Gamecube. The kids use them often. We have an Xbox. It does nothing but sit and collect dust. I'm either going to turn it into a Linux server or hock it for whatever people are paying these days. I don't know what the Xbox 360 is like, and I don't know what the Wii and PS3 will be like. But I know enough to say that, combined with high-res big-screen LCD TVs, I'd rather play on consoles than on the PC.

I think the PC will always be a viable gaming platform, but consoles are going to steal a big portion of the market. That will make Linux as a game platform less relevant in the future (unless you mean as the underlying OS for the game console).

What about Instant Messengers?

Anonymous's picture

What about Instant Messengers? With the new approach by almost all the big ones to use more VoIP Calls and Video most of the GNU/Linux versions don't match up.

I think many steps exist in this sector... :)

Michail Vourlakos's picture

You are correct but I think the situation has changed,

two months ago I had the same problems but my suite now
is completely. There is a skype version for linux which
is very good. Not only gaim but if you are a KDE user
the kopete application is fantastic and supports video
conference and multiple accounts in various services. Finally
for the VoIP clients, the protocol which is emerging as a
standard in the field is SIP, there are two fantastic clients the
first one is ekiga from the GNOME project and the second one
is Twinkle. Actually with Twinkle you can connect to the famous which allows you free landline calls in many

Some things change, some things remain.... :)

Michail Vourlakos

GAIM and Google

Glyn Moody's picture
GAIM is cross platform, but you're right that more advanced features need to be added. And there's also Google Chat, which being Web-based is cross platform. Maybe the latter will add some of these extras.

Two more needed programs...

Eric G Rothoff's picture

You forgot two necessary programs. (Well, one necessary, one very much desired) The first is a Tax Program. Many, many people use Tax programs, and until they can be run on Linux many business people will not switch. The other is games. When new games are available for Linux, we will have overcome the final problem.

Linux Taxes

Tim Niiler's picture

TaxGeek06 is in its third year of development, and unlike other Linux tax programs, actually functions, has screenshots, and is moderately complete dependent on your needs. While it does not e-file, it will allow you to print out pdfs of your taxes fully filled in and does all the calculations for you. Although its user interface looks much like the tax forms (no interview format), it does not require command line know-how.

In the interest of disclosure, I am the primary developer. I hope it is helpful to those of you who might wish to do your own taxes.

Web based programs

Anonymous's picture

There are a million tax sites that let you do your taxes for free on the web.

I got a little computer that runs various emulators and have played a few of the old classic arcade games on it. Not really into messing up my computer with huge game files and all that constant tweaking of game versions that my friends have whined to me about over the years. They install a new game, which upgrades their version of the windows dll's, and then all their old games won't run anymore. Good times! If I got into gaming that much I'd just get a console and go that route.

Desirable yes, but necessary?

Glyn Moody's picture
I'm not sure about the tax program. I know that many people use them, but I've always used a spreadsheet myself, and I can't think I'm alone. As for games, well, yes, there are certain PC-specific games that need porting. But the hardened gamer will probably be using a Playstation or Xbox anyway, so ports aren't crucial.