Skip to main content

Linux ready for the desktop? Show me productivity first.

ZDNet has an article titled Linux Ready for the Desktop.

While I do enjoy Ubuntu quite a bit (at least on one desktop) and I would never doubt the usefulness of Linux on a wide variety of machines, my concerns over open source systems have become more widespread with issues about forks.

Linux is certainly a different scenario than MySQL but consider this - mySQL has been considered a viable alternative for commercial RDBMS' for how long? It's been around since 1994 but has only really become a force to reckon with in the past 10 years.

Certain incarnations of Linux are certainly ready for the desktop (OpenOffice is arguably a good alternative to MS Office - bloat and all) - but then so are an entirely cloud or web-based OSes.

My #1 concern with any OS that I'm going to place on my desktop is "does it make me more productive?" (an offshoot of that would be "does it make any of my clients more productive?")

I'm a firm believer that people will pay for things that make them more productive. I believe Vista has shown that people are NOT willing to pay for upgrades that don't. The security argument doesn't completely wash with me because too many people gun for Microsoft since it is the leader - no OS is impervious to attack (except the one that isn't connected to anything).

Now I've been playing with the Windows 7 beta and so far, it isn't bad - but it still annoys me a bit more than Windows XP but far less than Vista. I've been living in a Visual Studio 2008 project with third party controls and while some of the results are nice, I still rely on Visual FoxPro to do a great deal of the background work.

On the same project, I work with SQL 2005 but I also have SQL 2008 on my office machines - I can safely say SQL 2008 is far better than SQL 2005 in making me more productive. Yet I still use VFP to write automated SQL scripts - it's simply better at text handling than any other tool.

Some people love the Windows Explorer - others find alternatives. The only real way any new operating system is going to make it is by making people more productive, not by a little but by a lot.

The iPhone isn't a great phone - but it does open up the entire world of smart phones to consumers in a way that Windows Mobile simply hasn't. Both phones have features that the others don't - but cell phones are a consumer product - they rely not just on impression and productivity but also "coolness".

Desktop operating systems do not rely on the coolness factor - they are there to get a job done. I don't want an operating system that simply replaces another - I want one that makes me do more with less.


Ted Roche said…
Interesting post, but I'm not sure you've got your thesis gelled. Having used Linux as my primary desktop for several years (and OS X as another desktop), I think "productivity" is too vacuous a concept.

Using Linux as my _OS_, GNOME as my _desktop_, bash as my scriptable _console_ and to run scripts to generate, modify, TDD, access SCC, etc., and SciTE, ViM or Eclipse as my editor and/or IDE, FireFox/FireBug as my GUI debugger, I have seen development power equivalent to the VFP edit-compile-test cycle: Rapid Application Development faster than the developer's inattention span.

I'm not sure where OpenOffice or iPhones come into this discussion. If you're talking about the "average" business worker's productivity, I can't see how OS X or Linux or netbooks can be compared negatively to a Windows desktop, but I think that's a separate discussion.
Andrew MacNeill said…
Hey Ted, it wasn't quite a thesis but you're right that "productivity" is a pretty broad term. But so is "ready". (as in, is this software "ready" yet? :) )

I was primarily looking at the average business worker vs. the hard-core developer or even "tinkerer" who would do as you suggested and find the best tools for the job (that's why I jumped over to the iPhone, OpenOffice, etc).

Also, I wasn't trying to suggest that OS/X or Linux be considered negative compared to the Windows desktop, but that simply replacing a Windows desktop doesn't make a convincing argument (unless it's a political decision as many have been).

Of the tools you noted, many are available in some way, shape or form in most environments so even there, real productivity in any of those environments is in the hands of the person using it (and maybe that's the real deciding factor here).

But so far, I haven't seen a desktop raise the bar high enough to make switching justifiable for consumers.

It's certainly being tried with 3-D browsing, the switchable windows, etc - but that's eye candy. Just as when PageMaker or Illustrator or Photoshop put publishing and photo editing into a realm where it has never been before, I think the next real OS winner has to make a similar leap. Where that leap is remains to be seen.

Hope all is well with you.

Popular posts from this blog

Well, that explains CodePlex...

In a move that will be sure to anger open source (or rather anti-paid software, anti-Microsoft open source)  zealots, Microsoft is planning to buy GitHub . A year ago, I mused about why Microsoft would shut down CodePlex and how the world needs competing source code repositories to be strong. I'm not the only one per this Slashdot article  : "...   people have warned about GitHub becoming as large as it did as problematic because it concentrates too much of the power to make or break the open source world in a single entity, moreso because there were valid questions about GitHubs financial viability...." - Jacques Mattheij I will be interested in seeing this play out - whether developers jump ship or not. Have all the efforts Microsoft has made in pushing towards open source be seen as genuine or will all the zealots jump ship or maybe even attack? Microsoft's comment about why they shut down CodePlex referred to how spammers were using CodePlex. Well, GitHub

Attending Southwest Fox 2019 could change your life - Find out how

Southwest Fox is coming up in October and as I do every year, I spoke with the organizers Rick , Doug and Tamar on the FoxShow. Deadlines for Southwest Fox: Super-saver price (before July 1): $695 Early-bird price (before August 1): $770 Regular price (August 1 and later): $820 This year, I took a different approach with separate shows for each organizer but the main message is still the same : July 1st is their Go/No-Go date. Conferences don't talk about this very often. I don't think developers really question if Apple will hold their WWDC in June or Microsoft will hold their Build conference - but that's because those conferences are vendor-led. Southwest Fox is a community-driven conference - it's not driven by a company with an agenda. Listen to the interviews and you can hear how important each of the organizers feel the live connection between speakers and among attendees.

Virtual FoxFest - A New Way to Conference

If you haven't been keeping up with the news around the Fox community, the Southwest Fox conference has gone digital now showing up as  Virtual FoxFest .  At $49, it's a steal and a great way to learn some new ideas and get inspired. While the reasoning for this change is fairly obvious with the year of COVID - for me, this is something that has been a long time coming. I appreciate many people's needs for a physical conference but the world is very large and it's difficult to get people from around the world into a single physical location. I recently attended a single-track conference via YouTube (a Quasar conference). YouTube's Live stream provided a very handy way to watch, rewind and communicate with people online. While Tamar, Doug and Rick are still making decisions related to the streaming platform, there are lots of great options available. I'm really looking forward to it. The FoxPro community has also really felt its international roots