November 01, 2008

2009 will be the year of Linux

Honest. At least, that's what Jim Zemlin thinks. And he should know, because he is an executive director at... oh, the Linux Foundation. Mmmh.

The resilience of Linux advocates never ceases to surprise me. I think that nothing short of the sun going super nova will make them stop believing that Linux will ever become mainstream.

This article hits a new high, though, because the rationale behind this prediction is a new system that allows Linux systems to boot in just a few seconds. And just based on this wonderful technology, Jim predicts that Linux will ship more desktops than Windows in 2009.

I really wonder if I live on the same planet.

Regardless of the mathematical impossibility of such a prediction just based on market share alone (not helped by the fact that Wal Mart recently announced it would stop selling Linux computers), the claim that boot times are so important is just plain absurd. Most computers simply go to sleep or hibernate when users turn them off, and from my experience, Windows, Vista and Mac OS turn back on in less than ten seconds in these conditions. Ironically, Linux laptops are still struggling with the concept of hibernation, so it's quite possible that Linux users shut their machine off completely much more often than Windows and Mac users do, which would explain why boot times are so important to them.

Linux users turning off their machines all the time... Anybody else seeing the irony in that?

But the absurdity doesn't stop here.

A recent article in the New York Times makes a similar claim, saying that 30 seconds to boot are 29 too many. I couldn't help but chuckle at the following:

Better, but what I want is a machine thatís ready in about a second, just like my smartphone.
One second to boot a smart phone? Or even a regular phone? I don't think so. The fastest boots I have seen in any kind of phones usually take in the 10-15 seconds to boot (and much longer for more recent smart phones, ironically).

Maybe the author was talking about a phone that's already running, then? Of course, in this case, you can indeed flip your phone open or wake it up with a gesture, none of which will take more than one or two seconds. But we are now talking about waking up a device from hibernation or stand by, so let's apply this comparison fairly, shall we? Admittedly, phones still beat computers in time-to-wake-up, but we are really comparing 2 seconds and 5 here, which is no cause for stopping the presses, although it was apparently worthy of an article in the New York Times.

At least, the New York Times piece barely mentions Linux, so it's a little more credible than Jim Zemlin's self serving article, but if what I have read in the recent weeks is any indication, 2009 will be the year of Windows 7, not Linux.

Posted by cedric at November 1, 2008 10:33 PM

Comments

BTW, Android is Linux

Posted by: Anthony Jen at November 1, 2008 11:52 PM

Mmmh, yes, I know, I work on Android.

Maybe we could say that 2009 will be the year of Linux on the phone :-)

Posted by: Cedric at November 2, 2008 12:09 AM

Not if T-Mobile's horrible marketing department has anything to do with it.

Posted by: Mike at November 2, 2008 06:11 AM

i use linux at home, not because i want to, but because xp stopped recognizing my hard drive. while i can get the job done, i still think it smells. i have put so much time into it just to get simple things to work: screen resolution, wireless mouse (replaced already), sound .... frankly, linux is seriously over-hyped.

i turn my machine off every night to conserve power. off simply because hibernate and standby were things i never got to work.

Posted by: unacoder at November 2, 2008 06:25 AM

hi cedric,

if I remember you right, you've been saying that Windows is a power user's dream. It really is(meaning, a Desktop power user's dream). I dual boot to Ubuntu on my home laptop! and I can feel crippled a few times when I want the power of Task Manager or sysinternals Process Explorer or Process Monitor.

WIN +R : running a program makes life a lot more easier.

Also Ubuntu and other distro have stopped making DVD distros forcing you to get a lot of the packages after you download and install.

For server tasks, Linux is king with all the console mode programs BUT even the server version(the ones with GUI) could do with a decent Task Manager or Process Explorer.

I see that more and more software engineers are taking to Linux. This will make them adopt linux as a dual boot BUT that probably won't make it the primary desktop. The GUI looks kinda rough. Where is the cleartype applet that makes my windows desktop so much better ?

Posted by: anjan bacchu at November 2, 2008 10:30 AM

Unless I'm mistaken, you've got the wrong end of the stick. It's saying that Linux will be shipped on more desktops (hyperbole, sure) because it's included in the computer itself, not because they're going to be running it as the primary OS. It's like the ROM BASIC from the IBM XT days, only much more advanced.

Posted by: Robin at November 2, 2008 03:31 PM

Maybe what he's really saying is that 2009 will be the year of the laptop. Windows users will all be buying laptops. Linux users know enough not to try to run Linux on a laptop, so they'll still be buying desktops. Hence, Linux >> Windows on desktops.

Posted by: Brandon at November 2, 2008 09:20 PM

cedric,

I am sure kicking into linux feels good ie "Ironically, Linux laptops are still struggling with the concept of hibernation, so it's quite possible that Linux users shut their machine off completely much more often than Windows and Mac users do, which would explain why boot times are so important to them. "

but you missed the point *entirely* (please read the times article again or go to say splashtop.com).

"Splashtop is preinstalled on the hard drive or in the on-board Flash memory of new PCs and motherboards by their manufacturers"

the splashtop technology (based on linux) has nothing to do with your primary OS (which still can be windows).

Posted by: poko at November 3, 2008 04:15 AM

The fastest boots I ever encountered were 1) on my TRS-80 Color Computer, and my Handspring Visor Prism and/or Palm Computing Device.

Posted by: mjasnowski at November 3, 2008 06:54 AM

I don't believe that saying Linux is over-hyped is 100% in the context. The desktop distributions are the only ones that are over-hyped (see Ubuntu series). Let's not forget what Linux stands for on the server-side.

In my opinion, Linux will never truly make it on the desktop. Or at least not in it's current condition (and again, I am talking here about Ubuntu - which is a lot better than most desktop distros). I use Linux for some time now, but, indeed, I used to spend a lot of time to figure out simple issues like resolution, wireless, etc.

But I am f**kin' developer so I know what I am doing 80% of the time on a Linux box. You can't get an accountant or a sales guy to compile his audio player to listen to some music - that's a no-go. Linux won't make it in the end-user market without strong support for usability. These guys are spending lots of time on Beryl and other crappy eye-candy-enhancing-bullshit and (almost) nobody cares about the god damn user.

Posted by: at November 3, 2008 11:34 PM

"These guys are spending lots of time on Beryl and other crappy eye-candy-enhancing-bullshit and (almost) nobody cares about the god damn user."

And that is intentional. The Linux crowd is so arrogant with little self esteem that they WANT you to praise them for their understanding of technical stuff. They therefore make it hard. And therefore make themselves look smart. It feeds their ego.

But it's not just Linux. It's Perl. It's regex. It's anything that makes technology hard to use.

They perpetuate this problem, and Windows (as flawed as it is), make billions.

If you made Linux truly user friendly, they'd make another OS that was hard to use and repeat the cycle.

They want it this way.

Notice, however, as an anecdote, that for all the complexity of Google's search algorithms, their UI is notoriously...simple.

They're repeating Gates' success formula: complex (if need be) on the inside...easy to use on the outside.

Posted by: weebil at November 4, 2008 07:56 PM

"These guys are spending lots of time on Beryl and other crappy eye-candy-enhancing-bullshit and (almost) nobody cares about the god damn user."

And that is intentional. The Linux crowd is so arrogant with little self esteem that they WANT you to praise them for their understanding of technical stuff. They therefore make it hard. And therefore make themselves look smart. It feeds their ego.

But it's not just Linux. It's Perl. It's regex. It's anything that makes technology hard to use.

They perpetuate this problem, and Windows (as flawed as it is), make billions.

If you made Linux truly user friendly, they'd make another OS that was hard to use and repeat the cycle.

They want it this way.

Notice, however, as an anecdote, that for all the complexity of Google's search algorithms, their UI is notoriously...simple.

They're repeating Gates' success formula: complex (if need be) on the inside...easy to use on the outside.

Posted by: weebil at November 4, 2008 07:58 PM

Linux on the desktop, that probably makes no sense for Joe the Plumber. He's been educated with Windows so he's used to that and anyway he needs simple things so Windows is enough for him.

On my side I use Linux because I have been using UNIX for 20 years. And also because it looks like I can't find my way in Windows GUIs. XP is a nice and stable gaming OS for me (though my PS3 is better at that).

What I find ironic is that some ex-UNIX gurus and lovers switched to Windows and started to laugh at Linux. Everyone has the right to dislike the Linux hacker community behavior (I do). Does that dismiss Linux? No, and I tend to think that those who have a problem with that arrogant community should cure something else :-)

I think that Linux and Apple exclusive lovers are dumb, but the same stands for MS lovers and gurus (no, I won't dig out some famous Gates quotes :)

Oh and my Linux laptop has no issue with hibernation, while I could never make it work for my Windows desktop.

Posted by: Laurent at November 10, 2008 08:28 AM

Just as a partial counter to your argument, the sole reason I could justify a mac laptop to myself is because I've never seen a PC able to reliably suspend and restore more than a trivial number of times, and generally after the first suspend/restore, stability is degraded until a reboot.

If a Linux machine could boot and shut down in a few seconds, I'd seriously (re)consider it (I haven't liked linux's suspend/restore any more than Windows...)

Apple is the only company that got suspend/resume right, and they did it through limiting hardware... I'm sure if Microsoft only had a single hardware target they'd be at least as good as the Mac at this.

Oh, also a neat trick--the mac suspends and hibernates at the same time every time you close the lid. You never notice the hibernate and there is no option for it, but if you yank the battery, it'll still resume properly on the next boot--pretty cool trick.

Posted by: Bill at November 10, 2008 04:57 PM

I switched to Ubuntu 10 months ago on my Dell laptop and I am pretty much satisfied.. thinking of Windows as my ex ... just I don't believe how on earth I used to live with her !

Posted by: Youssef at November 24, 2008 09:43 PM

I use Kubuntu on my laptop, as my primary OS. Works great for me, but then again, I'm a software engineer.

But I also built a little computer for $200 in parts, and it runs Kubuntu also. This computer lives in the kitchen, and is used by the family for web browsing, email, and flash games. Works great. Free OS. If it had to run Vista, it would need another $500 in parts.

So, as Linux matures, I think it will capture more and more of the market share. It's infinitely less expensive than Windows, for one thing.

And what of this rumor I heard, that Windows 7 will charge $29 per month to license you a copy of their OS? If they do that, there's going to be a mass migration to free operating systems, and Linux is on the top of that heap.

Posted by: Eric Wadsworth at December 6, 2008 10:14 AM

there wont be any mass migration if MS make windows a subscription model. people will just defeat it like they have with serial numbers, and product activation so far.

Posted by: kosh at February 25, 2009 12:20 AM

I've read articles stating that every year since 1996 was going to be the "year of Linux". It's here now, and has been for at least ten years. The problem for Linux is to get more market share, and that's hard to do when Linux is fragmented among so many different flavors.

Posted by: Andrew P. at April 13, 2009 12:25 PM
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