Is Linux a desktop operating system?

dave walker dave at
Wed May 25 20:47:56 UTC 2005

hagen van rissenbeck wrote:

> Hi, everybody,
> I am running linux distris since winter 2001/2002.
> I am teaching business and economics, some of my audiences are it - 
> specialists. Therefore I started to think about operating systems as a 
> market.
> In the beginning I thought that the competition between linux and m$ 
> is mainly a question of usability or comfort or everything that seems 
> to be managed for the typical user who only wants to write texts, 
> surfs the net, corresponds to friends via email or downloads mp3s, 
> videos or any other stuff.
> Today I am in the start up phase of my own business. And I've 
> realised, that being the operating system on a users pc is first a 
> question of so called "first mover advantages".
> General Customers buy what they get (customers especially in the 
> industrial belts on the planet), and what they get is a m$ - os. 
> Sometimes they don't buy it, because they use cracked versions ;-(
> The problem is: the growth of the market share is limited by the offer 
> of preinstalled linuxsystems. Only a minority of users is curious 
> enough to try an individual linux install at home. They fear crashing 
> their systems.
> They use m$ NOT because it is the better desktop os, they use it, 
> because it is preinstalled.
> And you know, that a lot of your windows friends are not happy with 
> the problems they have with the m$-os ;-)  ;-)
> On the other side, when Linux is installed, everything works the same 
> way than m$.
> Mouseclicks are nearly the same, additionally (an advantage of linux) 
> everything what the typicall user needs is preinstalled.
> And if a user has got a problem with his/her pc , he/she needs support 
> by a friend. One other lack of linux compared to m$.
> ...and then, the drivers for new hardware (o.K, I stop here)
> Just wait until longhorn is coming, or the next wave of viruses....
> I think that pc-users change to linux when they have realised, how 
> they benefit from tux-technology...and there should be linux-pcs on 
> the market place.
> Linux, especially ubuntu is of course ready for the desktop, but the 
> pc-sellers and hardware-producers are mainly not ready for linux (they 
> don't want to?).
> Hagen
I am going to have to disagree with a few of your points.  I agree 
people who use Windows are using it because they are not looking to 
install and potentially 'crash their systems', or they don't want to 
try.  And for good reason.  There have been times where everyone who is 
reading this would have had a hosed system if it was not for their 
understanding of the command line, and ability to edit config files.  
The standard user does not know about changing their resolution in 

However, I am going to disagree that that is the main or only reason.  
People have seen the IBM Linux ads on TV (at least in the US) and they 
hear about it every now-and-again in the media, like New York Times.  I 
am going to say people are using Windows because they have used it for 
as long as they have owned a computer.  You are right, that the lack of 
choice prevents this.  But people stay with what they are comfortable 
with.  The learning curve is not an easy one, granted that it is leaps 
and bounds easier than 1 or 5 years ago.

I believe, correct me if I am wrong, there are hardware companies that 
are trying to get support into Linux more and more.  Places like nVidia 
release drivers for Linux, however can not release the source because of 
some NDA they have.  Taking this further, my opinion is that the nvidia 
X driver is much better than the open source nv driver.  How would a 
normal user know or care about the difference.  All the user knows is 
that some 'magic' happens to make a computer work.

I also think the problem lies in the software.  Linux stacks sort by far 
on this one.  Everyone and their mother who write business software are 
writing it in Windows only.  Programs like wine can't keep up with the 
advances with that software.  Even programs that are coded for Linux to 
compete with Windows ones fall short.  I have to say MS Office is still 
better and more feature complete than OpenOffice is.  Now I have not 
used OpenOffice 2.0 yet so maybe it has made a comeback.

The one thing you have to remember is that as much as we don't like 
Windows, it still is a tool that has a purpose.  All Linux 
distrobutions, even Ubuntu, is not ready to be pushed to the standard 
user.  I think we are getting closer, and more automatic.  Windows is a, 
don't kill me, great OS for that user, as much as I don't like to think 
that.  Ubuntu has and is doing a fantastic job on making a desktop OS.


Dave Walker
Computer Science House
azrail at

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