Ubuntu loosing its popularity

Liam Proven lproven at gmail.com
Thu Dec 1 13:57:24 UTC 2011

On 1 December 2011 05:27, Cybe R. Wizard <cybe_r_wizard at earthlink.net> wrote:
> On Thu, 1 Dec 2011 02:45:12 +0000
> Liam Proven <lproven at gmail.com> wrote:
>> The one that infringes 235 Microsoft patents and over which it was
>> threatening to sue, yes.
> Alleged infringements.  _/Alleged/_.  No proof, no offer of any.
> Geeze, Liam, you're starting to sound like a Microsoft apologist.  How
> about someone actually pointing out any infringing stuff, much less
> really /proving/ it in a court of law before you start stating the
> Microsoft threats as fact?

I am considering a detailed analysis, but it's going to be several
weeks of hard work and unless I can find someone to pay for it, it's a
tricky proposition how I can justify it as a freelancer. It won't make
riveting reading.

I have been working with and supporting MICROS~1 products
professionally, including Windows, for twenty-three wretched years. I
know them inside out and back to front, from before Windows 3.0 was
released. I also have used or worked with Mac System 5 onwards, DR GEM
in both PC and ST incarnations, Amiga Intuition, SunOS and OpenLook,
Acorn RISC OS 2 onwards, Psion EPOC, GEOS, OS/2 and various other
1980s GUIs. I have a nodding acquaintance with NeXTStep, CDE/Motif,
the Apple Lisa and various others.

The thing that I am coming to realise is that this places me in a very
rare position. PCs exploded onto the world stage in the late 1990s
with the rise of the WorldWideWeb. Most individuals didn't own one
until the 21st century. Most PC technical professionals are in their
20s or 30s and have never seen or used 1980s or early 1990s software.

The technical commentators and movers-and-shakers who were around when
this stuff was being created, in the 1970s and 1980s, have moved on -
they've either retired or they're senior management now. Or they're
dead - lot of fat, sedentary geeky types, addicted to junk food and
caffeinated drinks and consequently with very poor health in that

I have a personal maxim: competent IT techies know multiple platforms.
If someone doesn't know many platforms - x86, RISC, other CISC chips,
DOS, Windows, Unix and a few other unrelated OSs - then they're no
damned good as a techie.

But that is an old man's POV. Most kids in the business now know
nothing except PCs running recent Microsoft OSs, ones that only came
out since the big UI redesign of the 1990s. They have never seen
anything else.

They look at something different, such as a PC running a Unix instead,
and think that this means they're cross-platform.

Well, it really doesn't.

Unless someone is familiar with and competent in /multiple/ platforms
/totally unrelated to the x86 PC and Microsoft OSs/ then they don't
actually know anything about the breadth of software design, function
and implementation.

If all someone has ever seen is Microsoft OSs from the late 1990s
onwards - Windows 95/98/ME, NT4/2000/XP/Vista/7 - then they don't know
*ANYTHING AT ALL* about GUI design because *they've only ever used
ONE.* The products all have exactly the same GUI.

And if they maybe have a tiny bit of exposure to the Mac, well, that
helps a little, but not much, because large elements of the Windows
GUI were ripped off from the Mac in the first place.

The *only* way to *really* understand GUI design and implementation is
familiarity with GUIs that were complete and finished before about
1993 when the betas of "Windows 4" started to leak, because almost
everything after that is coloured by the monopoly power in IT:

And the big problem that this causes is an aspect of human nature.
Once someone is getting on in years and has a large amount of
knowledge in an area, has become an expert, then it becomes very hard
to change their mind. They become convinced that they are right.

Everyone knew that swans were white until Europeans colonised
Australia, because all swans /that they knew about/ were white. There
were millions of black swans, but they were far away and the people
that knew about them were nobody anyone listened to.

The point of all this is that there are lots of examples of GUIs out
there that show how different and diverse GUIs can be - but few people
remember them.

There are lots of non-Windows-like desktops and window managers *on
Linux* that don't look or work like Windows, but nobody much uses
them. Anyone here used wm2? Twm? Olwm?

Forget metacity, clutter, kwm, xfwm, fvwm, fvwm95, icewm - they're all

And of course a window manager is only a small part of a desktop.
There are at least 2 complete desktop environments that I know of for
Linux that are based on pre-Windows-9x OSs: GNUstep and ROX Desktop.
You know how many distros offer these as an option? None. Not a one.
I've looked.

(No, not Rox-filer, the whole Rox-desktop. It's not even an option in Debian.)

Plus, of course, all the apps on Linux tend to be modelled on Windows
apps. All the bundled ones in Ubuntu are. Firefox, Evolution,
Thunderbird, Pidgin, Empathy, Rhythmbox, Banshee - all Windows-style
apps. So build a desktop around them and you still have a large
element of the Windows experience. It's inescapable.

Microsoft isn't shouting at anyone. It has merely coughed discreetly
and mentioned this.

The FOSS community *should* have gone "ohhh s***, they're right! We'd
better get moving!"

But no, because there are hardly any people left who actually remember
how things were before the MS monopoly, who realise that MS is in fact
absolutely right.

So instead, the FOSS community has mostly just gone "ahh,
fuggedaboudit, it's all bluster. We don't use any of their code, we've
got nothing to worry about."

Or, of course, it's signed MS' nasty little pacts. And look at who did that?

Linspire - dead.
Xandros - good as dead.
Turbolinux - good as dead.
SUSE - struggling, after 3 takeovers in a row.

> Threats don't do damage.  Action /may/.  /MAY/.

/Au contraire./ Threats can do immense damage and can move entire
nations, and often have.

> Many threats, no action=little boy shouting, "wolf!"

It can do, but not always.

Liam Proven • Info & profile: http://www.google.com/profiles/lproven
Email: lproven at cix.co.uk • GMail/GoogleTalk/Orkut: lproven at gmail.com
Tel: +44 20-8685-0498 • Cell: +44 7939-087884 • Fax: + 44 870-9151419
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