Linspire chairman thinks desktop Linux is futile

By Justin Mann on July 3, 2008, 4:02 PM
There are many people who want to see desktop Linux succeed, and there are many companies and independent projects working towards that goal. Linux has very strong ties to the server and embedded markets, and device for device outweighs Windows in the world. However, not everyone agrees trying to erode Microsoft desktop market share is the way to go for Linux growth, and one of those people is a chairman of Linspire.

Michael Robertson of Linspire thinks that pushing Linux onto the desktop has been a near-futile effort, claiming that the “ecosystem” of Windows on the PC is too complex to compete with. That's a far cry from the roots that Linspire came from. As many of us remember, Linspire was once Lindows, and they prided themselves on making an easy to use desktop OS that catered specifically to people coming from Windows. Instead, Robertson now feels post-PC devices, like ultra mobiles and low cost laptops, PDAs and others of their kind are where Linux needs to make its stand.

He's got a point – Linux as a kernel and a platform has been very attractive to the manufacturers of these products. Is the room for growth enough, however?

User Comments: 8

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Stephen Mark said:
I am surprized at the Chairman of Linspire! Of course Linux should keep on with the PC market. People do not dislike Microsoft software, with the exceptions of Millennium and Vista,they dislike Microsoft Bullies Incorporated.Having installed UBUNTU on and old Dell P4 with 512 GB RAM I find this machine run well and fast. My learning curve is increasing and the more it does the more convinced I am that there should be real competition to Microsoft on all fronts.That's what competition and choice are all about. Just because he chickened out the Open Source guys should forget him and carry on developing a system which PC users can appreciate.
captaincranky said:
Could it be that Linspire is not being as widely adopted as other Linux Distros such as Ububtu and openSUSE, and this is a touch of sour grapes? As the chairman admitted, Linspire has always had paid distros, and perhaps it hasn't reaped sufficient financial rewards.
nirkon said:
I am dual booting Ubuntu and XP since yesterday!I have to say though I did have to reinstall XP twice (I did a reformat day, installed XP, SP3, updates, some programs), then installed Ubuntu + 220 updates + drivers then rebooted the computer to XP, installed a Partitioner, restarted and computer wouldn't boot (GRUB ERRORS), so I reinstalled XP and Ubuntu and did all that again except with the partitions.But other than that im very pleased and im using Ubuntu as my main OS from now on.Windows will be just for gaming.
Michael Schmidt said:
I have never been a Micro$oft fan. I ran OS/2 until IBM quit supporting it and I then had to cope with inferior Windows systems until, finally, Micro$oft came out with an OS that was almost as good (XP SP2). I continued to use Windows but kvetched all the time. I don't like the Windows architecture and have always felt that the OS should simply run the hardware. But Micro$oft dictates the hardware that can be run - the tail wagging the dog - and this is most evident with Vista. Also, Micro$oft integrates all kinds of applications into the OS in an effort to circumvent antitrust laws. They claim that they only want to be free to innovate, but their idea of innovation is to see how far they can push the antitrust and copyright laws. From a technical perspective, they mostly copy other companies' ideas and make them proprietary so no one else can use them. Like IBM in the 1970's, they've taken an "if we build it they will buy it" approach to customer satisfaction. Who cares about backward compatibility and ease of integration with non-Micro$oft applications? There is a constant flow of news items about them getting fined or losing a copyright infringement suit and they've run some of my favorite applications out of the market (Corel WordPerfect, Netscape, Real Media), not with better products but with predatory marketing. Now they're trying to screw up the open document standard.Good to get that off my chest. So, a few months back I decided to "put my money where my mouth is" (figuratively, not literally since Linux is free) and ditch Micro$oft. I erased Windows XP and installed Ubuntu. No dual-boot for me - if I'm going to do it, let's go all the way. I've never looked back. Linux runs fast, secure, and stable. The applications are of excellent quality (kudos especially to, Firefox, Thunderbird and Evolution, gIMP, Totem, PostgreSQL, Firestarter, and Pan). Hardy Heron was a little buggy at first but the errors are being fixed and it now runs pretty well. I haven't bothered with Wine because there aren't any Windows applications I need. So, at least from this user's point of view, the Linux desktop project is super! I recommend Ubuntu every chance I get. The biggest barrier I see when I talk with people is that they seem afraid to change - they are so indoctrinated by Micro$oft. Frustration with Vista may help move Micro$oft victims (er, customers) to the wonderful world of Linux. Here's hoping!
darkshadoe said:
The linux comunity needs to come together and come up with one solid commercial version of linux. Then they need to stop wasting time making thousands of programs that no one ever or rarely uses and put that time into developing software that a regular person can use and will need, along with game development. If done correctly, they could drive Microsoft into the ground. I'm not saying that Linux should be a corperation like Microsoft, they should just put their resources to better use.
Quantex_rox said:
In there, it says "device for device outweighs Windows in the world," but windows run on 90.89% of the computers, mac runs 7.94% of the computers, linux 0.80% of the computers, sunOS 0.01% of computers, 0.36% other.
Rick said:
Here's one of main issues with Linux on your mom's desktop - It was never intended to be there.Mr. Torvald's philosophy has always been function over form, which is fantastic for the market that Linux has really penetrated - servers. Linux was never intended to be easy to use or configure and this is its issue. Linus has said that himself. And that is its main issue.Thanks to its open source roots, its evolved to meet the needs of mom and pop the best it can, but it will be a long time before it "works as well as Windows"... at least to most users. And Windows isn't going to idle by either, so its uphill battle for sure. Linux has been written from the ground with CLI first, GUI second. It's not much more than a gargantuan collection of thousands of configuration files, much of which don't have front ends or require some arcane knowledge of Linux and your hardware to use.Apple did a fantastic job 'converting' BSD to what is now OS X. I would consider it a success. But MUCH of it had to be rewritten. It wasn't even POSIX standard up until the release of Leopard... and for that reason, it has certainly not been a 'Unix' clone, like all of the other *nix OSes. And the main reason Apple was able to get away with it is because of their tiny ecosystem of hardware, hand-picked and assembled by Apple itself. When you know what everyone's computer is going to be like, you can better target your software to work on your specific platforms and devices. Windows PCs can't do this and face (what has been one of) the greatest challenges for Linux - manufacturer support. Things like drivers are necessary for many devices and many FOSS community drivers don't exist or don't work well enough since they have to be 'guessed at' or 'reverse engineered'. And very few (comparatively) manufacturers offer officially supported drivers for Linux let alone ones that are up to date and EVEN IF they do provide free drivers, they are often still not FOSS; therefore, they don't support the spirit of Linux. Thankfully, manufacturer support is improving. Thankfully, Linux continues to evolve towards more user-friendly behavior. Unfortunately, I can't imagine Linux on my Mom's desktop for many, many years... and it is barely at the point where its on *mine*.I like Linux, but what I'd like to see is a revolution. A new OS built from scratch, perhaps by an important conglomerate of core industry companies with deep pockets by developers that really believe in making an operating system for the people. The focus would be on the user and making things simple, light and modular and still retain plenty of functionality with open standards. It sounds a bit like Linux - but now that we've learned from our mistakes and successes - developers can make something better for your average user than Linux could probably ever be patched up to be... or at least for many years to come.
mut80r said:
I completely agree with Michael.
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