Linux, the Desktop Whimp?

If you read comics books from the late 1930s thru to the mid 1960s (think Archie, Batman, Captain America, Fantastic Four, Superman, Wonder Woman … oops, am I revealing too much ?), you undoubtedly recall the Charles Atlas Body Building comic book ads. The ads were of various size (see the full length one above – and go here for a full gallery). The ones I remember were usually 3 panel cartoons for the Body Building program. The first panel shows a thin whimp of a guy getting sand kicked in his face on the beach by some muscle bound bully. The second panel shows ripple muscled Charles Atlas saying “You don’t have to be a whimp. Just take my simple 3 week (c)Body Building program and you will have your day on the beach”. And then the third panel shows a Whimp Transformed into a new Muscle-bound Specimen clutching not a few admiring bathing suit babes while glowering at the now fearful Muscle Beach Bully boy.

Return now to present days.

Inkscape is an example of Linux graphics software – which works in Windows

Alas Linux the Desktop Whimp, even exercised and energized by Open Source muscle, still can’t even eek out a tiny spot on the PC Desktop Market beach against a corpulent, cumbersome and crickety-slow tag team of Microsoft Windows XP and Vista. For shame.

Lets look at Windows Own Whimpy Details:
Speed of operation – Decided advantage to Linux over both Windows XP and especially crickety-slow Vista
Resources required – Decided advantage again to Linux over XP and especially corpulent Vista
Reliability of operations – Decided advantage to Linux over XP and Vista
Security of operations – XP and Vista finally approaching Linux levels
Ease of operations – Linux and XP on par, but Vista is very cumbersome with security zeal, new layout
Support for devices, peripherals – Mixed, XP is best but Vista and Linux are roughly equal
Support for GUI/widgets – All about equal but Windows 7/Vista II with 3D and multi-touch may move ahead
Support for audio/video/media/games = Mixed XP is best with Vista and Linux roughly equal
Browser support – native Linux browsers or Chrome or Firefox are vastly superior to IE8 or less*
Development languages – Decided advantage to Linux because Microsoft going to .NET mono-culture
Development tools – Despite Netbeans and Eclipse and Gnu, advantage to XP and then Vista
Communications, email – Roughly equal among all 3 OS
Basic Office Suite – Linux cheaper but XP and Vista have market share
Basic Core utilities – Windows tools getting very long in tooth (e.g. Paint, Notepad, etc)
Image and media software – XP and Vista lead Linux
Other software categories – XP dominates Vista and Linux roughly comparable
Cost of OS software – Linux dominates both XP and Vista
Cost of application software – Linux dominates both XP and Vista**
Screenshot not of MacOS but DreamLinux

So if we go by feature and support “muscles” Linux clearly leads in 10 of 18 categories, XP leads in 6 and 2 are a draw. But look at Vista – its not Wow but really the Whimp on the desktop scene. But first Microsoft “sold” it to the IT trade press and then it has forced it down the throats of consumers taking XP off the market in June of 2008 and only allowing dual versions to be sold to business customers at a premium and often without Vista preloaded. Vista is such a disaster I can’t wait until Windows 7 is released because the full fury of Redmond will then be unleashed on Vista – I suspect Redmond PR and “experts’ will trash Vista as harshly and unmercifully as they did OS/2 (the OS Microsoft originally worked on back in the days of “cooperation” with IBM).

So Linux-lovers, given Vista placed on a platter of incompetence – Wazzup? Why no significant market share gains? Microsoft surely can be beaten. Witness Mozilla, Safari, Opera and now Chrome wresting 35% of the browser market and growing from IE. Don’t tell me the masses are too dumb – or the Microsoft lead in market share and apps is so large that there is no chance to catch up. Rather pay attention to the Parable of the Eee.

The Parable of the Asus Eee

eeeNearly two years ago Asus released a $300, 2 pound Netbook computer with 7.5in diagonal screen, full keyboard, no hard disk but 500MB RAM on board and Flash memory of several gigabytes substituting for traditional hard disk. It ran Linux with full, fast, GUI interface and got WiFi in a hurry. It is very good – less than half the weight and double the battery life of luvable … no no luggable laptops. I am convinced all smartphones will morph into Asus Eee like Netbooks with touch screens and unbelievably fast SSD drives over the next few years. But the important point is that here was a ‘desktop’ dominated by Linux.

But not for long. All Microsoft had to do this past August after killing XP was to resurrect it. Redmond announced that because Vista wouldn’t fit on most Netbook’s memory footprint, they would make available a special, limited-capability version of XP for use on Asus Eee-like Netbooks. Okay, Redmond didn’t slander Vista but just wait.

Lo and behold, Asus suddenly delivered all of it 10″ line of Asus Eee preloaded with Windows XP and with advertising proclaiming prominently  on its Eee promos that  “Asus recommends Windows (r) for every day computing.” Soon all the PC makers stampeding to the category announced their Netbooks would be featuring the crippled but resurrected XP with slightly bigger screen, memory and USB ports, but decidedly larger price tag – $400 to 600. And for many of these new Netbook vendors no Linux version would be available. In an instant, Linux went from dominating the Netbook category to also-rammed-a-plateful- of beach-sand-in-the-face OS.

So that is the Parable of the Eee.  Linux can pioneer and even lead a market; but it appears all Microsoft has to do is say boo and everybody goes to Windows despite the added cost, the poor OS and utilities, and the horror prospect of going to el bloato, Vista. Or maybe there is more to this than meets the eye, eye sir. May be I have overrated Linux versus Windows Xp. Or maybe there is some crippling “gotcha”. Now I have some explanations for this parable on why Linux on the desktop got kicked sand in its face yet again by Microsoft. But before adding my two cents I encourage readers to send in their comments. The best comments posted here will get an baseball cap and t-shirt. There must be a good interpretation for the Parable of the Eee.

Notice as of Sunday Feb 5:00PM EST, the only comment so far is a Microsofty doing a “Linux Fanboy” kick-sand-in-your face comment (see below).

*Now some will argue that Chrome and Firefox are available on Windows XP and Vista; but there is an important hitch – Microsoft’s Windows development tools and programs only guarantee to work with IE. If you are using Chrome, Firefox or Safari Microsoft support almost immediately checks out.

Charles Atlas and the ads relating to Charles Atlas, including “The Insult That Made A Man Out Of Mac” and “Hey Skinny” are registered trademarks owned by Charles Atlas, Ltd. 2009 All Rights Reserved.
**Also some will argue that most Open Source software is available on Windows XP and Vista; but there is quite a few software packages only available in Linux. Also Linux desktop software prices tend to be cheaper than Windows.

4 thoughts on “Linux, the Desktop Whimp?”

  1. You criticize “linux fanboys” for liking linux over xp/vista. I recently loaded ubuntu with KDE 4.2 onto a 5 year old computer (Dell GX280) with only 1.5GB of RAM and the standard on-board video card, single core 2.8GHz processor, 40GB hdd and it runs better than any computer I’ve had with XP. Additionally, it looks better than XP and has most of the visual capabilities of Vista but with much, much less resource usage. I feel like the “fanboys” you criticize have all the right to criticize windows based on my short experience with linux Needless to say, I feel like a Linux is a superior os. Oh, and its free.

  2. I would like to add the following blog commentaries I have discovered in the past few days:
    Lentil Soup – The sad state of the Linux Desktop notes that to get things working in even the one of the most user friendly Linux distros – users are required to do Terminal compiles and other expert/hacker level work(no details provided so I am a bit suspicious).

  3. Charles Atlas and the ads relating to Charles Atlas, including “The Insult That Made A Man Out Of Mac” and “Hey Skinny” are registered trademarks owned by Charles Atlas, Ltd. 2009 All Rights Reserved.

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