How Linux Land Got Better Since Last Summer

If the end of the year is a good time to take stock of all that’s passed in the preceding 12 months, then why not the end of the summer?

That, indeed, is just what Linux bloggers have been doing over the past week or so, thanks to a recent Open Ballot on TuxRadar.

“Out of all the changes we’ve seen in the Linux world in the last year, what’s your favourite?” was the question being posed, and Linux fans had no shortage of answers.

‘Ubuntu 10.04!’

“The biggest improvement in linux for me is the better and easier to use look from linux nowadays,” wrote Penguin Timo, for example. “For me it’s great to see there are a lot of distros focusing on the usability of the system.”

Then again, “it’s got to be Android, which has gained significant popular momentum this year,” offered Marvin.

Alternatively, “Ubuntu 10.04! Core Performance Boost! Linux 2.6.30s! Better Filesystems!” chimed in Dan Dart.

And one more: “Gotta be KDE SC 4,” opined guadever. “Huge leap from KDE 3. Finally usable, beautiful and simply awesome.”

Linux Girl is always cheerful as summer draws to a close, so the optimism of TuxRadar’s question — and all the scores of ensuing answers — was irresistible. She took her own small poll to see what others remembered most fondly.

‘SCO Losing Everything’

“I’m a huge fan of the work done accelerating boot times,” Montreal consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told Linux Girl.

“My laptop now takes a fraction of the time it did to boot, and I now don’t hate traveling quite as much,” Mack explained.

“No. 1 absolutely has to be SCO losing everything in court,” asserted Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site. “They finally got their much-touted opportunity to put their case before a jury, bet the company, and lost.”

SCO was “the hit man in a nasty, well-funded attack on linux that was supported by much of the media, but that ended up backfiring by validating everything we’ve been saying about linux and the GPL software development model,” Hudson added. “That’s a HUGE improvement in the linux world, and this is why it ranks No. 1 in my book.”

‘Continual Refinements in KDE’

The effects, moreover, are already being felt, Hudson added.

“There’s no more open talk about linux being a cancer, or trash-talking the GPL by nonsensically likening it to a virus,” she pointed out.

Other items on Hudson’s list?

“No. 2 would have to be the much higher rate of uptake of Android over the iPhone,” she noted. “Just as the iPhone came out of nowhere and shook up the mobile industry in a couple of years, Android is doing the same.”

No. 3, meanwhile, “would be the continual refinements in KDE,” Hudson said. “Not the compiz eye candy — I don’t even use compiz — but the pay-off from the initially bumpy change-over from the version 3 architecture to version 4.”

‘Make User Experience Job No. 1!’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet disputed the focus of the question.

“Everyone in Linux development seems to be wasting more time on the ‘bling factor’ like multi-touch and 3D desktop junk, and not nearly enough on the fundamentals,” hairyfeet charged.

“Backwards compatibility with regards to drivers is horrible, I have yet to do an upgrade that didn’t break something, a single source to allow me to tell what works hardware-wise and what doesn’t STILL doesn’t exist, Linux still falls back to CLI waaaay too often, and it relies too much on ‘fixes,'” he explained.

“In short, quit worrying about the bling bling and make user experience job No. 1!” he entreated. “The user shouldn’t need to know anything more about his OS than he/she does any other appliance.”

‘It’s Just Better’

Others, however, saw plenty to celebrate.

“My favourite change in the world of GNU/Linux this year is that GNU/Linux is being accepted by more people as a better way to do IT on the desktop as well as the server,” blogger and educator Robert Pogson began. “All the advantages of stability, efficiency, security, low cost, etc., that benefit us who use GNU/Linux on the server also apply to those using GNU/Linux on the desktop.”

Pogson introduced GNU/Linux to his students last year, and “they were amazed how fast it was compared to XP on the same hardware,” he recalled. “We even got some new machines with XP on them and the old machines with GNU/Linux were faster.”

Much the same thing is happening “all over the world as people struggle with the decision about what to do with XP and old machines,” Pogson explained. “For almost zero cost, one can obtain an old machine, put GNU/Linux on it and be better off than buying a new machine.”

Same goes for businesses, in fact — many of which have “rejected migration to ‘7’ because of the cost of all new PCs,” Pogson pointed out. “Many will choose GNU/Linux. It’s just better, and they don’t need to buy new PCs to get better performance.”

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