Linux Blog Safari: Who’s King of the Jungle?

Linux fans love to debate the pros and cons of myriad technologies, but none more than operating systems — and you can bet the usual winner isn’t based in Redmond or Cupertino.

This week the question was raised once again on Slashdot, spurred by a Linux Magazine comparison of Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon and Mac OS X Leopard and drawing well nigh 600 comments by Friday. Which operating system is King of the Jungle is a question that no doubt will continue to be debated as long as a jungle exists, but that doesn’t mean the debates can’t get heated now, too.

‘The Market Has Spoken’

“Feisty and Gutsy have been the first Linux distros that I had virtually no problems with,” noted Brad1138. “I have no thoughts of getting rid of Ubuntu. I much prefer Gutsy to XP.”

“Ubuntu just as good? No. Free software just isn’t there yet,” argued brad-x. “If it were, Dell, HP and Acer would have dumped Microsoft quite some time ago in the home market. People want cheap and easy. Not necessarily good, just cheap and easy. Linux doesn’t even qualify as that yet – the market has spoken as always.

“The Mac is capable of empowering users (even seasoned Linux users) to do far more with much more efficiency, but one must accept the application of its metaphors rather than demanding that it work the way they want and complaining bitterly when it won’t,” brad-x added. “Troubling that slashdot always posts articles like this. Slashdotters are by far the worst enemies of good user interface design.”

Which Is More Gibbony?

“I’m so sick and tired of these comparisons,” complained Tatsh. “I really don’t care anymore, whether it’s Linux vs OS X, Windows, Solaris, or whatever. It’s so annoying and I won’t even read TFA.

“Once again, we come to the conclusion that different operating systems do the same things differently!” Tatsh added. “Wow! Yet another person wasted another few days trying out two OS’s rather than getting any real work done. So cool!”

Perhaps the best summary of the conversation, however, came from Kohath: “The Ubuntu OS exceeds the Mac OS in Gibboniness, whereas Apple seems to have cornered the market on Leopardiness. The overall Toucaniness and Salamanderiness of the offerings is about the same.”

Linux Crossfire

“Ubuntu makes progress, but it’s still mostly a universe where, if Ubuntu wins your heart, it’s because you have a friend, a relative, a neighbor who’s convinced you to try it,” Slashdot blogger yagu told LinuxInsider. “Otherwise, Mac wins with sexiness, marketing, and rock solid out-of-the-box quality (easy to do when you tightly control the hardware configurations).

“If I’m making a recommendation as technical support I still recommend Mac for that reason,” yagu added. “Ubuntu is good, but I’ll not subject friend or family to the crossfire the first time they have a ‘noobie’ question for the Linux community. They’ll have a safer and calmer experience with the Mac.”

Red Hat Delays

News that codec problems have delayed the launch of Red Hat’s PC software also drew a variety of comments on the Linux blogs, including the Linux Loop, as well as a related discussion of free codecs on the Red Hat blogs.

Finally, picking up on the ongoing theme this fall of Linux’s role in low-end computing — prompted largely by its inclusion on Wal-Mart’s low-end PC — a discussion back on Slashdot posed the question of whether Linux will, ultimately, take over low-end computing.

“In some ways Linux isn’t winning the low end PC market, it’s defining it,” yagu said. “The price of Vista alone complicates building a low end PC. We are nearing a time where Microsoft’s OS is the largest-price component of a low end PC. Couple that with hefty processor and memory requirements to run that expensive OS, and it’s nearly impossible to build a low end PC with anything Microsoft.”

The bigger question is whether the low-end PC market is interesting, yagu added.

“We are now watching the market forces play out the answer to that question,” he explained. “The short answer is, ‘yes, Linux will overtake the low end PC market.’ The long answer is, ‘but it may not be that big of a market.'”

Not Ready for Prime Time?

Linux has achieved great success so far in the enterprise and the data center, and usage will certainly increase on the desktop, but that transition requires a change in people’s computing habits, Raven Zachary, senior analyst and open source practice head with the 451 Group, told LinuxInsider.

The operating system has largely caught up with Mac and Windows in terms of the user experience; now it’s a matter of changing behavior, which doesn’t happen quickly, he added.

“I’m highly skeptical that Linux on the desktop will happen anytime soon,” Zachary concluded. “It’s going to take a long time before my mom prefers Linux over Windows or the Mac.”

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