Invisible Linux

Invisible Linux

Summary: Who cares whether Linux is visible or invisible, so long as it's there?

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To Jim Zemlin you need no longer care about your operating system.

You don't buy an operating system. You buy a gadget that runs a program. The gadget and its software are one unit.

I call this Invisible Linux.

Once again, the channel has been lost to Windows. Efforts to use Taiwanese OEMS and their tiny netbooks to create real competition for Windows at retail have been lost.

But Jim Zemlin is not deterred. Nor should Linux advocates. Because what he is suggesting has a certain logic to it.

This is the pitch he gave at CompuTex. Use Linux in your gadget, show only the application, and capture the extra margin.

I have seen people on this trip sporting the new HTC Mobile phone, a Google Android phone made in Taiwan, so the message is getting through. You don't need to know if your GPS system is running Linux, or your phone, or any other embedded device performing a set of defined tasks.

At the same time you don't need to know that Google runs Linux, that most top Web sites run Apache servers under Linux, or that your office may be running Linux right now, while what looks like your Windows desktop is actually a virtualizer.

Bill Gates' heirs have done a masterful job pushing Windows up and down the channel. But tomorrow's products may not use that channel. They may not need it.

Who cares whether Linux is visible or invisible, so long as it's there? Do you? [poll id="103"]

Topics: Operating Systems, Linux, Open Source, Software

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92 comments
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  • Linux on the mobile "desktop"

    Many/most of the major smartphone/mobile OSes are based on Linix: Android, WebOS, LiMo, Moblin, Maemo, Ubuntu, .... The iPhone OS is based on FreeBSD, a cousin of Linux.

    Thus, Linux/*nix is already entering the "desktop" of the average user, through the use of mobile devices. And, as users migrate more & more of their daily tasks to their mobile devices (email, messaging, web surfing, multi-media playback, games, etc.), they are essentially moving more & more of their daily computing to Linux/*nix.
    linuser
    • A different channel

      This particular "mobile" channel is not controlled by
      MS, it is controlled by the tel cos. And these tel cos
      do not want to be dictated to by MS the way that PC
      manufacturers are. They want to control their own
      destiny. In fact the invisible or re-brand-able OS just
      suits them fine.
      bigpicture
    • Wack-Wack Oops!!



      Most of the big name smart phones, and certainly the best ones run on Symbian!
      zdnet@...
  • I voted yes.

    Linux visibility counters the Redmond noise.
    fr0thy2
    • Monkeys make a lot of noise, sometimes they even throw chairs

      but I really don't care what they do, what matters to me is knowing that Linux is helping people free themselves from the hands of convicted monopolists.

      Recognition is important but not as important as stopping the forces of evil.
      InAction Man
      • Forces of EVIL?

        Too many Star Wars movies, I think.

        Microsoft is just a company that you (and anyone
        else) can just say NO to. Stop this dribble and
        move on.
        robhill
        • Yeah, it's not like MS threatened competition

          "Microsoft is just a company that you (and anyone
          else) can just say NO to. Stop this dribble and
          move on. "

          or anything like that. Would be bad, for example, if they threatened
          OEMs carrying competitor products or withheld products to punish
          those supporting alternative middleware. It would be inconceivable
          that they would threaten to pull a profitable product for an alternative
          OS if that OS different agree to drop competing technologies. Similarly
          it would be unimaginable that MS would change their authentication
          process to cripple a competitors products and then refuse to give
          them technical details to make their solutions compatible again. Or
          that if asked by a jurisdiction to provided technical information for
          interoperability they would take years and then deliberately provide
          inaccurate/incomplete info.

          Just say NO and move on;-)

          And regarding Linux recognition, it's important to the ignorant MSCE
          poster on ZDNet that are in denial of alternative OSes an their capabilities.
          Richard Flude
          • eating too much oatmeal

            ooooooooh, somebody got you mad huh and now you will try to punish them by calling them ignorant. Yeah, that is real adult. lol
            gary859
          • ignorance is the most common human state

            saying so, is just admitting the truth.
            jorjitop
          • Linux as a general purpose consumer OS sucks.

            But for dedicated/limited-purpose gadgets and devices, it's a great platform.

            As Jordan Smith, Marketing Manager at Xandros openly states (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/03/xandros_custom_linux/): "Users don't care about Linux."

            He goes on to point out that "Doing that general purpose operating system is a nightmare, and you lose your shirt on it".

            Building an OS the supports a gazillion users on a bazillion different hardware platforms and devices in hundreds of different languages, complying with the legal and cultural differences of various regions of this planet is costly and time consuming.

            Whilst Linux has any number of technical contributors, there are relatively few who are willing to dedicate the enormous amount of time required to polish a distro to the level require to REALLY compete with Windows.

            Whilst Linux does, and always will, have it's enthusiastic following, don't mistake that with the assumption that it's a general purpose OS for the masses.
            de-void-21165590650301806002836337787023
          • Yes, Linux sucks.

            <div style="width:214px;height:320px;background:url(&#104;ttp://ninjitisu.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/linux_windows.jpg) -48px -28px;float:left">.</div>

            &#160;It sucks more than anything<br/>&#160;that's ever sucked before.

            <div style="clear:both">It sucks, it sucks, it sucks!</div>
            InAction Man
          • LOOOL.

            nt :)
            nizuse
          • Nice bit of selected quoting

            Smith stresses the importance of the user experience not the label.
            And he is right.

            "Whilst Linux has any number of technical contributors, there are
            relatively few who are willing to dedicate the enormous amount of
            time required to polish a distro to the level require to REALLY compete
            with Windows."

            How many does it need: Red Hat, Novell, Canonical, etc.

            "Whilst Linux does, and always will, have it's enthusiastic following,
            don't mistake that with the assumption that it's a general purpose OS
            for the masses."

            And why not? Put up!
            Richard Flude
          • Not completely true (that Linux sux).

            I fix PCs. When a customer has a dead system I leave behind an old P3 notebook with Ubuntu (Firefox and Open Office). I show them how to use it and they're mainly okay with it.

            But if they request Linux as their replacement OS I advice them against it - it won't really save them much as there will be things they cannot connect to or applications they wish to install and use (besides the critical ones like Internet access and Office type files), and I'm not inexpensive (as they'll need me to sit and customize each and every Linux compatibility solution).

            But there ARE a lot of people for whom a PC is just webmail and Internet access, for which Linux *is* a workable option- don't knock it.


            skris88@...
          • Case in Point...

            I have a friend who knows nothing about computers. All she wants to do is to browse the web, write some documents, and listen to old time radio on the web.

            She doesn't have the room or finances for a desktop, so I gave her an old P III with Puppy Linux on it. It's fast, does everything that she wants to do, and didn't cost her a dime.

            It runs on the old HDD, which I thought would fail when I gave it to her, OVER A YEAR AGO.
            Not one complaint, or problem.

            Nope Linux doesn't suck, Windows blows!
            Roc Riz
          • Oh, but of course

            Could have, May have, What if...

            to borrow a phrase from [i]robhill[/i]

            "Stop this dribble and move on"

            GuidingLight
        • Hear no Evil, see no evil, monkey.

          You would have to be totally out of touch or stupid
          not to see that MS has had more charges and
          convictions for devious dealings than any other
          company in history. Yet they and their minions are
          in denial, "we do no wrong", "our behavior is only in
          the customers best interests". 'We compete in the
          market place on a best product basis only". IS this
          FUD or is it pure DRIBBLE?
          bigpicture
        • Not really....

          ...try to say NO to DVDs, and you find yourself ostracized... try to say NO to AA batteries and see where you can find a remote that works without them....

          We need standards, but also we need to get free from the monopoly... that is we need the railroads, but not the 'robber barons'...

          The Internet is akin to the freeway... it essentially is not a competition to the rail but a different beast for a different time...
          Netbooks with XP are the first Steam Cars... and Google's Chrome OS might as well be the Model T.
          cosuna
      • Convicted monopolist and conviceted murderers, too!

        http://www.linux.org/news/2008/05/01/0001.html
        GuidingLight
    • I voted yes-different reason

      I voted yes, because if the "invisable" breaks, trouble-shooting, repair, sources for patches, and of course, crash prevention is harder due to not knowing how vulnerable your "invisable" is because you can't identify the invisable.
      olddogv