Could Linux 3.11 for Workgroups win the Desktop for Linux? Okay, probably not, but it's a good pun.

Subject: General Tech, Systems | July 17, 2013 - 12:58 AM |
Tagged: linux, Windows 3.11

Remember the time where Microsoft would only succeed on their third attempt? Did you ever wonder where Microsoft lost their way, instead stuck with some semi-regular sequence of alternating good and terrible? I cannot tell you at what point we lost the magical third version, it left unannounced about a decade ago, but Windows 3 will be its earliest popular example. Windows 3.11 for Workgroups eclipsed the then dominant Apple and helped put a computer in every office.

View Full Size

Image, Linux Foundation via The H Open.

Even Linus Torvalds, the creator and lead maintainer of the Linux Kernel, referred to the notoriety of Windows 3.11 with Linux heading toward 3.11. That version of Linux is now developed under the codename, "Linux for Workgroups". Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux, can be seen waving a retro-fashioned Windows flag. Perhaps in a few decades when they reach version 6, Tux can learn to play the tuba... or some other type of... long... horn.

A little luck is what Linux requires to become adopted by the home PC market. Unlike Windows 3, Linux has been a great operating system for decades. The real problem with Linux is branding, many equate the OS with command-line inputs, or believe that it does not welcome proprietary software into its open gates. Clearly, both statements are untrue: Linux is the foundation for Android and many other popular graphical UIs, and one can easily be against selling a software's right to exist without being against selling the software itself. Otherwise, very few critiques can be justified against Linux.

Readers: What is your favorite "wait for version 3" example, with or without Microsoft?

Source: The H Open
July 17, 2013 | 05:21 AM - Posted by windwalker

Cut the editorializing, dude. You're so off in the weeds it's not even funny.

Microsoft and their products have always been mediocre and people put up with them because before Google and Apple 2.0 that's where the bar was.
Linux is never going to amount to anything in the consumer space because it's just a cheap clone of ancient ideas by hackers on an ego trip.
It takes professionals like Google (and maybe Canonical and Valve, we'll see) to build something usable for non basement dwellers. And without Linux they could have used FreeBSD or any other free Unix flavour.

The kernel is plumbing. It's important, but it's just a small part.

July 17, 2013 | 06:56 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Professionals like Google dumped their proprietary Linux Distro and when with Linux Debian Wheezy, and Googls folks are not your average basement dwellers! The one good thing about Linux is that everyone, Business and basement dwellers, can and do contribute to the code base, and with Linux users they are not forced to accept any of the M$ infamous mediocrity! Linux users are free to install, or not, any code that the Linux user deems mediocre, as well as any UI or other Linux component! Yes FreeBSD is also out there, and good for it, the more choice the better! It would be better to just think of Linux or GNU as an industry standard OS kernel, with Industry standard GNU software tools that everyone from HPC, academics, Business, to basement mole, utilizes to meet their computing needs, sans The Big Ugly Monkey from Redmond's influence, or smelly effluence!

July 17, 2013 | 10:31 AM - Posted by someuid (not verified)

"it's just a cheap clone of ancient ideas by hackers on an ego trip."

Haha. You have no idea what you are talking about. Ancient ideas. Microsoft is the biggest pusher of ancient ideas. Active Directy is still a flat directory name space, a carry-over from their LANMAN days. This is something other directory services have not been hobbled by since, oh, the 70's and 80's.

The only thing Linux is missing is marketing friendly names, stupid-sipmle office compatability and AAA games.

The office compatability is falling to the way-side for home users, and the AAA games are starting to make some headway.

Someone needs to hire a brand-naming company and come up with some nicer names for Linux related stuff. Ubuntu sounds like an African country. KDE sounds like a Country music band.

July 17, 2013 | 10:40 AM - Posted by pdjblum

You are an crApple fanboy on techreport and one of the many crApple fanatics that now dominate techreport comments. I no longer visit that site, except for the rare article pointed to by this site, because of crApple fanatics such as yourself. It is hard to take a fanatics comments seriously.

July 17, 2013 | 12:50 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

In the past MS products have been reliable and effective answers to the needs of both business and individuals.

I'm not sure that Win 8 is going where business wants to go but that isn't the even the main issue any more.

Large and small companies and governments all over the planet that have been using MS products now know that MS and the NSA are simpatico.

They know that guys like Snowden have had access to their data some of whom may have sold it used the information to make money or blackmail people.

Many are going to decide this is not acceptable and start doing something about it and one option for closing holes is Linux.

What they know beyond all doubt is that they can't trust MS to protect the confidentiality of the confidential and privileged information.

July 17, 2013 | 08:44 AM - Posted by Robert512351 (not verified)

I've read china is going to be pushing Linux as the primary OS, given how large that market is it might have an impact on global adoption as well.

July 17, 2013 | 12:52 PM - Posted by deowll (not verified)

What you can count on is that China doesn't trust MS not to stick holes in the software that the NSA can use and that is a lot of motivation to use something else.

July 17, 2013 | 02:47 PM - Posted by joncr (not verified)

The kernel has nothing at all to do with whether more people will use a Linux desktop.

Whether or not Linux has been a "great" OS for "decades" (it hasn't, and it's been around for approximately two decades), people will not endure the hassle and risk of leaving Windows just because some random geeks tell them Linux is a better operating system. They don't know what that means, nor do they care to find out. People do not buy a car because it has a better drivetrain. They buy a car because they like the price, the way it looks, if all the kids fit, and if the seats are comfortable.

Linux enthusiasts, and that includes me, need to understand why Windows users who are perfectly free to adopt Linux do not before they have a chance of convincing them to switch.

July 18, 2013 | 09:35 AM - Posted by David (not verified)

Reasons to switch that will get a Windows user's attention (although probably not enough to convince them to actually switch):

  • Reliability; this, of course, is the big one in reality, but is pretty "minor" in the eyes of most Windows users, who seem to figure that rebooting once or twice a day is just "normal."
  • Virus free; ok, I know this isn't really true, technically, but let's face it, compared to Windows (or even Mac) the incidence of viruses on Linux is nearly zero. Consider, the majority of "anti-virus" programs on Linux actually check for Windows viruses.
  • Performance; big concern for the hard-core gamer crowd, and probably the main reason Linux will end up getting any serious traction in the mainstream desktop space.

Now, the reasons I've used that have actually gotten Windows users to sit up and listen:

  • Software management; every Windows user I've ever known that (finally) gets a handle on package management thinks it's the greatest thing ever. Granted, it's a (very) hard sell, since it's so fundamentally foreign, but the benefit most users have been thrilled with is the fact that we don't have dozens of "update managers" running in the background constantly interrupting us.
  • Hardware "just works"; ok, I know this isn't necessarily true but I've lost count of the number of Windows users who love this, at least until they hit that piece of hardware that doesn't "just work." Sigh. At least it's improving.
  • Cost; this one's interesting. It's enough to get them to pay attention, but then they start worrying whether it's "good enough." And, sad to say, a lot of users I've talked to end up not switching because they just don't get the value proposition.

Conversely, here are the things I've seen that scare Windows users:

  • Fragmentation; "How many versions of Linux are there? Why?." My recommendation: don't bring it up; pick one of the desktop-friendly ones (preferably one you are very familiar with) and stick with it. Once they've actually been using it for a while and have begun to understand the value, then it's worth getting into the diversity.
  • Support; this one's tough as there are very few "professional" support options that don't cost a small--or, for that matter, large--fortune. Most Windows users aren't used to having to work it out for themselves but also have a hard time appreciating that this is one of the drawbacks of "not paying."
  • Games; sorry, let's be honest, this is the main reason most Windows users use Windows. Until playing games is every bit as easy as it is on Windows (and this includes using frameworks like Wine), they just won't switch. With a little luck, the performance perk of Linux will help address that, at least, but we'll see.
July 17, 2013 | 04:07 PM - Posted by collie (not verified)

Great article scott, and its started a nice little argument, but you made a error in the opening. Maybe you are to young, but microsoft's "Third time luck" didn't start with windows. It was dos. Dos 1 was a nifty thing to play around with but useless and unstable, I've never even seen dos 2, and I don't know anyone who has, but dos 3, (3.30 actually) was their first big stable USEFUL os.

80286 old school possy bitches!!

July 17, 2013 | 04:14 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Heh, I actually owned an 80286 with DOSSHELL. Also, I believe Office 3 came out before Windows 3 although that was a mish-mash of randomly versioned applications. Tried to ignore the older stuff by saying "first popular".

Really it was just to segue into talks about Windows 3... you caught me. Lol.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <blockquote><p><br>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.