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Linux Desktop Summit 2004 Review 190

Posted by timothy
from the slow-and-semi-steady dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I had the experience this week of attending the Linux Desktop Summit hosted by Michael Robertson's Linspire, Lindows, or whatever you want to call it these days. Irregardless of what you call it, it's Linux, and the general consensus from vendors and attendees was, "We're here to stay." I have to say that this was an interesting convention. Keeping in line with the Linux community, there was more of a sense of community rather than the typical "Choose our product" ambiance, With a few exceptions of course."
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Linux Desktop Summit 2004 Review

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  • by rogabean (741411) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:48PM (#8991830)
    How many times was "Year Linux Takes The Desktop" was said at the summit? ;)~
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:48PM (#8991832)
    Irregardless of what you call it

    So I must call it Linspire then?
    • by TedCheshireAcad (311748) <.ted. .at. .fc.rit.edu.> on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @09:52PM (#8992304) Homepage
      Irregardless is not a word. Where are you, spelling nazis? Troll the article!
      • Re:Creative english (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @10:04PM (#8992392)
        Actually it IS a word.

        from m-w [m-w.com] online:
        "Main Entry: irregardless
        Pronunciation: "ir-i-'gärd-l&s
        Function: adverb
        Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
        nonstandard : REGARDLESS
        usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead."

        • It's just a matter of time before all wrong words spoken by uneducated people get added to different dictionaries. Sooner or later, we will find "diffnatley" and "defiantly" as synonyms for 'definitely' (nevermind that 'defiantly' is an actual word with very different meaning), along with 200 other misspellings, and "I of saw" as a modern version of present perfect phrase "I have seen".

          Put it in as many dictionaries as you will, but "irregardless" is wrong. It is a word, but it's a word used by illiterate
      • I think you just did, but most people just modded you funny instead of noticing that irregardless is, in fact, a word. :-)
      • Although it is a real word, its meaning is unclear, so we should all strive to stop using it.

        We should be irregardless-less.
        We must not exhibit irregardless-ness.

        We must be irregardless-less-ness-less.

        (Kudos to Rowan Atkinson for this one).
  • it IS here to stay (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chuck Bucket (142633) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:49PM (#8991849) Homepage Journal
    every year is called 'the year of th elinux desktop', but every year little progress SEEMS to be made. the fact is, Linux IS still around, and will be for a long time. it's acceptance on the desktop will rise as younger folks come into the workplace. think about it, more college students use/understand linux and open source, so yeah, I'm bullish on the future of Linux on the Desktop.

    Plus, with WMs like XFCE4 and desktops like Gnome2.6 and KDE 3.2, you can tell that the technology is already there for 90% of what you need on the desktop.

    VDS
    • by name773 (696972)
      WMs like XFCE4 and desktops like Gnome2.6 and KDE 3.2
      and ratpoison [sf.net] is pretty good for a lightweight wm. seing a highres terminal at full screen... drool. oh and konqueror on full screen... that's amazing.

      p.s. i found out about ratpoison [sf.net] via a /. post

      • Ratpoison rocks. I used ion for a couple of years, thinking it was great, but last year I switched to ratpoison, and I'll never go back. I *like* having a window manager I can only interact with via keystrokes.

        Of course, it helps to have dual monitors...
      • An error occurred while loading http://ratpoison.sf.net/:

        Unknown host ratpoison.sf.net

        where are they now??? try here!!! [sourceforge.net] but their homepage [sourceforge.net] is borked...

  • Swag has returned? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:50PM (#8991861) Homepage Journal
    I've been to several conferences in the past few years and have noticed a huge reduction in the amount and quality of conference swag. In the heydays of 1998 and 1999, you could come away with enough clothes to last you all year without washing (about 5 or 6 t-shirts), but nowadays you'd practically have to kill some booth babe to score a pen or mousepad.

    This guy says Novell is giving away t-shirts again? Does this foreshadow a return to the heady days of the dotcom boom? Buy tech stocks, folks, it looks like we've got ourselves an upswing in the making!

    • YES, Novell gave out a SuSE/Novell/Ximian shirt.

      I also left with a Real Helix shirt
      A PC Club shirt
      And the Desktop Linux Conference shirt

      If you were lucky, you got one of the shirts the mozilla guy raffled out. (I saw him just *give* one to Nat Friedman, but thats ok) I was lucky to grab a nice CD 'n' sleeve of mozilla goodness.

      Seagate gave out the trippiest pen I've ever seen.

      DeviantArt gave out nice stickers.

      Sun gave out CDs of StarOffice and the Java Desktop

      Some random mousepads.

      PC Club gave out a
    • I'd be surprised if this was happening with Linux OS companies though. If you catch something like Oprah's Christmas show where she gives out cell phones, gourmet food, homewares and the like, all for free, you'll realise that it's because she's marketing it to affluent women with not only money to burn, but an interest in burning it.

      Why would a company give away t-shirts and gadgets to a crowd of guys (income judgements aside) who are interested in a product that is essentially free?

      For the most part, th
    • by bonch (38532)
      You're declaring an economic upswing of dot-coms because Novell is giving away free t-shirts?
    • by njdj (458173) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @02:00AM (#8993780)
      you could come away with enough clothes to last you all year without washing (about 5 or 6 t-shirts)

      6 t-shirts last a year without washing ...? I think you've just done more to turn people away from Linux than SCO, Rob Enderle and Laura DiDio combined.

  • by phoxix (161744) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:53PM (#8991888)
    Slightly OT, but I can't resist ...

    There is no denying it. Mandrake is a lovely 100% GPL user-friendly distro, that seems to be rather popular ... (they have a GUI front-end for everything, CUPS, Samba, even VPN!!) It probably beats the crap ot Linspire anyday of the week.

    But even without knowing much about this meeting, I'm pretty sure that Mandrakesoft wasn't there. Why? because Mandrakesoft does a crappy job of MARKETING. And its getting really annoying too watching crap distros like Linspire get so much spot-light.

    Like I said ... this rant was OT and morely for my fellow Mandrake users ...

    Sunny Dubey
    • Someone was there. They didn't have any decorations or such. I didn't even talk to the guy. Then again, Sun didn't really make an effort to have a booth either. In fact, they weren't there at all the first day.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'll deny it.

      I found Mandrake 9.2 to be fairly buggy and easy to confuse. Try changing to/from GMT in the hwclock sometime. Try calling your optical disks something other than CDROM0, CDROM1, CDROM2, etc. sometime. Try running their framebuffered version of VNC sometime and explain why it runs 10x slower than vanilla VNC?

      I'm just an AC, so don't listen to me, but Mandrake shouldn't market themselves until they get a distribution that has more than skin-deep beauty.
    • well, they're french, so maybe they only market their product in france?
    • There was a Mandrake guy there in a 10x10 booth with a tiny sign. He pretty much introduced himself as "one of the two guys left standing in the United States" after the layoff bloodbath and would mention the Mandrake bankruptcy and trademark lawsuit in the first couple of sentences when discussing the company.

      I use Mandrake 9 myself, and I'm no marketing genius, but I have to say this was not exactly the best way to build any confidence in the future of the distribution.

  • Lexmark printers (Score:1, Interesting)

    by xmorg (718633)
    the article was kinda lacking in the way of telling us if the particular printer being raffled could print on a *nix! I would be downright hilarius/evil if it was XP only.
    • Lexmark has been historically very good about providing Linux drivers for their printers. Visit their site and you'll see that they proudly announce it.
      If you take their proprietary driver and foomatic it, you can even use the stuff under Cups!
      • I wish they'd throw in support more that just a few of their "Z" printers, though. I can't really understand why they don't at least put out some drivers for their Optra series.

        The "X" all-in-one series I can understand why there's no driver, but the Optras?

  • by SilentWatcher (563040) * on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:53PM (#8991897)
    Further on down my wanderings, I bumped into GarageGames.com. They have a kick-ass commercial game which looks a lot like Mech Warrior, and it runs nicely and natively under Linux. They also demo'd the classic Doom game which runs under Linspire's Click-And-Run installation.

    I was working for Garage Games at this conference.

    The large robot game is Dark Horizon's: Lore [darkhorizons-lore.com] and it will be released for linux in a few weeks. It is already available for windows and osx.

    We also showed Think Tanks [bravetree.com], Orbz [21-6.com], and Marble Blast [garagegames.com]. All of these are available for windows, mac and linux, from the Garage Games site [garagegames.com].

    We did NOT demo Doom. People were playing that because some of the machines didn't have good enough 3D acceleration (i.e. no nvidia cards) to run the other games.

    • We did NOT demo Doom. People were playing that because some of the machines didn't have good enough 3D acceleration (i.e. no nvidia cards) to run the other games.

      Are NVIDIA cards favored (over ATI) by Linux gamers because of better driver support? I have to admit that I am out of late on the latest on this front. Thanks.

  • by 222 (551054) <stormseeker AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @08:56PM (#8991922) Homepage
    that profitable companies using / pushing linux are essential for it to gather mainstream acceptance.
    I know it may leave a nasty taste in your mouth to witness the commercialization of linux, but really, its something we should not only get used to, but push.
    Im sorry, but the trailing sentance in the article posting made my inner penguin frown...
    • I know it may leave a nasty taste in your mouth to witness the commercialization of linux, but really, its something we should not only get used to, but push.

      Why?

      You say this as though it is self-evident. It isn't.
      • Well, i suppose that depends on what you feel GNU/Linux should do in this world. In my opinion, i see it as a robust, elegant and rapidly evolving OS that has such a seemingly unlimited potential usage that it eclipses the scope of not only my own knowlege, but the purpose of this comment.
        I know homogenous computing enviornments are "bad", but if it were up to me, everything would run linux.
        I'm not trying to sound like a zealot (apologies if i do) but as far as operating systems go, i find it absurd that
  • Converting Users (Score:4, Informative)

    by cloudless.net (629916) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @09:01PM (#8991954) Homepage
    "Their plan is simple. Give your Windows users applications which run on both Linux and Windows, teach them how to use them and when they are comfortable, replace the Operating System with Linux."

    In my experience it is not as simple as that. Most people have resistance for change. When they have got used to one operating system it is not easy to teach them to do things in a different way. And Linux is still behind Windows in terms of usability, which I think should be the first priority for future Linux development.

    • by tjwhaynes (114792) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @09:21PM (#8992117)

      In my experience it is not as simple as that. Most people have resistance for change. When they have got used to one operating system it is not easy to teach them to do things in a different way. And Linux is still behind Windows in terms of usability, which I think should be the first priority for future Linux development.

      Actually, I'd disagree on both points. Most people wouldn't notice if you swapped Windows XP and XPde on their machines until they realized that their desktop had been running for a couple of months without a virus attack bringing their system to its knees. A developer would notice almost immediately but I suspect that if you kept the menus similar enough, most people would just pick up and go.

      On useability, I'd say that GNOME was streets ahead of Windows for simplicity and usability (I don't use KDE so I can't compare there). Consistent look and feel across all HIGified GNOME apps, intelligent prompt buttons in prompt windows (and some serious gdesklet eyecandy :-) ) make it an easy system for a user to grasp. I find Windows XP to be a mess of animated icons and swooping flashing windows ruining my concentration in its default form, and I feel palpable relief when I get back to a Linux box with its calmer, faster and more comfortable setup.

      Usability is partly a function of what you are used to. But switching isn't nearly as tough as a lot of people seem to think (or fear).

      Cheers,

      Toby Haynes

      • But... (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ...I'm the archetypal IT Guy(tm) who moved to a rural area to escape PHBs. Naturally the work is nothing difficult, mostly Windoze donkey work for the locals, with the occasional slightly-more-demanding job for an energy company or whathaveyou tossed in now and then. And I agree with you that Linux would be a great alternative for most people who want to do nothing more with their PC than send an e-mail to their sister, or browse a few websites.

        Unfortunately there's one fly in that soup. Games! That's the

      • Re:Converting Users (Score:2, Informative)

        by westlake (615356)
        Most people wouldn't notice if you swapped Windows XP and XPde on their machines until they realized that their desktop had been running for a couple of months without a virus attack bringing their system to its knees.

        How strange. I have been using Windows at home since '95 and have yet to log a virus. The systems at work seem to keep ticking along as well.

      • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @11:47PM (#8993115)
        Actually, I'd disagree on both points. Most people wouldn't notice if you swapped Windows XP and XPde on their machines until they realized that their desktop had been running for a couple of months without a virus attack bringing their system to its knees.

        Yeah, until they went to Wal-mart, brought home a printer, and realized sticking in the Autoplay installer CD does nothing.

        Or they tried to install the latest Sims expansion.

        Or they wanted to fire up Yahoo Messenger, so they go to the website and download it, unable to install it and blaming it on Windows.

        Or they look for "My Documents" or "\Windows\System."

        Or...you get the idea. Hell, Linux doesn't even have a binary installation/uninstallation API for its desktops. I don't want to have to rely on GUI hacks like Synaptic or xterm "apt-get" solutions. Give me installer APIs! Why the hell is this being overlooked in favor of more sidebar buttons for KDE or redesigned file selector dialogs in GTK?
        • Why would an end user want an installer API?

          If people don't want choices companies are happy to take the choices away for them. Redhat, sun, linspire and to lesser extent suse all give the user a cohesive system with a pre-chosen set of software. The user does not ever have to think of what desktop or browser to use because there is one default one installed. They all also handle updating and installing transparently for the user. This is especially powerful with click n run where the user is presented wit
        • heh... your sig, "Current Linux desktops won't succeed because people DON'T WANT endless choices" is funny. You know there's a whole Linux desktop that understands that principle? It's called GNOME [gnome.org] - maybe you've heard of it? :-)

          As for installers, that's a breeze compared to building something like RPM, which is already done. Give it time - it'll come. For now, the consumer is not a primary target for Linux - limited application environments are, like call centers. The much drooled after Home Desktop
        • realized sticking in the Autoplay installer CD does nothing

          Probably not a big deal, since they already asked me to disable that god-awful autoplay feature

          so they go to the website and download it, unable to install it and blaming it on Windows

          You might want to tell them not to install Ford parts on the Mercedes as well.

      • Re:Converting Users (Score:4, Interesting)

        by TheRealSlimShady (253441) on Wednesday April 28, 2004 @12:38AM (#8993417)
        Most people wouldn't notice if you swapped Windows XP and XPde on their machines until they realized that their desktop had been running for a couple of months without a virus attack bringing their system to its knees.

        You know, this sort of rhetoric isn't really helpful to any debate about the merits of different operating systems. In a professionally managed environment, it's relatively simple to prevent viruses. This sort of statement is about the same as "GPL is a cancer"

        • "In a professionally managed environment, it's relatively simple to prevent viruses."

          The key words there in your statement are "professionally managed"... and judging by the evidence of my own spam/virus filtering and the hits on my firewall... the vast majority of home users and businesses out there using ms-windows are not professionally managed... and the default security settings of XP HE do not encourage it and there is very little mention in the little pamphlet that comes with a box these days of t

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I shudder involuntarily every time I come across that "word." Do us a favor and buy yourself a dictionary, preferably an old-school OED or something, and hit yourself over the head with it. Repeatedly.

    Mike
    • by 10Ghz (453478)
      That word always reminds me of a dialogue in The Parlor [chryslermdff.com], one of my favourite short-movies:

      Guy A: Irregardless, she's a twat!
      Buy B: "Irregardless" isn't even a word
      Guy A: Yes it is! It means "Without lack of regard"
      Guy B: I pity you
      Guy A: You do huh?
      Guy B: Yeah
      Guy A: Ooh, you're getting me all weepy!
      Woman: Don't cry Joe! Wanna hug?
  • For all the talk of new technology and pace of change, the real pace of change is incredibly bad. Conventional wisdom equates change with the constant appearance of new technologies. Real change is seen in technology that increase productivity at the commodity level. The desktop is the commodity and applications are a response to peoples need to process information. The integration between the two is pathetic Other than at a superficial level - quote whatever new schemes you like - there is no linking betw
    • For all the talk of new technology and pace of change, the real pace of change is incredibly bad. Conventional wisdom equates change with the constant appearance of new technologies. Real change is seen in technology that increase productivity at the commodity level. The desktop is the commodity and applications are a response to peoples need to process information. The integration between the two is pathetic Other than at a superficial level - quote whatever new schemes you like - there is no linking betwe
  • Irregardless (Score:1, Redundant)

    by operagost (62405)
    Irregardless
    So did this guy mean "irrespective" or "regardless"? Sorry, I'm just really sick of this one.
  • by Neo-Rio-101 (700494) on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @09:32PM (#8992183)
    If they want ideas to talk about instead of continuing to bleat that this year is the year of Linux on the desktop (It's not yet), I'll give them a few. * Better hardware support. I have some new motherboards which don't work under Linux because the ATI northbridge chips in them aren't detected. This is ATIs fault as much as Linux's - but it's slowing acceptance. We need more vendors writing drivers for Linux. * Better software installation, etc. The great thing about Linux is customisability. Thing is, it's a pain for most users, and is a pain for me even though I can use a command line. Something needs to be done about it. Something like an add/remove program tab to keep track of packages/source code. Standard libraries that all desktop linux should have. Better interfaces between this code and the desktop etc. Half the time you'll never know what's in your machine until you look, and THEN you have to know where it is, and what package it is, and what that package is for, and what depends on it etc.etc. In a perfect world, a newbie user should be able to compile a source coded package for a desktop distro with a single click, with seamless configure && make && make install.... as if it were an MSI install package.
    • If they really want something to discuss, they could spend some time talking about the the word "irregardless".
    • The path of Linux is the path of Google.

      I believe that Google's popularity as a search engine increased by way of word of mouth from cluey computer users (not necessarily geeks, but people that install their own hardware, muck around with applications and that sort of thing) who consistently received quality search results in a time when the previous kings (altavista, yahoo, etc) were starting to become bloated and returning rubbish.

      I know that many people I know now rely on Google without ever using anot
      • " The path of Linux is the path of Google."

        I think so, too. Linux is going to be hijacked by cheap commercial entities, because it's giving them something for free that they would have to pay for dearly otherwise. Linux on the desktop will essentially be marketed by cheap companies that do not want the hassle of a separate development department, Linspire being the perfect example.

        Did Linspire give anything back to the Open Source community? No, they're just profiting from free giveaways and laughing thei
    • by alienw (585907) <alienw...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday April 27, 2004 @10:50PM (#8992758)
      What distro are you using? My copy of Mandrake 10 comes with a shitload of precompiled packages and includes a nice graphical package app to manage and install them. Also, newbies should NEVER have to compile source code. That's what binaries are for. What we really do need is something like an extension of the LSB that would provide a standard binary API that is consistent across versions and distributions.
    • I have some new motherboards which don't work under Linux because the ATI northbridge chips in them aren't detected. This is ATIs fault as much as Linux's - but it's slowing acceptance.

      Slightly off topic, but when you go send a friendly note to ATI asking for Linux support, ask for Open Source software. Proprietary drivers aren't good enough.

      Your choice of operating system should not be based on what hardware you happen to have. A proliferation of binary-only drivers for Linux is going to stifle usage of
  • FTA: My first stop was Epson's free printer raffle... Interesting to see that they cared about Linux and driver support.

    Drivers are nice and all, but you still get an Epson printer. A printer that dries up the print heads in a few days and uses half a cartridge of ink cleaning itself, a printer that cleans itself even if it isn't 'dirty', a printer that uses multi-colour cartridges that need to be replaced when you run out of just one colour, a printer with chipped cartridges that can't be refilled withou

    • Are you trolling or just ill-informed?

      Epson Stylus C64/C84/R200/R300/R800 - all have one cartridge per colour.

      I've used many epson printers and IME it takes several weeks/months before they dry out.

      The chip is only for the printer to keep track of how much ink is left in the cartridge - it doesn't identify the cartridge as being genuine. The chip may not keep an accurate record of how much ink is left but that's a separate matter.
    • Yup!
      That's why I love my good ol Epson Color 400.
      It's older than the dinosaurs, but the thing still works great since it was made before printer companies started rolling out the Kodak marketing plan where you sell the device cheep and the necessities are a rip off.
  • I'm going to help a friend buy a new computer and install Linux on it. She doesn't have experience with Windows, so there won't be a change.

    However, I can't decide which distro is best. I'm not as concerned about usability, since the apps are where usability is the issue, and they'll be the same regardless of the distro. What I'm concerned about is not having to support it after it's running, ease of installation of new software (for a newbie), and the ability to have it automatically receive errata up

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