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End of Win 98 Support May Boost Desktop Linux 581

An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft kills off support for Windows 98 and Windows ME today, and ZDNet is reporting that the move will boost demand for Linux on the desktop. Unlike two years ago — when support for Win98 was extended because Linux was seen as a serious competitor — this time it seems there is no turning back."
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End of Win 98 Support May Boost Desktop Linux

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  • Seems unlikely (Score:4, Informative)

    by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <rich@ann[ ] ['exi' in gap]> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:46AM (#15696881) Homepage
    The BBC was having a "Have Your Say" discussion [] about this, and no one was talking about Linux at all. The closest it got to talking about alternatives was someone sarcasticly saying they should go back to Windows 3.1 ... It seems that even giving away free Ubuntu CDs containing such a great OS isn't enough to get through to the general population.


    (PS. That discussion link just stopped working, but I expect it'll be back up shortly).

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:50AM (#15696901)
    No kidding. Joe Average doesn't know about Linux. He knows about Apple and Macs, which are "different PCs", because they advertise everywhere. If the end of support for Win98 will boost *anything* it's the purchases of Macs. But I think that most people will stick to regular PCs when they need a replacement for their dead machine.
  • Re:Shame (Score:4, Informative)

    by Richard W.M. Jones ( 591125 ) <rich@ann[ ] ['exi' in gap]> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @07:51AM (#15696906) Homepage

    Shame then that Linux on the desktop is still effectively a hardware support crapshoot.

    Actually it supports ancient hardware like that quite well, because people have had plenty of time to reverse engineer the hardware and debug device drivers. Even old winmodems are doing quite well [].


  • Re:Fairly Obvious (Score:3, Informative)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:02AM (#15696960) Homepage
    I think most companies that still run 98/ME machines have to do so because the specific application they depend upon will not run on newer versions of the operating system, let alone entirely different operating systems.

    Besides; don't fix it if it ain't broken.
  • Re:Unlikely (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:04AM (#15696969) Homepage
    seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine [], but the mainstream Linux distros are too bloaty to even install: the Ubuntu and Fedora installers literally hang, and SUSE and Mandriva are too slow even on my other machine in the +2GHz range.

    that is the biggest pile of FUD I have ever heard. I am running Ubuntu on machines ranging from P-III Celeron 700 to AMD 3000+ with 128-512 meg of ram. it ALWAYS runs faster than XP hands down. Finally Mandriva also works well on those machines, although mandriva still has the bug that you need to reboot after the first login to get rid of an installer service that sit's in the background eating cycles. Just like XPMCE 2005 does right now on new installs. (BTW, you want to try a dog? XP tablet edition with SP2 installed is incredibly slow on a P-III 866.)

    Ubuntu live-install CD is broken for most hardware It hates legacy Nvidia video cards, the alternative install CD works on everything perfectly. It even worked on a high end workstation I was messing with that XP refused to install on because of the SCSI raid card, linux was happy with it.

  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Informative)

    by SomeoneGotMyNick ( 200685 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:14AM (#15697020) Journal
    You might want to try [] on that machine if it's only really used for surfing and e-mail. I have a few P166 and P400 laptops running it now and it works great. Quite peppy on those machines. It's designed to be a "Live CD" so you can test it out. If you like it, it can be installed on a computer from the same disk.

    Now if your Dad's GF's Daughter (we call them Great Aunts here) doesn't like the word "damn" in the name, then that may be a problem. But I'm sure she said that word many times while dealing with the viruses.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Informative)

    by doti ( 966971 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:21AM (#15697049) Homepage
    Or just install ubuntu without a bloated desktop environment.
    There are plenty of good options around, some are even end-user friendly.
  • Re:not really. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:21AM (#15697052) Journal
    One of our customers has a policy that Norton must be installed on every machine (whole other story as to why there is no corporate version...) and now NAV will no longer offer a 12 month subscription to NAV 2002 (the version they all had installed).
    I cannot obtain NAV 2003-2005 simply and am forced to "upgrade" to the 2005 shitpile, however oh lookie here (after purchasing and downloading...) it cannot run on 98.

    Why the hell are you using consumer software on corporate machines? Switch them to Symantec Antivirus. You can downgrade SAV 10 licenses to SAV 9 for Win98 machines just by asking.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:23AM (#15697062) Homepage
    Well, XUbuntu (a new xfce desktop for Ubuntu) should solve the problem of high processor needs, but RAM is still a worry for getting a legacy box into Linux world. XUbuntu still needs 128 megs just to install using the default (n00b-friendly) installer. A lot of these old win98 boxes have only 32 or 64 megs of RAM in them. Yes, old PC100 ram is cheap on eBay, but that's a substantial difference from just downloading and running a piece of software.

  • Re:Unlikely (Score:2, Informative)

    by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:25AM (#15697070) Journal
    Why the assumption that everyone who prefers Windows is an astroturfer?

    Believe it or not, Microsoft does have some genuine grassroots support -- for their software, not for their abusive monopoly. Love Windows, hate the uncompetitive practices. It's no harder than being pro-American but anti-Bush.
  • tough call (Score:3, Informative)

    by spykemail ( 983593 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @08:48AM (#15697181) Homepage
    This is a tough call. Who still uses Windows 98 or ME? Most likely PC users with very old boxes. While that screams Linux to people like me, the kind of people with such boxes probably don't know what Linux is.

    More than likely this will be a boost for cheap Dell and HP sales, if anything. That's assuming the people using them know or care that Microsoft no longer supports their OS. They'll probably just keep their boxes going until something breaks, this will just help speed things up.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nimey ( 114278 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:32AM (#15697399) Homepage Journal
    Get yourself a lightweight Linux distro, of which many exist. Another alternative is to do a base install of Debian, then 'apt-get install icewm' or another lightweight window manager. Many smaller apps for different tasks exist, like Abiword and Gnumeric for office tasks and mutt for email. For web browsing, there's Opera, Epiphany, Galeon, or ELinks.

    You could always get a circa-1998 Linux distribution, but I wouldn't recommend that. :-)
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:5, Informative)

    by g2devi ( 898503 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:40AM (#15697455)
    I ran Linux in a much more constrained environment back in 1993 (4MB RAM with ample swap, 40MB Disk, 386, laptop) and it ran at a decent speed with a decent set of applications (yes, even back then).

    I'd be *really* surprised if Linux today couldn't fit in your environment. But you'll likely have to forget KDE/GNOME. They're *nice* but not necessary. My old system used FVWM which is still perfectly capable (I was used it last year on Solaris -- there's even a Win95-like config), although now there are slicker alternatives like XFCE and IceWM which are also available and better supported by default on many distros.

    Here are a few alternatives to consider which are more targetted to your needs. You might want to them all out and see which one you like best: [] d=1 [] [] []
  • Re:Cost of Training (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wylfing ( 144940 ) <brian&wylfing,net> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @09:53AM (#15697543) Homepage Journal

    If YOU were that small business owner, with 10-15 employees and 10 older '98 machines, which do you think is more likely?

    I am a small business owner.

    Any small business owner interesting in remaining in business will take a hard look at all three of those alternatives. First of all, you need to pay the IT guy no matter what, so the IT personnel costs (and employee downtime costs) among options 1 and 2 and 3 are identical. And realistically the cost of obtaining 15 new desktop computers is not $500 each. Factor in the niggling upgrades, taxes, shipping, and support -- it's more like $1000/ea for those $500 machines. For most small businesses an expense of $15K is not something you take lightly. It sure isn't small potatoes for mine, and we haven't even talked about the software licenses yet for 98-vintage software that cannot be installed properly on XP.

    The title of your post is "Cost of Training," which is also something that's identical among options 1 and 2 and 3. For every Windows 98 machine replaced by anything else there will be retraining costs of X. It's not 2X just because it's Linux.

  • Not FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @10:46AM (#15697988)
    seriously, my PIII laptop has 'Designed for Windows 98' on it, and can run Windows 2000 and Windows XP just fine [], but the mainstream Linux distros are too bloaty to even install: the Ubuntu and Fedora installers literally hang, and SUSE and Mandriva are too slow even on my other machine in the +2GHz range.


    that is the biggest pile of FUD I have ever heard.

    I've had the same experience as the OP and I can tell you it's not FUD. On the glowing recommendations of the Slashdot crowd, I ordered the free Ubuntu CD which arrived last week. I planned to install it on my 'Designed for Win 98' laptop (a 1GHz P3 IBM Thinkpad). I stuck the CD in, rebooted, chose 'install' from the boot manager, and that's about as far as it got. I'm sure there's some command-line mojo that could have got it to install, but that's exactly the reason Linux is not 'ready for the desktop'. I'm not a Microsoft zealot by any means and was willing to give Ubuntu a try, but now that's another missed opertunity for Linux adoption. Anyone got a link for Win2K install CD?

  • Re:HAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH (Score:3, Informative)

    by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @11:23AM (#15698286) Homepage
    A good number of my local LUG members are "IT guys" that support multiple small businesses in the manner described above. Being in the business requires supporting Windows, but has nothing to do with liking it. And even something close to "Scenario 1" has come up occasionally. For example, an optometrist had an outdated install of SuSE on his desktop. Unfortunately, I can't give you any information on how many of their clients find Linux acceptable for their needs. Especially with medium sized businesses, there are often software and networks that run only on Windows and are essentially required to maintain their business partners.
  • Re:Yeah sure... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kimvette ( 919543 ) on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:52PM (#15699057) Homepage Journal
    Not necessarily. You may not be aware (I wasn't until a few months ago) that Dells are so cheap because the consumer lines come bundled with spyware, er, "adware" so you're not really paying the entire cost of the machine and hardware. Until I heard that from a (now former) Dell reseller, I was bewildered as to how they can offer their hardware so damn cheap, even with all of the volume discounts they get from the manufacturers. Yeah, they spec out CHEAP motherboards, but they still won't get much below $40 for a board with all peripherals embedded, customized with proprietary sockets for their front-panel doodads, even with vast quantity orders, and Intel certainly is not going to take a loss on such a vast quantity of CPUs.
  • Re:HAHAAHAHAHAHAHAH (Score:3, Informative)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) * <> on Tuesday July 11, 2006 @12:53PM (#15699061) Homepage Journal

    So, you *really* believe that an IT (from the real world, not your imaginary Sylvania) guy will prefer to install and mantain Linux based operating system Desktops against Windows OS desktops?.

    Absolutely. I not only believe it, I've seen it happen.

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