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  • What Linux is and why it has persisted

    Home Forums AskWoody blog What Linux is and why it has persisted

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      • #2335282
        Will Fastie
        Manager

        LINUX What Linux is and why it has persisted By Sandra Henry-Stocker When all your friends are using Windows and the desktops at work are all running
        [See the full post at: What Linux is and why it has persisted]

      • #2335292
        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks for this comprehensive and easy to read article that explains very well what Linux is and why it is used for so many  people to do so many different things with their computers.

        This is my favorite paragraph in the Newsletter article, because it explains the main reason I like to use Linux:

        It’s what they [the users] can do on the command line. When you open a terminal window on a Linux system – not completely unlike the window that appears when you open the command shell (cmd) or use PowerShell on Windows — you get access to thousands of commands that allow you to view and manipulate data.

        I should add that it also allows, among many other things, to install and use such valuable things as the GNU’s extensive library of compilers that, same as most things available at the tip of one’s fingers from the command line, that one is also for free.

        Linux also has also much in common with UNIX, FreeBSD and macOS, so many things developed for one of these OS often can be used with any of the others with minor or no modifications, as long as, when necessary, one has the source codes to compile and create the corresponding executables, because the binaries are different.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2336253
          anonymous
          Guest

          Thanks and, yes, the connection to Unix is very important.  Macintosh systems weren’t based on Unix until MacOS X.

      • #2335293
        erbkaiser
        AskWoody Plus

        Really missing a reference to GNU in this overview. Linux is just the kernel, most of what people consider to be ‘Linux’ is actually a form of the GNU Operating System which comes from the Free Software Movement.

        While not a really good comparison it would be like if you referred to MacOSX as Darwin or to Windows10 as ‘NT’.

        5 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2336255
          anonymous
          Guest

          I probably didn’t emphasize Linux as being just the kernel quite strongly enough. Thanks.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2335298
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        Something that has always eluded me is the economics of Linux, in particular, and open-source software in general.

        Aside from the odd exceptions, like Red Hat, which has figured how to get people to pay for otherwise free software, how do all the programmers who work on open-source software pay their bills – rent, utilities, food, ISP charges?   Some are, presumably, independently wealthy, but I imagine the great majority of them are not.  So, how do they provide for themselves and their families?

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2335307
          Alex5723
          AskWoody Plus
          • #2335315
            MHCLV941
            AskWoody Plus

            Thank you for the link.  It was very informative but writing open-source software,  unless your company pays you to do so, still sounds like a pretty sketchy way to keep milk in the fridge.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2335327
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              In my case, as well as that of quite a number of people I know, to be able to use Linux is implicitly needed for having and keeping some pretty decent and well-paid jobs, not necessarily as professional programmers, but as engineers and scientists that need some specialized software to do their work, but often find that nothing like it is available to be bought or borrowed.

              Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

              • #2335332
                anonymous
                Guest

                That makes perfect sense, but you don’t earn your living writing open-source software.  That’s the part I’m wondering about.

              • #2337708
                Ascaris
                AskWoody_MVP

                Some people do earn a living developing open-source software. Google has many paid developers working on the open source Chromium, Chromium OS, and AOSP, and they are all open source. Lennart Poettering created, and now leads development of the (somewhat controversial) systemd and PulseAudio projects, and he’s paid by Red Hat (IBM). Those are open source too. There are a lot of examples of this kind of thing in open source.

                Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

                • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by Ascaris.
            • #2335342
              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              Well yes, traditionally it was because these were heavily used in research programs and those required peer-review anyway, so the source code had to be available for review and reproducing the results… and research funding has been all kinds of weird anyway. (BSD and Minix – originally a Minix license was included with Tanenbaum’s textbook on operating systems)

              Then the free software movement got on that, and made it difficult to take open-for-review stuff back into the closed scheme. (This is where GNU comes in.)

              So, nowadays corporate-funded open-source coding often comes from the corporations’ tool budgets. As in they need this for something, so they pay someone (either an independent coder… or usually another company, like Red Hat) to write the code… and then it’s easier to make it keep working after system updates if it’s public code.

        • #2335349
          doriel
          AskWoody Lounger

          OS should provide boundaries, in which specialized apps are working. Then you can create SW for which you can charge money. OpenSource community earns money by SW developped for the OS. Unlike Windows, where there is one obvoius schism – Do they want to create OS or they want to create applications/SW? MSFT literally fights with other SW developpers (or buy their companies), so users will use MSFT software, instead of 3rd party SW (chrome/edge, Webex/Teams, Office/OpenOffice). Instead of being “healthy competitors environment”, Windows is MSFT playground with harsh rules for developpers.

          Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

          HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2335534
            anonymous
            Guest

            I’m on Linix Mint and am using Open Source software so that’s all coming without any up front costs unless I donate to my distro or the software maker’s project. But look at the Firefox Browser and they have their business model and it’s not very good but that’s what they have. Most of the Enterprise Distros have their Business Model for consulting services and whatnot but really Linux has persisted because it’s a reasonable option for folks who do not what to become so completely the end product of someone’s OS/Ecosystem and with a loss of end user control over their own PC/Laptop, and of course server, hardware.

            I was completely happy with Windows 7’s UI and MS had to go and play with that while Linux Mint’s UI is similar to Windows 7’s and better in a lot of ways that Windows never was. Linux is not perfect but that’s more because the laptop that I using it on has really only been tuned in its firmware for Windows mostly and there are a few issues there that are the fault of the laptop’s OEM and not the fault of Linux/The Linux Kernel.

            Linux has its usual hardware support issues that usually get remedied within 2 years of the newer hardware’s release but then that hardware is not abandoned so soon on Linux like it got with Windows after after 7 was replaced with Windows 8/later. But I’m mostly using only opensource software and do not have the need for any Proprietary software that’s not available on Linux. But all of my laptops are in a Windows 7/Linux Mint and one Windows 10/Linux Mint dual boot configuration. So I’m good for any Windows only legacy usage and spend the majority of my online time booted into Linux Mint, for security reasons for my 7(EOL)/Mint dual boot laptops as 7’s EOL and privacy reasons for my one 10/Mint dual boot laptop that’s running nice and quiet on Mint without the background telemetry of Windows 10 eating up CPU cycles and causing the laptop’s fans to have to needlessly ramp up to cool the laptop down.

             

            Linux would have never caught on without a need and a user base and the active developers joining together to maintain all that and improve over the years and that was driven by many factors on the economics side for the Enterprises that adopted the Linux Kernel based options. So Linux filled a void there for sure being open source and readily available sans any really bad licensing costs, that’s for sure! And even on the home user side where the end user wants more control over what’s installed on their PC/Laptop hardware. So now more than ever Linux will persist what with Windows 7  not an option for home users any longer without some extra expense there.

             

            Now that I’ve made the switch comes the realization that I could have done so much earlier and avoided a lot of hassle there! But that’s a done deal and I’m still a dual boot fan and whatever I need to serve my needs I’ll have available. .

             

            4 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335308
          anonymous
          Guest

          This is very simple. The companies that sell open-source based software are not the only ones paying people to work on it. The companies that use the open source software also pay people to work on it. Netflix doesn’t sell open source software but they famously optimized the FreeBSD network stack and helped patch some bugs present in Linux as well.

        • #2336257
          anonymous
          Guest

          Good question. I don’t think contributing to open source doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t get paid — especially if the company you work for benefits from the enhancements. For some individuals, contributions might just be a hobby, but I think many contributors do the work as part of their jobs.

      • #2335301
        klang
        AskWoody Plus

        Nice basic article on Linux.  I hope more follow.  Well done.  Thanks.

         

      • #2335335
        WSdavid-heath
        AskWoody Lounger

        I may be wrong… but I was of the impression that Torvalds’ first version of the Linux kernel was an implementation and extension of Tannenbaum’s Minix.

        • #2335351
          erbkaiser
          AskWoody Plus

          The first version of Linux was compiled on a Minix/GNU system but Linus Torvalds used no code from it. He did model the Linux kernel after the Minix kernel but there is no trace of Minix code in Linux.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2335348
        anonymous
        Guest

        In any discussion about the origin of Linux I believe that Richard Stallman’s contributions should be mentioned.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2335364
        anonymous
        Guest

        ? says:

        thanks for the linux piece from Sandra, Will. my first exposure to the wonderful world of mr. torvald came when my brother sent an OSDisks ubuntu “natty narwhal,” so i could access a recalccitrant Windows XP machine. then a few short years later, along came winx, which propelled me to download and learn how to run “trusty tahr,” and the rest is history…

      • #2335416
        Scribbler
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve always been drawn to Linux, but was put off from “jumping camps” due to me not having a coding background (..it all seemed so complicated and kind of reminded me of using DOS back in the day..).  Then there’s the fact most Distros are free, which is always an attractive option compared to Windows.

        From time to time I would find myself installing some new flavor of Linux and testing it out, but I guess I was looking for another Windows, having been a DOS / Windows guy since I first switched on a PC..and then I discovered Mint and it just clicked with me..I loved it from the very moment it loaded on my system for the first time!  But I’m still using Windows..

        Why?

        ..because I compose/produce/make music and I’ve spent a huge amount over the years on software and most of those programs don’t come made for Linux out of the box..you need to run WINE, but even then my experiences haven’t been so good with that setup.  I guess what I’m saying is when it comes to making music, either I don’t understand how to use Linux well enough or the issues I’ve run into with WINE just don’t make it practical for me to make the move over from Windows.

        A while back I remember there was some talk about Microsoft allowing Linux to use some of it’s code (forgive my ignorance here) that had resulted in some speculating online that this would result in maybe being able to run my Windows VSTs directly in Linux, but that seems to not be the case.  If only it wee, then I would move over to Linux in a heart beat.

        But let’s not forget the matter of Security, which it by far perhaps a more important selling point these days, more than ever before.  In all the years I’ve been dabbling with Linux distros, I don’t think I ever encountered any kind of virus or Trojan infection on my system, which isn’t something I can say when it comes to using Windows..and to my mind that makes Linux the better OS choice hands down any day.

        Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the article and share my own limited experiences with you guys and girls.

        All the best to everyone.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335514
          anonymous
          Guest

          Tip: Install Oracle VirtualBox on Linux. Free-cost; will run anything from Win95 to most of the newest. When I run a Windows flavor, on VBox, maximized window, on my LinuxMint install, it’s just like sitting at my old PC running that same M$ system 20 years ago. Oracle VBox has its own quirks, but it will do the job for me.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2335599
          johnf
          AskWoody Lounger

          Another solution is to use CodeWeavers .

          CodeWeavers modifies the Wine source code, applies compatibility patches, adds configuration tools that are more user-friendly, automated installation scripts, and provides technical support. Yes, it is fee based (so you have to pay for it), but it does allow a free trial, and they do maintain a database of windows software that works on linux using their solution.

          Wine can be a bit of a pain to use, but this makes it a lot simpler and more reliable. It’s worth checking out!

          • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by johnf.
          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2336258
          anonymous
          Guest

          Thanks for your reflections! I use Windows too — along with Ubuntu, RHEL  and MacOS (each on its own device). I was a SunOS => Solaris admin for years too. It’s been an interesting journey,

        • #2344378
          anonymous
          Guest

          But I’m still using Windows..
          Why?
          ..because I compose/produce/make music and I’ve spent a huge amount over the years on software and most of those programs don’t come made for Linux out of the box

          Respectfully submitted for your consideration:

          AV Linux

          Ubuntu Studio

          Hope this helps.

      • #2335460
        WSRonaldWK
        AskWoody Plus

        The fact that some vertical apps are tied so intimately to Windows can be a deterrent. I have depended on AutoCAD and other CADD apps based in Windows since 1995.

        Regards,

        Ron

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2335489
          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          … speaking of CAD… it’s a funny thing, one of those applications has the oldest known public version-controlled open-source codebase.

          (BRL-CAD, originating from US Army’s Ballistics Research Laboratory in 1983…)

          AutoCAD had UNIX versions until 1994.

        • #2335492
          lurks about
          AskWoody Plus

          Your situation, very common in business, does tend to pin users to Windows at work at least.

      • #2335469
        Ben Myers
        AskWoody Lounger

        A bootable USB stick with Linux Mint is my go-to computer diagnostic.  It boots quickly.  It enables me to see the system and video specs, to see info about laptop battery capacity, to test the wifi and to examine hard drive SMART data, all within a few minutes.  I could also do most, but not all of this, with a bootable Windows USB stick, like Winpese, it it takes a lot longer and it is less comprehensive.

        I routinely set up Linux systems for others, but do not have a regular Linux computer.  Still, I recognize what it can do for people who are not rigidly locked into certain Windows apps or who simply have difficulty learning something new and different.

        • #2336260
          anonymous
          Guest

          Excellent point! I’ve used Linux USB sticks to salvage systems too.

      • #2335496
        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Plus

        Sandra Henry-Stocker touts the wonders of the Linux command line, but from my perspective as a user the fact that it’s sometimes needed is precisely one of Linux’s drawbacks.

        DOS was the only thing around when I began working with computers, and I loved it. In fact, I disdained Windows for years after it came out, half-jokingly telling people that “I don’t do Windows.” I remember feeling validated in my preference by a circa 1987 article in the CompuServe magazine (yes, they had a print magazine back then) reporting on a study that claimed to show that users of the command line had higher IQs on average than did GUI users (a group limited mostly to Apple customers at the time). I didn’t start using Windows regularly until the mid-1990s with version 3 (which was already obsolescent at the time), and that was only because my business needed to keep its customers.

        But that was then and this is now. In the 30+ years since then, operating systems have become immensely more complex. The number of things that they do, and that you can do with them, has increased astronomically. With a tip o’ the hat to that 1987 CompuServe report, maybe I’ve gotten dumber in the decades since, but I truly have become a convert to the GUI. The commands are laid out in a (usually) logical, discoverable manner. Instead of having to scroll endlessly through monotonous screenfuls of CLI listings, I can see at a glance most or all of the commands relevant to the current context. I don’t need to remember the command to show other commands, and I don’t need to worry that I mistyped some arcane command. There is just no comparison in the user experience.

        Sooner or later, I will abandon Windows completely. (And then I’ll once again be able to say that “I don’t do Windows.”) However, the less need to go into the Linux CLI, the better. Fortunately, Linux GUIs have developed considerably and are now fully suitable for daily use. But if Linux were still CLI-focused, I’d be switching to a Mac.

         

        • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Cybertooth.
        • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Cybertooth.
        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335609
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Scrolling down endless man pages and lists of commands can be no joy, but I find that, for me at least, reading well-organized books on Linux and Unix commands, where these are listed and explained with some examples, is no big chore. And, the same as when looking for  a word in a dictionary, while on my way to the one I am looking for, I sometimes catch sight of other useful commands I did not know existed.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2336447
            anonymous
            Guest

            The man pages sure lack any examples and I’m from my Mainframe in College days used to reference manuals that at least include some examples rather than no examples at all. And the Mainframe Reference Manuals used a meta language format to describe the command line commands and that Meta Language has it’s own Primer/Manual that described in detail the command syntax. And that’s Something the Linux folks never implemented along with being rather indefinite  about how the various command line syntax is laid out.

            The Old Burroughs Mainframe manuals has what was called Railroad Diagrams for command line instructions and one could follow those and trace out all the possible command permutations.

            • #2338558
              WSmichael_b
              AskWoody MVP

              EBNF (Extended Backus-Naur Form) was the format for those “railroad diagrams”.

        • #2335745
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          Your experience was much like mine. I thought Windows 3.0 was a neat toy back in the day, but none of us PC users back then thought it was a tool for real work. We all knew MS-DOS was where the real work was done, and it was common to think that while the GUI was great for beginners, once you had your sea legs, so to speak, it just got in the way.

          When I was in computer science classes back in the day on UNIX machines (Sun SPARCs), everyone else was using graphical editors, while the first thing I would do was open a terminal window and use vi, which I learned to use on the fly as I was using it for the class assignments. I was good-naturedly called a dinosaur by one of my classmates, and I took it as a compliment. I learned the basic stuff about UNIX shells and such back then, but admin stuff… no, not on the university’s machines. I certainly didn’t have su privileges!

          When my MS-DOS applications started to be discontinued in favor of the Windows versions, I was dragged reluctantly into Windows on a more or less full time basis. The key one at that time was AOL, which was not an internet provider then. The fastest one could set the modem was to 9600 bps, while I had just acquired a blisteringly fast 14.4kbps modem for only $300, which was a steal at the time.

          Now I’m a convert to the GUI too. That mostly happened in 1996, when I first used Windows 95.

          I had always questioned the value of pre-95 Windows… it had hardware abstraction and allowed the use of extended RAM seamlessly, and those were valuable, but I thought the GUI was just weird. I was not sure it really had a reason to be other than putting window dressing on DOS (pun intended), like the character DOS shell (which I never used) except that it took much longer to load.

          Windows 95 was the first Windows that I thought really justified its own existence. From the start, it just seemed like a real way to actually use a computer. It just made sense in the way things were organized and worked. That was when I first began to see GUIs as being beneficial even for someone who could remember and use lots of commands from the DOS prompt.

          Now that I use Linux as my desktop OS, I am able to use the command line without any intimidation factor, but I still prefer not to most of the time. I pretty much always have the terminal window open (as I do now on the PC I am using to write this, my Dell G3), but my general preference is to use graphical tools where possible.

          When I set up the GUI for myself, it’s still patterned after that Windows 95 interface as much as possible. The Win2k UI is for me the final evolution of the 95 GUI, and remains the high water mark for MS Windows GUIs, and GUIs in general, with one exception, and that’s the inclusion of the search field that is focused by default as soon as the start menu is opened, which is something I really appreciate (and fortunately, Classic Shell had this option when I used 7 and 8.1).

          I use the KDE Application Menu instead of the default Application Launcher, since the Application Menu is based on the cascading submenus like the Classic Start menu in Windows. Both are available by default in KDE, and they both have the “search focused by default” feature.

          As in recent versions of Windows, I immediately get rid of the large-icons display in the panel (taskbar in Windows) with the two-line time and date, and then I get rid of the automatic program grouping with no captions, and then I put in the quick launch bar/icons. The KDE devs seem to be trying to make Plasma as friendly as possible to Windows users, but this was one of the things I think MS got worse on over time, not better.

          I also turn on the classic File, Edit… menubars if they are not already on, which on 8.1 or 10 meant installing Old New Explorer to get rid of the ribbon. I have the colors set to be quite close to the gray setup of the classic shell of 2k (by default) and I prefer UI widgets (common controls in Windows) that are as classic as possible, though I have made-do with the more “modern” KDE Breeze widgets for their better commonality with GTK+ programs like Firefox.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335823
          MHCLV941
          AskWoody Plus

          … but from my perspective as a user the fact that it’s[the command line] sometimes needed is precisely one of Linux’s drawbacks.

          Indeed!!

          Microsoft’s (relatively) newfound love for the command line, i.e., PowerShell is much the same.

          Maybe in big organizations,  there are enough people to become expert in all areas where Microsoft is increasingly forcing PowerShell to accomplish all manner of tasks, but in a smaller company, the SAs may be doing well just to keep up with knowing what they want to do; having to look up command after command is not helpful and not an improvement.

          • #2337712
            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            Probably a result of Microsoft’s focus shifting away from consumer Windows and toward corporate customers. Sysadmins don’t need the GUI to manage their PCs, and Powershell works well with scripts that the admins are likely to write.

            Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

      • #2335498
        lurks about
        AskWoody Plus

        If you do not run specific Windows only applications or do not use macros in MS Office Linux could be a very viable alternative and much cheaper than a Mac. There are many desktop Linux distros that are very user friendly. Also, not mentioned the official distro level documentation is usually very through and complete and once you get use it pretty easy to understand. Also if you know the lineage of the distro you can use the parent distro’s documentation as an additional refernce.

        On point about running the terminal, when I do some more serious work on a Mac often the instructions include a line about opening ‘Terminal’ and type in the command. Very Linuxy.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2335512
          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          Well. Current MacOS actually is UNIX® … Linux is merely “Unix-like”.

          So in that sense it’d be more appropriate to say that Linux’s command line is very much like what you can get on a Mac.

          (Sure, back in the 90s various Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, IRIX, etc workstation users would’ve gone “huh” if told that Apple is the last actual full-stack style UNIX workstation vendor… though you can still get Solaris on a PC-based workstation if you really need to.)

          3 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2335602
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            mn- ” So in that sense it’d be more appropriate to say that Linux’s command line is very much like what you can get on a Mac.

            That is one of the main reasons I am using a Mac and have been interested in it since the coming of OS X, now called macOS, when Steve Jobs introduced it on 1998. I do my work using the Terminal application that is a Mac’s door to the command line. I use the GUI to do other things, such as to launch with one click a browser, for example, putting some files, for quicker access, in the Desktop (e.g. “mv filename Desktop/.”) and once there put them in directories with their screen icons that look as folders, by dragging them inside; to cut and paste text and other things that are faster this way; to do personal email …

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2335704
        AlexEiffel
        AskWoody_MVP

        Nos cons to Linux, really? No mention of Office compatibility? No, the alternatives are not good enough when you have to exchange documents with others that use Office or when you are a power user.

        For Linux to eat much more PC desktops shares, it would have to improve vs gaming or it would have to easily support Office, at minimum. If it gained enough traction among power users and had to be considered when software is being developed, then it could help it gain more market share. Right now, it is still irrelevant on the desktop for the vast majority of users.

        The issue of uncertainty with each distro is also a big negative. Do you think CentOS 8 admins are happy after what IBM did to Red Hat’s free offering? Yes, maybe due to the nature of Linux, Rocky will get those users and maybe it won’t be that bad of a ride to get there, but not many sysadmins have enough time to loose migrating to a new OS when it is not necessary. Plus they didn’t need the stress of seeing this happen and wondering how/when they will be ok with no ETA projected for Rocky.

        Of course, you could say Microsoft is doing a bit of the same by removing features from Windows Pro to strongly invite business users to use versions that are much more expensive but are supported for longer. Linux model makes it easy to fork, which is both a blessing and a curse, since it protects from control, but can ends up with distros that feel like they are in a perpetual state of hobbyist dream, since not many like to code boring stuff that is required for stability and support. We end up with new fun features and regressions.

        However, Windows 10 brings lots of negatives that wasn’t there before and that Linux doesn’t suffer from. For an amusing story about a triple-boot system:

        https://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/lenovo-ideapad-3-review-second.html

        If Microsoft wants Windows back as they say (although I don’t think it went away that much in usage despite the negatives), they will need to do more than Windows dressing, but Linux desktop is farther away from mainstream adoption. The deliberate effort of a big corporation could make that happen like it did for Android and MacOS but who is going to do that and why?

         

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2335721
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Linux is used as the main OS in some large government organizations in Europe, for example some I deal with: in Germany BKG, the Federal Bureau of Cartography and Geodesy, and DLR, the German Aerospace Agency, as well as in some universities i Germany and in other European countries. This is why I need to use my own Linux capability to deal with executable files, among other things, that I get or send, now and then, from or to these organizations. Windows is no help for that because it is little used in them (this does not mean that no MS products are used). So it is quite possible for even large and important”Enterprise” type of entities to use Linux primarily. The problem with switching to Linux is for those organizations and businesses, large and small, where Windows has been the prevalent, or the only, OS used for a long time, as often happens, for example, in the USA.

          Personally, I am not concerned about the smaller PC market share of Linux. Its market share makes no difference to what I do and it also makes someone like me somewhat less of a target of malicious attacks (so safer, if certainly not invulnerable), because, as it is well-known, Linux’s smaller share makes it less interesting to cybercriminals than the far more used Windows. Certainly not a virtue of Linux, just the way things are.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335738
          MHCLV941
          AskWoody Plus

           ends up with distros that feel like they are in a perpetual state of hobbyist dream

          Indeed!!

          2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335827
          doriel
          AskWoody Lounger

          Thank you for your reading.

          Nos cons to Linux, really?

          Yes there are. Linux has far more requirements on the user. At least the one who wants to run and install other applications then FireFox or VLC media player. But the best part for me is – Linux does not understand me as a customer. I am user and I am the overlord on Linux PC.
          PC with Linux simply obeys my rules. It does not bring bunch of features which I was was not asking for, thus eating my resources and time.
          Im not Linux Guru, I have experiences with Fedora and Mint, which I use on daily basis. I roughly know Ubuntu and OpenSuse. And I sometimes dont know how to do things.. but recently with Windows 10 experience I incline to Linux. Apart my job, I do not use Windows anymore.

          I know, that Linux is also used in Enterprise sphere, but thats where Linux is not free anymore. Enterprise solutions are charged regullary.

          If someone comes to me that he wants to have PC only for surfing and multimedia (usually older people), I put Fedora on an older machine. Then I learn them where to click to access the web. Also I learn them where to click, if they want to turn their PC off.
          And thats the way it will remain. Mission accomplished.
          This is not possible with windows, since this “ultra-modern-half-baked-service” is changing its coat twice a year. Also it overwhealms users with unusefull information wihich they were not asking for.

          Windows is still the top of the tree, but more and more we feel, that the direction Widows goes is not perfect.
          Im glad that there is competition, it can make things better. If programs like MS Office or whatever did not have such inertia, Windows would not be users number one choice at this time. Its the past, which “is to blame”.

          Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

          HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

          4 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2335950
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Doriel: ” I am user and I am the overlord on Linux PC.

            That is it. Exactly. That used to be the logical and normal way, also with Windows, until it started to come, in new versions after XP, first with Win 7 built on the assumption that I was some employee toiling away in a cubicle in some big room filled with like partitions and my non-existent boss’ sysadmin was the ruler of my home office PC and the possessor of a, to me, secret password to my very own machine. And then, later, the flurry of developments, when both useful and used things both in the OS and its main MS applications started to get changed frequently through “upgrades” that added little or no new functionally, just eye-candy clutter, even if one liked to keep those things exactly as they were, or might wanted to see a few things added, but the rest left alone. Some features in Office come to mind: I don’t remember asking for those ribbons.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

            2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2336463
          anonymous
          Guest

          The Linux Out of the Box experience is not there for hardware, especially laptops, where the Hardware/Drivers is concerned. And If one Looks at the non OEM instillation of that Linux OS process as on  AMD’s Ryzen APU based laptops then that Out of the box experience is not there if one wants the Linux Kernel shipping with OpenCL drivers along with the usual MESA OpenGL and Vulkan drivers that ship with the Linux Kernel for AMD’s Ryzen APUs. That’s not an Issue on Windows as the OEM’s designing the Laptop/Laptops firmware with Windows 10 in mind and that comes ore-installed and OpenCL working for Open Source Software like Blender 3D, Gimp, Other Opensource software with Windows versions.

          Now not having the OpenCL drivers does not affect gaming that much, if at all, but as far as opensource software that needs OpenCL working on Linux out of the Box(Via The Live USB/Live DVD install) then that OpenCL is needed as Bender 3D’s GPU Accelerated Cycles rendering will not work without OpenCL(GPU Accelerated Compute workloads) For Cycles Ray Tracing/Rendering. And Gimp, Darktable and other open source applications that need for some tasks OpenCL installed.

          So I have one Laptop and I’m running a Hardware Enablement(HWE) Kernel in order for that Laptop’s newer AMD APU hardware to work properly but AMD’s OpenCL drivers are for LTS Kernels mostly and that’s not gotten around to the later Linux(HWE) kernel builds, or even the newest LTS Builds just yet, and so that laptop’s OpenCL driver install has to be deferred until things catch up.

          But I’d really like for the Linux community to become more focused on the Opensource Applications that need GPGPU via OpenCL and not just Games that can get by with OpenGL/Vulkan that ships with the opensource driver stack on Linux Kernel based dstros For AMD’s Ryzen Processors. Most of the Games running on Linux are Proprietary and Gimp, Blender 3D, DarkTable, etc. are opensource  and for some their functionality OpenCL is required. So it’s rather ironic that Opensource Application software that’s needing OpenCL gets so little attention on Linux(Opensource OS/Kernel) while Gaming(Mostly Proprietary)  gets so much efforts from the Linux/MESA development community.

           

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2337484
            Ascaris
            AskWoody_MVP

            As you alluded to, most people don’t see the bit about how easy or hard it is to set Windows up because it is already done for them on the PC they buy. If Linux were already set up, you wouldn’t have to concern yourself with the setup in that case either. There are not as many choices as with Windows, but there are a few that will sell you a PC already set up with Linux. I haven’t bought a Linux set up already myself, but that’s a function of the really good deals being on commodity hardware at big box retailers, which means it’s going to come with Windows. I don’t mind setting it up, though… I find it fun.

            FWIW, I’ve set Linux up on several laptops, with multiple distros on some of them (the Dell G3 is pentuple boot, with KDE Neon, Kubuntu 20.04, Mint 20, Fedora 33, and Windows 10), with hardware ranging from “it’s been obsolete for years” to current production at the time (though all of the current models have been Intel powered), and my experience has been that I have to “go fish” for drivers less than on Windows. Both Windows and Linux required me to find the drivers for my Canon printer/scanner’s printer portion, but Linux worked out of the box with the scanner portion, which Windows did not. Linux worked instantly with my new Intel AX500 Wifi-6 NIC after I put it in, while Windows 10 (not sure which build) gave me the yellow ! symbol in the Device Manager.

            Back in the day, the Device Manager on a newly-installed Windows was always full of yellow !s, some of them unknown devices, others with known device names. I don’t know whether that continues to be true with recent Windows 10 builds, but I remember having to look around for drivers when I put Windows 7 and later 8.1 (both 64 bit) on my Core 2 Duo laptop, the Asus F8. It came with Vista 32-bit, so the drivers from Asus were not only ancient (not having been updated since the unit went out of warranty), but incompatible with the new OS.

            I did get everything working with both of those versions of Windows, but it entailed looking far and wide and sometimes downloading drivers that had been packaged for PCs unlike my own, including HP and Lenovo OEM drivers. Linux has always just worked out of the box for nearly everything, and that delay between plugging in a device for the first time and being able to use it (while Windows installs the driver from its own internal cache) isn’t there.

            I got lucky with the printer/scanner, which I bought before I contemplated a move to Linux, but fortunately Canon provides a robust Linux driver that is the equal of its Windows counterpart. Not all OEMs will even bother releasing Linux drivers, though, as with my Swift’s fingerprint reader, the one thing that does not work in Linux across all of my PCs. The manufacturer has not released a Linux driver, and the last time I looked, the open source drivers had not been made available either, so it just sits there unused.

            I’m not terribly upset about that, as I would not use it as a main-line security feature anyway. I use a strong (randomized by true random means) password to secure the encrypted volume with my personal data, and I would not stop doing that even if the reader worked.

            I think OpenCL doesn’t get as much attention as you would like because nVidia’s CUDA is seen as something of a standard, and that’s available on Linux via the proprietary driver as in Windows. I’ve run Folding@home on my nVidia GPU in Linux, but I am not really sure which it used, as both are configured, according to the settings screen.

             

            Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

            • #2337553
              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              Besides, printers are fairly manageable… because the Windows drivers can be an even worse problem at least for some models, after a few years.

              Avoid this by only buying printers that can take a known control language, either as primary or an alternative method. PCL, PostScript, or one of the other languages.

              (Yes, I’ve had to use “generic” printer drivers more on Windows than on Linux. Only way to get the old Crystal Reports label printing to work after a Windows Server version upgrade, etc…)

              OpenCL is often a bother on nVidia and on low-end models often just not worth it… much easier to get benefits from it with AMD, even just APU integrated graphics cores. Also worked like that in Windows as well as Linux last time I tried any OpenCL benchmarks on what we had at the time.

            • #2337816
              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              Er, that should have read “AX200 Wifi-6.”

              Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

      • #2335755
        cybercrone
        AskWoody Plus

        I tried 3 different Linux distros back in the early or mid ’90s, and I was really excited about getting to know them and work with them

        However, (and I heard this from numerous friends and acquaintances who had tried it as well) the Linux community was unhelpful to the point of being hostile to anyone who tried to come in and get help with the learning.

        It wasn’t as if I didn’t know how to turn on a computer.  I’d done COBOL and PLll programing in the late ’70s with a bit of Basic, though the only thing I was working with in the ’90s was HTML.  But still, I wasn’t a rank newby.

        It seemed as if the Linux community really reveled in their specialness and wanted to keep that to themselves.  So, I gave it up, reluctantly, and haven’t gone near it since.

        I hope that has changed.  I would love to see more people using it and not having their whole lives owned by some corporation the way Google owns mine now.

        Great article though.  Hopefully it will persuade a few more to give it a try.

        "She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined.
        She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot."
        --Mark Twain

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2335764
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          ” She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot”

          Cybercrone, going by that quotation of Mark Twain in your signature panel, I hope your parrot can sing on demand to regale your guests with some off-color songs of your own choosing.

          As to the friendliness of Linux Web sites, things are different these days: there are sites and WebPages run by Ubuntu, for example, explaining how to do many things and deal with many problems. There are some very good and up-to-date books on Linux that teach, step by easy step, how to use it, progressing, chapter after chapter, from the rock-bottom to the advanced level. There are also forums where even naïve questions might be answered in a comprehensible, if rather hit or miss way. So you might, occasionally, be left less than perfectly satisfied. Still, worth a shot.

          And last, but not least, there is a Forum here, in AskWoody, dedicated to Linux, where questions are answered with mostly useful suggestions, as well as politely, else the answerer might not have an uncouth answer left very long where it can be seen.

          Besides AskWoody, these sites can also be helpful,some for answering higher-level questions than others:

          https://unix.stackexchange.com/  (It is about closely related Linux and Unix, not just about Unix)

          https://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/linux

          https://askubuntu.com/

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          3 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2335767
            cybercrone
            AskWoody Plus

            That’s great information OscarCP.  Thanks so much.  Maybe I’ll take a flyer at it again.

            "She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined.
            She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot."
            --Mark Twain

        • #2337678
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          It seemed as if the Linux community really reveled in their specialness and wanted to keep that to themselves. So, I gave it up, reluctantly, and haven’t gone near it since.

          That’s really a shame. I don’t know why people are sometimes like that. Fortunately, I haven’t seen it myself in the time I have used Linux (since late 2015). I don’t know if it is that I have mostly kept to Ubuntu derivatives or that the community has changed, but there seem to be more helpful people now. I don’t think using a given OS makes me special… I just want it to be as usable as possible, for me and for others.

          If there is an exclusive club for the OG Linux users, I’m not in it either. I would still happily be using Windows if Windows 10 had been more like Windows XP or 7. Can’t unring the bell, though, so even if Windows is improved enough to resolve all of the issues I have with it in its current form, I’ll still use Linux, though I may give a little bit more room to the Windows partition in that case.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

          • #2337716
            DrBonzo
            AskWoody Plus

            My first experience with Linux was in August 2017 with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the Win 7 patching experience and was looking for something that would be less stressful. I figured out how to install it as a dual boot with Win 7 and the only problem I had was that I couldn’t listen to MIDI files with any of the software that either came with the Ubuntu installation or that I installed from a repository. When I tried to get help from Ubuntu help forums I basically got some variation of: “You’re too stupid to live, but if per chance you’re not quite that stupid, go back where people who need help with Linux belong and should stay, namely Windows or macOS.” I actually got every phrase (and others) of that last sentence at one time or another from “help” forum folks. I finally solved the MIDI problem myself. I really didn’t like the Ubuntu interface, but I loved how stable it was and how stress-free and fast the patching process was. So I decided to look at the help forums for some other distros and found a large variation in tone. I finally settled on Mint because it’s interface is very Win 7-like (to me, a good thing) and because the help forums were generally quite civil and helpful, and there were even people who seemed happy that a newbie was using Mint.

            I’m glad I persisted because I’ve been using Mint 19.2 Cinnamon as my daily driver for the last year, and I’ll never go back. Occasionally something is easier to do on macOS or Win 8.1, but for a daily driver, Mint is it for me.

            • #2337718
              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              When I tried to get help from Ubuntu help forums I basically got some variation of: “You’re too stupid to live, but if per chance you’re not quite that stupid, go back where people who need help with Linux belong and should stay, namely Windows or macOS.”

              That’s really disappointing. I really don’t get why people are like that. Everyone has to start out not knowing about something new, including themselves. I want people to use Linux and to hopefully find that it meets their needs! That makes Linux more viable for me, as it increases the odds that software publishers will release Linux versions of their products if there are more people using it on the desktop. I surely don’t wish to shoo Linux beginners away. And in an Ubuntu forum, even… Ubuntu was supposed to be oriented to regular computer users from the start.

              I’d rather hang in a forum full of Linux ‘noobs’ than to be in one with a bunch of elitists who hang out in a Linux help forum and then make fun of people who ask for help.

              Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

              3 users thanked author for this post.
              • #2337788
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Reading what DrBonzo is telling us now of his off putting experience, echoing what I have been told repeatedly by others, I realize, once more, how lucky I was when I was learning to use Linux and how lucky I still am in having approachable colleagues and friends helping me, now and then, along the way. And, on top of that, also the amicable and useful help from people here at AskWoody.

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

              • #2337804
                doriel
                AskWoody Lounger

                I ran into same experience as few above, maybe there are few toxic furums, I agree with some Linux forums being hostile to newbies. Maybe those people just feel superior. They are at least superior in Linux knowledge, thats fact.

                And Im missing one fact in the discussoin above – that “operating system market” or “mainstream computing” was treating Linux community badly. I think that hostility can be just legacy of the past, when Linux users were understood as underground and weirdos.

                Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

                HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

      • #2335754
        WSArthurR
        AskWoody Plus

        I installed Linux Mint on my old Win 7 laptop. It runs better than ever, and out performs my new HP/Win 10 machine with twice the ram!

         

      • #2335820
        bbearren
        AskWoody MVP

        I have used Linux, I have programmed in Linux, but Linux still is not Windows.  And as for cost, I haven’t paid for Windows in over 10 years.  I ran Windows 7 from its release until 2015, when Windows 10 was introduced as a free upgrade.

        For good or ill, there remain some things that can be done on Windows that cannot be done on Linux.  And yes, problems exist with Windows on some hardware, but I have yet, personally, to experience any of those problems.

        Windows is amenable to a great many mods and tweaks, and can be made to run as a very solid, stable platform that lets me get on with the things for which I first started using a PC without the OS getting in the way.

        Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
        "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
        "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2335972
        Microfix
        AskWoody MVP

        Having tried various GNU linux distro’s, more over the last five years than before, I’m certainly happier using ANY of those instead of W10. Yes, there may be compatibility issues with software we are familiar with and use in a work/ home environment and that’s where (for me/us) Win7/ 8.1 come in. I feel more confident using Linux online than I did using W10 when testing. One thing I do find about linux distro’s is progress has increased since the release of W10 and is getting better for homeusers.

        And as for cost, I haven’t paid for Windows in over 10 years

        In a financial sense no, and I’d agree. Although regarding privacy, trust and mental wellbeing, it’s already burdened a cost for those using W10

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2336004
        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        Linux has far more requirements on the user. At least the one who wants to run and install other applications then FireFox or VLC media player.

        … well yeah, technically. But show me any end user who uses Linux directly

        (I’ve been told that at least MATE and Xfce are “easier” to learn and use than current versions of Windows. Still haven’t tried the former myself and I’d be biased anyway.)

        What I’m getting at is, Linux by itself doesn’t have a simple end-user interface and it isn’t even supposed to. That usually comes with the distribution packaging and so on, or at least the interface is chosen at install time… and generalizing from the various desktops or even from simple character-mode login for “Linux” user experience is a logical error, though a very common one.

        Besides, typically the desktop environments can be built and run under a *BSD kernel just as well… and Solaris comes with GNOME desktop by default these days.

        • #2336022
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          mn- : You probably are referring to installing from the GUI rather than from the command line. If this is right, then: I do both, depending on what is that I have to download and install. But, when possible, I prefer to do it from the GUI. (I do it the same way with macOS.) I would hazard the guess that many do the same thing

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          • #2336097
            mn–
            AskWoody Lounger

            … my point was, “Linux” by itself does not have a GUI. Or an installer. Or even a proper command line. It’s just the kernel.

            Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, SuSE, Slackware, Arch, Gentoo, etc… package an installer and a GUI with Linux. And also a bunch of applications and a way to install those… typically at least Bash, but not always.

            Linux builds for embedded devices might be packaged with other tools, often no GUI at all and Busybox or Asmutils instead of full GNU or even BSD command line tools.

            • #2336105
              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              mn- : Sorry for not being clearer; I was actually referring only to this sentence that you wrote:

              ” … well yeah, technically. But show me any end user who uses Linux directly…

              I agree entirely with the rest of your comment.

              Although, apropos of nothing, there may be something also to be said that by “Linux” one might also mean, now and then, “GNU/Linux”, as preached by Richard Stallman:

              https://www.gnu.org/gnu/why-gnu-linux.en.html

              Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

              1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2336117
              doriel
              AskWoody Lounger

              Mint, Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat, SuSE, Slackware, Arch, Gentoo, etc… package an installer and a GUI with Linux. And also a bunch of applications and a way to install those… typically at least Bash, but not always.

              That is good, or not? The kernel can be used nearly everywhere, in wrist watch, or in the Big Ben to run the clock.
              Thats the power of Linux isnt it? Its awesome how multiple GUIs can work together with Linux kernell. It shows the true power and variability of Linux systems. Windows has more problems with itself, cant imagine such situation with Windows, its just not that good and stable as Linux is.

              The GUI is for “basic home users” (with RPM packages to install SW), so even non-techy usesrs can run Linux Distro and install by double-click.
              Maybe I dont know who uses Linux directly, I do occasionally run command from terminal. On Android I use ABD to configure mobile devices. Is that “using Linux directly”?

              From the @OscarCP link above (interesting reading BTW):

              Please help us, by calling the operating system GNU/Linux.

              Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

              HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

              • #2336118
                mn–
                AskWoody Lounger

                Maybe I dont know who uses Linux directly, I do occasionally run command from terminal. On Android I use ABD to configure mobile devices. Is that “using Linux directly”?

                Nah, your terminal commands go through at least the shell and usually a bunch of libraries too before getting to the kernel.

                Apropos of Stallman, well, there’s more than just GNU in there… and I do slightly miss the much more streamlined BSD userland suite, just haven’t been bothered enough to switch to it.

                1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2336125
                doriel
                AskWoody Lounger

                Well, Im GNU user strictly then. Cant imagine how more direct I could Linux use, my knowledge is just not enough. Im happy with GNU/Linux at this moment and I think majority of public would be, if went from Win to GNU/Linux.

                Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 1809 Enterprise

                HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

              • #2336134
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                FreeBSD? I’ve used it and have hardly noticed the difference with Linux.

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

      • #2336509
        Charlie
        AskWoody Plus

        Please excuse me if I’m wrong about this but – when you get down to the basics of Windows, isn’t there “just a kernel”?  All the other stuff is added on to the kernel, just like Linux.

        • #2336569
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Charlie: Metaphorically speaking, and as I understand this (of course, I’m probably wrong):

          To me, the operating systems we use are actually each the marriage of a kernel (e.g., the New Technology” or NT elements common to all versions of windows since NT), that’s the groom. The bride, much prettier, is the GUI that lets you open all those windows, hence the name of the whole MS package, as well as the various bits and pieces of her dowry such as scripts, libraries of subroutines, etc. that enable the consorts to work together in happy marital bliss and allow developers to write applications that can run in the OS and do things for the users, but did not came “out of the box” with the OS. Those are like friends and relatives that like to help the couple. Now, who or what are the children? Good question. What do you think?

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #2337173
            Charlie
            AskWoody Plus

            Now, who or what are the children? Good question. What do you think?

            You got me thinking and the first things that come to mind are Event Reports and Log files.  There are probably more that are the product of just the kernel and GUI.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2337681
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          Windows uses its own proprietary kernel, but the term Windows does not just apply to that bit. Windows is the name of the whole OS, which consists of much more than just a kernel.

          The term “Linux” refers to the kernel specifically. This is the part that was developed initially by Linus Torvalds, and he still leads the kernel development team. For that kernel to become a full-fledged OS, much more needs to be added to it, and that’s done by the distro. By the time it is done, there will be thousands more packages added, while the kernel itself consists only a handful (three, in the case of Ubuntu).

          We often call this finished product “Linux” as a kind of shorthand to mean “an operating system based on the Linux kernel,” otherwise known as a Linux distro, but that’s not technically accurate. Richard Stallman argues that it should be called GNU/Linux, but even that doesn’t capture what a modern distro is all about now. There are more packages that are not GNU or part of the kernel than those that are.

          You can’t use Linux by itself because a kernel is not an operating system. It’s a necessary component of an OS, but there are lots of other things needed also to make it into an actual OS.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

          • #2337698
            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Ascaris: “By the time it is done, there will be thousands more packages added, while the kernel itself consists only a handful (three, in the case of Ubuntu).

            Live and learn. I had  always thought the kernel was one and the same for all distros, because Linus Torvalds “leads its kernel development team.” I’ve heard that said before and understood it to mean that there is one such team that develops the one evolving kernel. My knowledge of this is definitely small, so I’d appreciate if someone could take the time to explain it a bit further. Thanks.

            Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

            • #2337717
              Ascaris
              AskWoody_MVP

              Live and learn. I had always thought the kernel was one and the same for all distros, because Linus Torvalds “leads its kernel development team.”

              Well, you’re right in that the kernels are not all the same, but the bit about being three packages doesn’t really relate to that. To update a kernel version, in Ubuntu, it takes 3 packages, and other optional bits may be pulled in too.

              The kernel versions that are released by Torvalds and company are “mainline” releases. Distros don’t usually include mainline kernels… each of them makes their own special modifications as they see fit (which they can, of course, because the kernel is open source), and they will often have different compile-time options set as well.

              It’s for this reason that Ubuntu recommends that its users do not use a mainline kernel for day to day use, though they do make them all available if people want them. I’ve run mainline kernels on my Ubuntu-based distros (currently KDE Neon) and never had any problems, but Canonical has not tested these kernels with Ubuntu to ensure they work as expected.

              There are also specialized kernels for many tasks. There’s a low-latency version for people working with real-time audio and such, and there are all kinds of other versions modified for various purposes by various individuals and companies.

               

               

              Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

              1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #2337721
              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              I had always thought the kernel was one and the same for all distros, because Linus Torvalds “leads its kernel development team.” I’ve heard that said before and understood it to mean that there is one such team that develops the one evolving kernel.

              Well from one point of view…

              The mainline kernel source code tree is the same one for all the distros, yes.

              But you can’t run source code directly so they all take some version of the source and the toolchain, and distribute prebuilt binary kernels. (With some configuration choices locked in at build time, like what CPU models to support and what to optimize for.)

              Some have even added extra “out of tree” patches.

              And then they usually do the “security only” update thing on top of that, so keep the same kernel major version and backport newer security fixes into it, trying to avoid the “update broke something” kind of issue.
              (This is especially needed with closed-source device drivers – nVidia doesn’t seem to keep up with Linus, for example.)

              This is why I’m on 5.4.something (Ubuntu 18.04 hwe-edge with nvidia-driver package) for example, while Linus is working on 5.11 … and 5.10.10 is the latest mainline “released” kernel.

              I can and have run 5.10 mainline kernels on this thing, but that breaks my graphics features somewhat (nvidia-driver doesn’t work on 5.10 on this hardware, have to use nouveau instead) and other things work differently.

              1 user thanked author for this post.
              • #2337771
                OscarCP
                AskWoody Plus

                Ascaris and mn- : Thank you both for explaining in some detail that  there are different variants, for different reasons, of the mainline kernel supervised by Linus. For example, the kernel has to be compatible with the CPU of the machines it is supposed to run on. So the kernel for the Amiga is not going to be quite the same as the one for Intel PCs. I imagine there are also different ones for different generations of Intel CPUs, as there is one for the Apple/ARM M1 CPU of the new Macs.

                Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

                • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by OscarCP.
              • #2337800
                mn–
                AskWoody Lounger

                Also there are a number of choices you can make at build time even for same-architecture hardware.

                It’s common nowadays to include information on what those choices were, in /boot/config-{version} … there’s thousands of choices there.

                $ grep CONFIG /boot/config-$(uname -r) |wc -l

                8781
                

                … yes, 8781 things you can tweak.

                Some of those depend on others of course, for example if you choose to not build the “I915” driver (for the Intel GPUs) at all, the other 20 config settings related to that driver do nothing.

                So if you’re building for some specific thing, you might know what’ll be in the box and can skip the drivers for all the things that aren’t there. And their initialization at runtime.

                Also some things like scheduling will affect how the kernel handles different workloads. If you’re working with realtime audio and/or video, you might want the lowlatency scheduling options. (Available prebuilt on some distributions.) Generic probably has more raw throughput though.

                And the various virtualization-focused kernel flavors tuned for running under those kinds of platforms… if you’re paying for CPU cycles on a cloud-virtual server you might not want to spend those cycles probing for sound cards and Bluetooth.

      • #2336505
        anonymous
        Guest

        Linux market share is pretty small, but it is made up of people donating time to developing a Linux OS project or an application that runs on Linux. They are not in the business of making money off of a Linux distribution. Of course that also means not many PC makers buy into the Linux OS and install it by default on their systems. Probably because most users wouldn’t know what to do with Linux. many poorer countries tend to favor Linux more because it is free and runs on almost any hardware.  A big plus if you need to hang on to a old PC a bit longer.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2336542
        firemind
        AskWoody Lounger

        Years ago when Windows 98 was heading to EOL I began researching Linux because I couldn’t afford a new computer. I joined a LUG and tested out some live cds. I used Knoppix for a bit and bought a boxed version of Xandros (what some diehards called a “baby linux” because it used Codeweavers/Wine and the desktop was too much like windows (it was KDE). I dual booted Windows and Xandros for a few years until I got a new computer.

        I switched back to Windows because my distro was floundering and games I was interested in weren’t available for Linux. If Xandros had survived or something similar had caught my attention I may have kept using Linux.

        I sort of kept abreast of Linux news but didn’t return to it until last years due to Windows 7 ceasing to be supported. I didn’t like the way Microsoft pushed upgrading and changed how updating worked. Furthermore the Windows 10 desktop didn’t appeal to me.

        I researched Linux distros and tried live USBs and finally settled on Linux Mint Cinnamon. Things haven’t been perfect but i have managed to do okay and my computer experience hasn’t changed too much. I play online games and chat with friends, and keep to my online routine. Life goes on.

        Linux is like anything else in life – you get out of it what you put into it.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2337179
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Linux market share is pretty small

        Linux market share on desktop is pretty small.

        “Linux” rules the world in OS usage (servers, mobile, set-top boxes, TVs…)

        3 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2337213
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          And also a small share of a whole lot is still a whole lot. More interesting than their percentage share of the market is what are the Linux running desktops and laptops used for and by whom. How about that a lot of those working in science and in engineering use it to do their research and their R/D work?

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2338124
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        Sysadmins don’t need the GUI to manage their PCs, and Powershell works well with scripts that the admins are likely to write.

        Speak for yourself.

        GUIs are a big help in getting many, no, nearly all, day-to-day tasks completed quickly and correctly.   I very seldom had to resort to scripts (since the late 1980s) until Microsoft reverted to the “REAL sysadmins write scripts” delusion shared by Cisco and crippled the Exchange management GUI in favor of PowerShell.

        • #2338197
          mn–
          AskWoody Lounger

          That’ll be the difference between a hard requirement (can be done at all) and a quantitative requirement (making things easier, quicker, feasible with less task-specific training) …

          GUIs used to be too resource-intensive to be worth it for just about anything. They’re a lot more affordable nowadays, and the critical threshold… depends heavily on what exactly you’re doing.

          It’s now a matter of public record that GUI-like elements were considered for certain military applications quite a bit earlier than the Xerox Alto was made.

          I’d note that there are a number of centralized management systems for servers that don’t require a GUI on the managed server to present one to the working administrator for most tasks. This might be a separate product entirely, though. (And there are a number of vendors for these, commercially. Have worked with several such products myself – one of those I’ve used was even sold by the same folks who’d packaged the server operating system on most of the servers we had at the time.)

        • #2338217
          Ascaris
          AskWoody_MVP

          I was guessing at Microsoft’s motivation for removing GUI methods for doing things that existed in older versions of Windows.

          Group "L" (KDE Neon Linux 5.21.2 User Edition)

      • #2338209
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        GUIs used to be too resource-intensive to be worth it for just about anything.

        Indeed.  I recall Bill Gates being quoted some years ago to the effect that early PCs spent 90% of their power actually doing work and 10% on the interface, such as the DOS prompt was.   At the time of the quote, perhaps Windows NT or 2000, he said that the ratio had reversed.  The computer needed about 10% for the computing tasks assigned and could devote the other 90% to the interface, aka Windows.

        Another point about nice-to-have vs. need-to-have.  I’ve read about organizations that have mail administrators, DBA, user support technicians, network specialists and on and on.  Presumably, all these specialists had the narrowness of responsibility and the time to become skilled in the pertinent scripting languages.  In such an organization, I suppose GUIs are nice-to-have.   They are also the ones who can afford those management systems you mention.

        I’ve never worked for such an organization nor have any of the system admins I know personally.  On a normal day, I could have to complete tasks in all of those areas and having GUIs made it possible to do so in a timely manner.  GUIs do not help someone who has no clue what needs to be done,  but they are a great help in getting those disparate tasks done for someone who knows what needs to be done.   In this latter situation, GUIs are far closer to need-to-have.

        The infatuation with scripts rather than GUIs is akin to thinking no one can drive a car or fly an airplane without knowing how to build or repair them.    Very few of the people who can successfully drive or fly can also repair the machines they drive or fly.

         

        • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by MHCLV941.
        • #2338225
          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          In my own experience with computers I have found that certain things are easier to do from the command line, while others are easier to do from the GUI. So I use one or the other depending on what I am trying to do. For developing and testing software I prefer the command line, for everything else, the GUI. At a guess, that is probably so because, after many years of doing things this way, it has become very hard for me to change my spots.

          Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group W (ex B) & macOS Mojave + Linux (Mint)

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #2338226
            mn–
            AskWoody Lounger

            I have found that certain things are easier to do from the command line, while others are easier to do from the GUI.

            Exactly. Use the right tool for the job, etc…

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