Linux has run out of time – I looked into the trap, Jim


I like to read the “Today in open source” column written by Jim Lynch.

On the 27th August there was a link to an article by John Dvorak which basically stated that Linux has run out of time.

Speaking of Munich, John Dvorak uses it as the opening to a diatribe about how Linux on the desktop has run out of time or something like that. Think carefully before you click through to read the article

The above quote was written by Jim Lynch and I should have heeded the warning. Jim told me before clicking through that this was an article designed to stir up a wasps nest.

What has this to do with the Ghostbusters video linked above? There is a line in Ghostbusters where Ray says “Ok, I’m opening the trap, don’t look into the trap” and just seconds follow before Egon says “I looked into the trap, Ray”.

Humans are curious and if there is a big red button that says “do not press” our natural instincts makes us wonder what the button is for and the second instinct is to press it to find out.

Linux has run out of time

The reason for John’s article appears to be the on off relationship that Munich appears to be having with Linux at the moment.
John Dvorak believes that Linux has had its chance and it has failed to impress. 

I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can’t accomplish any of this with Linux.

Does this tell us more about John’s failings than the state of Linux. Let us consider podcasting for example. Linux Outlaws, Everyday Linux, The Linux Links Tech Show (TLLTS), Ubuntu UK Podcast, Mintcast, Linux Action Show. All of these are really excellent examples of Linux podcasts. Am I supposed to believe that all of these podcasts are made using Windows? If John is right then it wouldn’t be possible for all of these excellent podcasts to create their recordings using the operating system that they discuss on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
What about writing? Linux User & Developer Magazine, Linux Format Magazine, Linux Journal. Are all of these magazines using Windows to write articles about Linux. That would seem a bit counterproductive. How can people write so religiously about a topic that they don’t have faith in?

There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It’s not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what’s the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don’t I? 

John wants Windows and therein lies the problem. You can’t write an objective article about Linux if ultimately you want Windows. WINE is great and it is getting better year on year at running Windows based applications but at the same time there are less and less Windows applications that Linux users truly rely on. 

Then we have Photoshop, Illustrator, and the entire Adobe universe. None of it runs on Linux natively and people “have heard” that it runs okay on WINE. This is no good. Then GIMP enters the conversation. Yes, as a Photoshop clone it’s actually pretty good. But the name says it all: hobbled.

The main issue with people using GIMP professionally as opposed to Photoshop is the hype given by people like John.

Why do so many offices around the world run Windows? For decades Windows has been taught in schools as the only operating system and Microsoft Office has been taught in schools as the only office suite.

When you enter the business market place it can therefore be no surprise that big companies run Windows and use Microsoft Office. The people that run the IT departments and their senior managers and directors were all brought up on Windows. They feel safe by using it. It has nothing to do with what works and what doesn’t.

Photoshop is the same. Photoshop has become a commonly known product and web design companies hire people because they have Photoshop skills. The people running these agencies have become too ingrained into thinking that Photoshop is the only way to go.

Things do change though. Microsoft used to dominate everything. Every man and his dog used to use Hotmail but now more and more people use GMail. Do we even need a mail client anymore such as Outlook? I can have a million emails in my GMail account and with a quick keyword search I can find the email I am looking for.

Ironically, Microsoft didn’t need to change anything. Word is just better. Excel is better. PowerPoint is better. It’s that simple.

Is Word better than LibreOffice Writer or is LibreOffice Writer better than Word? Is Android better than Apple? Were Nirvana better than Pearl Jam? Which were better “The Beatles” or “The Rolling Stones”?

Microsoft Word has a lot of flaws that people seem to gloss over. Bullets and numbering for instance are just random. The fonts change, the numbering changes, the indentation changes and for no apparent reason.

The Microsoft ribbon bars have surely just been added to sell training courses because there is no way they are better than menus, toolbars and keyboard shortcuts. Everything we have been used to for 20 years all switched around for no seemingly good reason. I don’t like it when my local supermarket rearranges all the shelves for no apparent reason either. If you want a ribbon bar then there is always Kingsoft Office.

 My wife, for example, likes the Windows way of tracking and saving all changes in a document, and the ability to reclaim old text.

Good for her John. I quite like my computer to boot in under 30 seconds, not display a blue screen saying there has been an error and then spend 3.5 hours reconfiguring itself. Each to their own I guess.

LibreOffice Calc is probably a more difficult sell. IT departments in the business world are commonly underfunded and therefore to get around IT deficiencies every other department in the company has the so called resident Excel expert who knows VBA. Companies big and small have badly designed spreadsheets with poor VBA code, whereby the expert left long ago but nobody dares to change the spreadsheet for fear of breaking it.

Getting companies to clean up these spreadsheets is not a cheap task and therefore abandoning Excel for LibreOffice is probably not going to happen.

If I want a word processor to create e-books, for example, or to organize large texts I use Scrivener. Does Scrivener run on Linux? Maybe someday. I still do the original writing in Word, then run it to Scrivener for organizing and compiling. Linux is not part of the scheme.

It just so happens that Scrivener has arrived on Linux. At the moment it is in Beta but then so was GMail for about 5 years.

Right now Linux on the desktop remains a cheap curiosity, that is kind of fun to play with when you are bored.

I am not suggesting for a minute that Linux has made it on the desktop. To be honest I’m not sure what the big fascination is.

All I know is that for me Linux is easy to install, easy to use and for home use it has served me well for over 10 years.

I haven’t had a virus or any sign of malware in all the time I have used Linux. I only have to switch on my Windows based computer before I am bombarded with an Antivirus package that wants to update itself constantly and scan every single file and process slowing down the whole machine to crawling point.

I can’t reboot my Windows based computer without it wanting to install updates 1 of 63, 2 of 63, 3 of 63 on what appears to be a daily basis.

Free software in Windows doesn’t mean free anymore. Once the bastion of freeware and shareware CNet now seems to supply software riddled with endless toolbars, search tools and PC Optimisers and they aren’t the only download site doing that.

When I run Windows applications at work, every so often I will receive a message saying that the application has stopped working. It doesn’t give a reason, it just tells me it has stopped working. The application then dies and I have to restart it. I’m not saying that I have never had an application crash on me in Linux but it is far less frequent and the reasons why are far more verbose.

I don’t write about Linux to force Windows users into changing their operating system. If somebody is using Windows and they want a change then I try an aid that process.

Why does it have to be one thing or another?. For Windows to survive must Linux die and for Linux to succeed does Windows have to die? Of course not. The people who want to use Linux will and those who don’t won’t.

Thankyou for reading.


  1. My son's "MS vista" has eventually come to a halt and needs re-installation. It took 5 years over which the OS became increasingly troublesome, requiring more and more time to remedy. MS applications are often not compatible from version to version (designed as such? EEE?). The picture five years from new install makes a new machine required. Linux will run on the old machine with little trouble and outlast any newer version of Windows. It's all about MS taxes.

  2. Slightly ignoring JCD, there is so much more to this Munich story about politics, campaigns and so on that has so little to do with MS or Linux. JCD posts click-bait, he admits it, it's what he does (just listen to No Agenda) and he's good for it, I like his work. For this though, Linux Outlaws had a better analysis of it.

    As noted though, does it really matter in the scheme of things? I don't think so, though somewhere some people could've earned a salary on this, so I hope they don't lose out *IF* this ever happens.

  3. Frankly, just ignore him, all he does is rant, I know for having followed his podcast for so long, in the end, the only thing that comes out of it is that he likes status quo, he doesn't like change, he's just become completely rigid and is afraid to learn new things.

    Office is not better than Libreoffice, it's just familiar… you should have heard his rants want Office 2007 came out…

  4. On all fairness seems like another stupid bait click article, however we can ignore that post there is some valuable points about using linux and being productive.
    I have a viceral hate against micro-sos since the time of DRdos vs Msdos..

    that being say i been using some linux distros since 2010, and the problem i have every now and again is that i need to have dual boot and fallback to windows or my computer would be inoperable.
    I detest every minute i use win7 -xp BUT unless i spend a huge amount of time learning linux (and i try to learn as much as i can in my free time) it would be impossible to give up the dual boot
    and to be honest i dont mind to fire win7 to use the odd adobe product every-now and then is fine.
    problem is when i try to do some work and chrome crashes every 30 minutes (and completly freezes my pc) for the last 8 months i need to use win7 or i can't work and i tried to look at forums i installed previous versions on ubuntu /mint but the problem is the same, at point or another linux would break and leave you in the midle of the road UNLESS you know a lot.

    And i really hate to say this and i wish im not using win7 to write this, win is horrible to use slow full of shite but is where i go when linux get to confused, i dont want to but i have no other option. and believe me i TRULY HATE MICROSOFT or APPLE

    • I hate when you got this left shoe problem and people tell you to get a hat to fix it…

      Firefox can't replace Chrome !
      * No Sync To Google (synced on Android devices)
      * Not similar extensions
      * Not the same Dev tools
      * etc.

      Chromium is not Chrome !
      * neither AAC nor H.264 (depends on distib)
      * not tested before released (depends on distib, too)
      * and so on

      Back to the subject.

      I agree with the anonymous guy (?), I had a lot of (and still got some) applications that just crash randomly. I got this feeling that it's more stable on Windows too, but I guess it's just because on Win, I mostly just use my browser and web apps

    • I agree that FF is not what used ti be, and we all moved to chrome,
      Im not losing my faith to use again linux, I will try the last MINT
      Im sure is something to do with GPUs
      all in all my last 8 months i been cursing using windows evwry day
      is a shame i don;t know how to fix stuff.

    • Tried Chrome, went back to Firefox. Right now, I have over 200 (!!) open tabs, with no problem. This is not uncommon when I get into research mode. I do a high level search (on Ixquick), then open tabs based on the "headline" text in the search results. I do that for my basic search and variations, opening dozens of tabs or more within a very short period. Ixquick is great for that – just click (not the multi-step "right-click, open in new tab" of Google). By focusing on search terms first, I find I can locate more variants without having to remember which I've already tried. Then I go through the tabs, closing those that don't apply, and reading or farming as needed. Extremely efficient and it keeps me on track and avoids the distraction of going back to search again and again.

      Didn't even know Dvorak the Dinosaur was still alive. He suffered from irrelevance almost from Day One. PC Mag stood him up as a veneer over a Windows spokesrole, if you ask me. I never did find his advice to be useful or in some cases, trustworthy, but your mileage may vary.

  5. "I quite like my computer to boot in under 30 seconds, not display a blue screen saying there has been an error and then spend 3.5 hours reconfiguring itself."

    You are 10 years late on this… An average user (say, running win7 or more recent, on not-too-exotic hardware) will see less than 1 blue screen per year. Bad experiences can always happen, but it can also happen on linux. And yes, in either case the average user is screwed, windows is not better than linux on that.

    And windows can boot fast, and linux can boot slowly, it depends what you activate at startup. And you can disable startup programs very easily starting with win8.

    And because I believe you forgot one last usual argument: no, you don't need to reboot windows every 2h anymore. Both my windows laptop and my linux one have an average uptime of 7-15 days, and in each case, the reboot is due to routine updates, not to a crash.

    Windows has its problems, sure. A lot of things are superior on linux than windows, sure as well. But microsoft is putting a lot of work into improving its software, including windows and office, and some old issues are now long gone.

    Also, Linux is not always easy to install. Try buying a recent laptop, with recent hardware, and installing a linux right away on it. Good luck. I'm not implying that it is linux's fault, by the way. It is not, and it is wonderful how fast this "unknown land" state disappears… But still, that's what my grandma will see if she tries installing linux on her brand new laptop, and she will say "meh, that sux" [translated :p].

    And last but not least: proprietary software coming to linux is a VERY good thing indeed. If the users want to use it, let them do it without an emulator layer or a dual boot, eh?

    • As a Linux user since 2000, I'll still agree with many of your statements. Win 7 is far and away the best version of Windows yet and in my experience the BSOD is seldom a problem any more. I also agree with your statement on boot times, though I have to say that most 'out-of-the-box' Linux installs I've seen do boot much more quickly than 'out-of-the-box' Win 7 installs.

      Long gone are the days when you had to reboot Windows every few hours, uptime is very good now. However, you still have to reboot after updates, which isn't necessary with Linux. As for uptime, my print server has been up 109 days now. My personal best was a print/file server I had a few years back that was up for 183 days before a NIC died. Now, to be fair, these weren't desktop machines but the uptimes are still pretty good.

      The last install issue I ever had was with an ancient IBM laptop (and this is not an indictment of IBM laptops) where the wireless wasn't recognized. Linux Mint, in particular, will pretty much install on anything, provided some rather modest hardware requirements are met.

      The biggest difference is installation from scratch… to wit:

      1. Start the machine, insert the DVD/USB, boot the machine, click on the 'Install Linux to your hard drive' icon, answer a few dead simple questions, wait 10 minutes or so (depending upon hardware) and you're done. Reboot and you have a fully functioning computer, with most any application you'd need installed by default. Need more? Open the Software Manager, find what you need, and install with a couple of clicks.

      1. Start the machine, insert the DVD, boot the machine, answer a few dead simple questions, wait 20 – 30 minutes or so (depending upon hardware) and you're done.
      2. Insert the driver CD that came with the mainboard and start installing drivers, 10 – 20 minutes.
      3. Insert your MS Office disc and start installing. This takes awhile.
      4. Insert the disc of any other application you want (or download it) and install.
      5. Now, for my personal favorite, install the AV application of your choice. This is the software that is required to make sure the OS you just installed isn't compromised by malware that takes advantage of certain design flaws that have been part of Windows since day one and will very likely never be truly corrected.

      All of the above aside, bottom line, everyone should use the OS and applications that work for them and that they are comfortable with. There's no point in ranting about the pluses and minuses… as the saying goes, life is too short. Install what you want and enjoy!

  6. Nowadays Lync has become the single most application in cooperate environments you can't easily fully replace by open source (pidgin doesn't know encryption on phone calls, no screen sharing) if only you want to.
    Getting rid of virusscannerOS is elseways fully achieveable.

  7. One of the ugly 10+ year-old bugs not mentioned: if the network connection is interrupted for any reason, MS enterprise products stall (you can't type into Word, etc.).

  8. Sadly, many who comment that the Linux desktop is unusable for their work are like a 4-year old being introduced to a new food:

    "Try the broccoli."
    "No, I don't like it."
    "Have you ever had it?"
    "NO, I don't like it!"

    As with the 4-year old, it is hard to have a rational conversation with these people.

  9. In the mid-late 90s I earned 2 computer science degrees. Linux was not mentioned once, not even when we set up and configured servers. I realize that Linux was not nearly as well developed (as far as use on the desktop), but I now know that at that time much of the internet was running on Linux servers. I consider it a major flaw that I was not educated on Linux on the server at the least. I also consider it a flaw in our education system that only M$ products are taught. I personally know of one small town school system that switched to using Linux for everything. The switch was accomplished by a person who only had a high school diploma, and little knowledge of computers, and a science teacher who had never even heard of Linux. This was over 5 years ago. They still use (and are happy with) linux, and are especially happy with the money saved on licensing fees and upgrades (both hardware and software).

    I consider it a serious flaw that all of the schools and colleges in this country are not using Linux instead of M$ products.

    • I earned a Computer Information Systems degree in the late nineties, and Linux was mentioned quite a bit. For one class we needed to do a Linux installation, and for another we had to publish Web pages on a Linux server. I'm not saying that Windows was not more emphasized, but Linux was certainly mentioned.

  10. Linux does start faster and the freeware software for Linux has no malware. Windows freeware is nearly all full of malware.

    I never get viruses on Linux and everything internet wise is at least 3 times more productive on Linux.

    Only thing Linux has truly lacked for home users has been gaming and thanks to Steam that is changing a lot. Just wish the jerks at Netflix would stop blocking Linux for HTML 5.

  11. If you can't accomplish something under Linux, it's not because LInux-tools are not sufficient, it's because you are incompetent at what you do.

    I stopped arguing long ago. If you still use windows, it's your own fault, and you don't deserve any sympathy.

    • Ahahah !

      You can do whatever you want on Linux, as you can do whatever you want with 0 and 1.

      But it takes more time when it's professional computer-aided *whatever*, because Windows leads on the market, softwares are made for this system.

      But yeah, Linux boots faster and Facebook looks the same…

  12. Anyone reading the Dvorak article should realize that he knew he was spouting nonsense when he wrote some of the things he wrote, but he also knew that the comments would lead to page hits. Also, if you know his history over the years, you might realize that he was a big fan of OS/2 and I believe still is a fan of IBM in general. He doesn't love Windows, OS X, or Linux, but he loves stirring up the fans of each of the systems in order to get page hits.

  13. I write software for a living, Visual anything is crap. I find for document writing, LibreOffice is way better then Word, for a simple reason, the menus make sense, MS Word, hid the important stuff, behind some idiot logo. When you spend an hour writing a document, then …. okay where is the %$# save document function? I am an amateur Photographer, and yeah I use GIMP, it's nice and simple, works well, and does everything I need. With a couple of exceptions, but there a scripts and filters to fix those. Heck I can even run a Windows based, photoshop plugin on Gimp on Linux.

    Really the question is becoming, is the desktop still relevant, and will it be relevant, in say 5 years time. Windows has a tiny portion of the phone market, and a slightly larger portion of the tablet market. Now for the AVERAGE desktop user, they run some corporate stuff, email, maybe some web based stuff. Machines like the Raspberry Pi, are getting powerful enough to take over those duties.

  14. I love Linux. I do. Love it. But, I'm sorry… video editing sucks in Linux. There is NOTHING like Sony Vegas or, hell, even Serif Movie Plus or Corel Video Studio in Linux. Nothing with those transitions, effects, video support for weird video files, video quality, animation, etc. Blender is the only thing that's even close and it's a 3-D animation package with a steep learning curve and still doesn't have the filters, transitions, or effects. And it's what I do for a living. Not only that, but there's just are no drivers for a lot of this hardware. So I'm stuck on Windows.

    And I can't run the same online games with my friends… well, unless I play World of Warcraft on WINE… which runs at half the frame rate (~28 fps instead of ~58 fps).

    I wish my USB headset and Logitech G710+ keyboard worked with Linux. I know that's not the fault of Linux… it's the manufacturer. It's pretty amazing having 6 macro keys.

    And no matter how good the GIMP is, it doesn't have the same power that Photoshop has. It doesn't. The effects you can put on a layer or text just aren't the same. Anyone who says differently is someone who is not a graphic artist. And I can tell a (small) difference in the quality. Photoshop's output quality is higher.

    I love Linux. I work on it every day. I'm stuck on Windows.

    To the guy who writes books in emacs and vim… no thanks. That is not better. Once you get past the learning curve, how are you going to insert graphics? And imagine telling your boss you need more time to figure out emacs and that's why it's taking you longer. Ya right. I hope you are kidding.

  15. one thing M$ and supporters don't like is that their own method is being used to undermine M$ cashcow products. In the 80's and 90's M$ produced inferior products but managed to all but destroyed Ibm OS/2 and Novell and lotus 1-2-3 and wordperfect and netscape etc.. purely on price. Once the competing products where off the market M$ jacked up the prices and ensured older versions of their own software wouldn't work on their own older OS's. M$ used the next 10-15 years to stabilize OS and other apps at users expense. The only competition was Apple/mac but they wouldn't comprise on $ they wanted to charge leaving M$ without real competition.
    Fast forward 15+ years, linux OS is solid and free and competing applications eg; libreoffice or gimp etc are good as or even better than M$ products at zero or low cost. In my opinion this IS the real reason why M$ and supporters are inventing reasons to pooh-pooh linux at every opportunity as it impacts their own income and profits…
    By they way = i switched to linux 4 years ago in a business environment with everyone else in the office using windows 7. So far i havent had a reason to boot or use windows in order to use, change and save office docs and other users can open all my docs without a problem..

  16. I've used Linux since 2000. I've never had malware problems. While I still dual boot, Windows just sits there unused. A friend (In his 70's) Bought his first computer (Windows 7). I dealt with his troubles with malware, which despite my hardening it as best I could, was an ongoing problem.
    I had mentioned Linux from time to time until one day he asked if it would run on his computer. I dual booted it. I gave him Linux (Xubuntu) set up to mimic Win 7 layout to help his transition. He has literally never used Windows since, despite having a choice. He often marvels at how much faster it is and that he rarely ever has to ask for advice. No malware of course and his kids and grand-kids can no longer corrupt it.
    I find that most of the problems I encounter with Windows is caused by the younger generations who despite their reputation as tech-savy are the biggest cause of problems. They know enough to be dangerous, especially in front of a Windows computer.

  17. Use whatever system you like. Just don't go bragging about how superior it is over other systems because there are other people on the other end of the fence who are just as happy using those other systems. I use linux. Is it better or worse? To be honest, I don't care. It gives me huge satisfaction and that's what matters for me. I don't need to prove anything. As a matter of fact no ever does.

  18. I am an advanced Linux user. Use it every day. But I agree that I can't use it as my main desktop, which I prefer Windows or Mac.

    My home media center and NAS is a Linux computer (Fedora) running the excellent XBMC. It also runs a pure VNC session with XFCE (Gnome 3 is unusable) for basic graphical stuff that I need to run: Picard for music tagging and management, virt-manager and a very few other stuff.

    On the other hand this Linux box is very useful for me on the command line: I use it everyday tô make advanced stuff as converting a directory tree of FLAC files into MP3 with one single (long) command line.

    Linux is amazing for command line geeks like me. I would strongly recommend regular users (who depend on GUIs) to not use Linux.

  19. Ribbon bars – yep they suck: there is no way they are better – the old-style toolbars were fine.
    I've been sing Kingsoft Office separates because it looks more like Office 2003 – pre-ribbon.

    "I can't reboot my Windows based computer without it wanting to install updates 1 of 63, 2 of 63, 3 of 63 on what appears to be a daily basis."
    Surely you just turn off Automatic Updates. Despite what all the techies say, I have *never* had a problem with this and have been doing this for 14 years.
    I'm about to move to Linux though as Windows 8 is just horrid.

  20. The problem with Linux is persisting immaturity. Something is unfinished but developers rush for the next milestone (Ubuntu 4-10 cycle).
    Also packaging system is a disaster. Sooner or later if you install and update software you finish with broken dependencies or (in worst case) unusable system.
    Another true is lack of choice. Sure, you can pick a color and desktop manager. There it ends. While there are trillions of programs for Windows in every category, in Linux there are usually no more than 2-3.
    For office apps Windows Office is the standard and unfortunately developers of free system hate to accept it. Various open office formats are not a solution and support for native windows formate is miserable (with advanced styles & tables in the document).
    And there are many more reasons.

    Linux missed the chance in the first decade of 2000's and now (unless Microsoft goes under ground) it's too late. I was there, cheered for Linux but after years when 50% of my computer time was fixing problems I've gave up.
    Sure, those were times when Linux had problems with flash and mp3, but if you want another opinion go to and read reviews. I do and don't feel like going back to Linux anytime soon.

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