A Challenge To Canonical, Red Hat, Novell, Linspire, and All Linux Distributors: Put Up or Shut Up

Posted by tuxchick on Nov 28, 2006 1:04 PM EDT
LXer feature; By Carla Schroder
Mail this story
Print this story

Linux isn't going anywhere as long as hardware and multimedia remain out of reach...What are the big Linux distributors like Canonical, Linspire, and Novell doing about this? Packaging closed binary code, and passively waiting for that magical day when hardware vendors bound out of bed with happy cries of "Today is the day we support Linux and open our drivers and codecs! Hurrah!"

[Well, Carla beat me to it. I support her contention 100%, and encourage users to encourage their favorite distro developers to support a combined, coordinated effort to push for Free/Open Source drivers and codecs. - dcparris]

Linux isn't going anywhere as long as hardware and multimedia remain out of reach. It's an interesting paradox- Linux supports more hardware platforms than any other operating system, except perhaps NetBSD, yet its hardware support sucks rocks. This is not a slam on Linux- we all know that the influence of the Evil Empire is powerful, in addition to plain old vendor shortsightedness and laziness. Wireless network gear, modems, graphics cards, and sound cards are all notorious trouble spots. Printers and scanners are royal pains if you don't shop carefully. Sound and video codecs, and streaming media formats are very Windows-centric.

What are the big Linux distributors like Canonical, Linspire, and Novell doing about this? Packaging closed binary code, and passively waiting for that magical day when hardware vendors bound out of bed with happy cries of "Today is the day we support Linux and open our drivers and codecs! Hurrah!" Oh, they might occasionally dispense helpful advice like "Shop carefully! Only buy supported hardware!" Thanks, that helps ever so much.

Normal people like you and me know this is completely loony. We know that hardware vendors are well aware that Linux, Unix, *BSD, and Macintosh users account for sizable chunks of their customer bases. Sure, they publicly say lame things like "We can't be bothered with supporting 1% of the market." If they really believe that non-Windows computer users constitute that small a market share, they're too stupid to be in business. But they're not- they know we're buying their products, and while we complain a lot, they still have our money, so they don't care.

While individual efforts add up, it's far more effective for the big kids to band together and start applying pressure. Just imagine if *buntu, Red Hat, Mandriva, Debian, Novell, Xandros, Linspire, Slackware, GNewSense, Gentoo, Knoppix, SimplyMEPIS, CentOS, and so forth formed an industry consortium for the sole purpose of pressuring hardware vendors to support Linux. As a bonus, the same codebase will support Mac OSX and all those nice Unix boxes, both commercial and free.

A carrot-and-stick approach ought to do the job. The carrot is developer support, community goodwill, and increased sales. The stick is all those nice Linux customers spend their money elsewhere, plus the usual public carping on mail lists, forums, and blogs.

So what do you say, Linux distributors? Does this sound unreasonable? Can you please take a time out from endlessly forking and doing your own things, and finding more excuses to bundle binary proprietary code, and instead work together to resolve this problem?

References

It is difficult to come up with an accurate estimate of true Linux market share for two reasons: the majority of Linux installations are free downloads installed onto re-purposed or dual-booted Windows machines, and there is considerable pressure to squelch any truthful Linux information from ever seeing the light of day. As far as I can tell, no one is even trying to count these. They do track sales figures, and these are quite interesting:
Linux server revenue exceeded $1.4 billion in quarterly factory revenue in 2Q05 as Linux server revenues showed 45.1% growth, the fastest rate of growth since 2Q04. Linux servers represented 11.5% of overall quarterly server revenue - reaching an all-time high.
I tip my hat to any hardware vendor who can kiss off $1.4 billion of quarterly revenues as too trivial to bother with.

But, you say, those are servers. Everyone knows that Windows servers are teh suck, and Real Admins run Linux, Free/Net/OpenBSD, Unix, or Solaris. Real Admins don't need sissy stuff like fancy video or multimedia. That's for dumb ole end lusers.

OK, never mind that multimedia and gaming devs and marketing folks need all the fancy multimedia bells and whistles. I can't cite any fancy studies, but I'll bet a case of your favorite beverage that Linux at least equals Apple on the desktop. I think it exceeds it, and it is indisputably growing.

Apple's Macintosh market share soars 16 percent. "Like IDC, Gartner has the top four players in the U.S. PC market as Dell (32 percent), HP (18.9 percent), Gateway (6.2 percent) and Apple (4.6 percent).
Worldwide Server Market Shows Growing IT Investment Across Platforms, According to IDC

  Nav
» Read more about: Story Type: Editorial, LXer Features; Groups: Community, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, GNOME, GNU, Kernel, Linspire, Linux, Mandriva, Red Hat, Slackware, Sun, SUSE, Ubuntu, Xandros

« Return to the newswire homepage

Subject Topic Starter Replies Views Last Post
Nice, but it needs more numbers Sander_Marechal 24 1,411 Nov 30, 2006 3:51 PM
gNewSense Andreas 8 1,317 Nov 29, 2006 6:55 AM

You cannot post until you login.