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Friday, March 8, 2013

A response to Miguel De Icaza switch to a Mac

Hello guys, someone pointed me to an article tonight where Miguel De Icaza as this person pointed out "blasted the Linux desktop".  Well, I found no blasting but he brought up some interesting points.  Since we produce a desktop oriented Linux distribution.  I wanted to comment on a few of those issues.  Now I want to put in two caveats before I continue:

1.  I personally dont care what OS Miguel decides he wants to use.  He is more than capable of choosing his products and I respect him for it.  even though Xamarin doesnt have a Linux release of their products I personally and professionally have nothing against Miguel.  The Mac OS is an OK operating system in my opinion and is not a stellar end all/be all of the computer world.  I wouldnt even call it a shining star but to each their own.  My wife owns a Mac and so far she seems to like it, the Mac OS is just not for me.  In my opinion the Mac OS got to be unusable around 10.3.

2.  I dont want to hear from Miguel saying someone posted on his blog that I called him out.  Thats not what Im responding to.  I have tremendous respect for Miguel and have followed his work since he was in Mexico.  So Im not trying to start a web battle with Miguel, Im just responding to his comments.  We are human beings and we have that right to agree to disagree.

So in terms of desktop Linux where do I disagree.

" Computing-wise that three week vacation turned out to be very relaxing. Machine would suspend and resume without problem, WiFi just worked, audio did not stop working, I spend three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation that my ThinkPad suffered."

First, I would like to know what distribution Miguel used because really, these complaints he had have not happened to me since Red Hat 9.  as for recompiling the kernel, my question is why would you have to do that on your vacation.  I can imagine the look on my wifes face if I told her, "I have to recompile my kernel baby, go have fun without me"  uh uh, that wouldnt be happening but, myself and Miguel we are that rare breed where we like to recompile our own kernels and as software developers our needs are different than average users.  But, the average user while on vacation simply checks e-mail, looks for directions, downloads photos, listens to Music and maybe Skype with the folks at home and all that can be done uninterrupted with an OS4 or Linux desktop system and I doubt very much that the average user would need to recompile their kernels or fix audio bugs from some Alpha version distribution to do it.

" While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked."

Thats why we have repositories that house thousands of software titles and that keep getting better and more keep getting added.  I've never begged I usually package it myself or have someone on my team do it.  But as for the toolchain and userland, I believe the Mac has the same toolchain and userland tools available.  Anyway,

" To me, the fragmentation of Linux as a platform, the multiple incompatible distros, and the incompatibilities across versions of the same distro were my Three Mile Island/Chernobyl."

This is where I get interested personally.  I fundamentally disagree with Miguel on this.  I agree that there is fragmentation across different distributions but the fragmentation happens between Red Hat based distros and Debian based distributions, where there are tremendous differences in the style and approach of those distributions.  I test software ,before I release, on OS4, Debian, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu.  Most of the time when I see a package for a Debian based distribution it usually is targeted towards multiple Debian based distributions where as in the Red Hat world, no.  In the Red Hat world there is tremendous fragmentation as RHEL packages wont work on SUSE Linux or even CentOS or Oracle Linux.  You can try but its hit or miss.  In that respect Apple is more fragmented than the Linux world.  Apps written for the iOS will not run on OS X or vice versa.  You want to see fragmentation, I remember in the old days where Novell UnixWare packages wouldnt run on OpenServer.  Hewlett Packard HP-UX packages wouldnt run on HP's Tru64 Unix and Suns SunOS packages wouldnt run on Solaris and those were different UNIX based products that were created and sold by their respective companies.  Now, with OS4 we try to make it as simple for the user to upgrade as possible that way if a product is discontinued, if they rely on that product it wont quit working in later versions.  But, Miguel working for Novell was using SUSE Linux which comes from the Red Hat world where Red Hat not only loathes and discourages compatibility, they work their asses off to make sure they arent compatible with anything else.

" Even during all of my dogfooding and Linux advocacy days, whenever I had to recommend recommended a computer to a single new user, I recommended a Mac. And whenever I gave away computer gifts to friends and family, it was always a Mac. Linux just never managed to cross the desktop chasm. "

I never recommend Apple products and I never will.  Whenever I gift a tablet or a phone it runs Android and if I gift a computer it runs OS4 OpenDesktop, and I might add that Im proud that those people that have gotten computers from me have ever turned around and installed Windows.  They still run OS4 till this day.  Linux has never crossed the desktop chasm because of a few reasons.  First and foremost, we cant seem to get preinstalled and if we are preinstalled its usually on hardware we resell.  The major OEMs are so scared of pissing off Microsoft. Second, there was no REAL desktop alternatives in the Linux space that were produced by major companies.  And the useful ones were targeted towards the server.  But that has changed.  With OS4 OpenDesktop and others involved in the space, there are a handful of decent desktop friendly Linux distributions.  OS4, PCLinuxOS, Sabyon, and Ubuntu.  The only ones that come to mind.  Third, advocacy and community relations.  No one wanted to work with commercial companies.  If it wasnt to be open sourced there were no deals to be made.  In some ways the community was its own worst enemy.

With the state of Linux desktop technologies, we feel not only is Linux a viable desktop alternative but in some ways superior to the Mac and to Windows.

When I got that e-mail that Miguel had trashed the Linux desktop, I was expecting a passionate pages long rant.  But to me its just a guy that went with what he thinks is the best choice.  Nothing really to get all up in arms about.  But Miguel in case you read this, Xamarin, Linux c'mon guys get it out.

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