What's your opinion on Linux?

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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:32 am

Cacodemon345 wrote:What's holding Linux from gaining popularity, through?

Mostly, inertia. Microsoft got their foot in the door with DOS and Windows before Linux was really a thing. They attracted users and developers, hobbyists, business professionals, and gamers. As the viability of alternatives grew (Linux, OS/2, etc), Microsoft used their clout to push for proprietary APIs while also making sure as many prebuilt computers as possible came with a copy of DOS and/or Windows (at one point, they even tried to make it illegal to sell a PC without Windows, claiming it was sufficient for users and anyone that wanted an alternative was up to no good). Despite the existence of cross-platform standards, Microsoft made sure it was difficult to move apps away from Windows.

These days, the general lack of apps and games is what keeps the user count low. Wine is too finicky to rely on (especially for new releases), and most users just want something that'll do what they need, which often means Windows (sometimes OSX, for stuff like video editing). Too few developers release their stuff on Linux because there's not that many users, and there's not many users because there's not much stuff released for it.

Not to say Linux doesn't have actual issues, just about every OS does, but I'd say the most major issues it has or has had comes down to lack of users and developers.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Cacodemon345 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:36 am

I would say same for Windows Phone too. It had great potential, but Google stepped in just in the fucking time and turned Windows Phone down quickly.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Graf Zahl » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:01 pm

Chris wrote:
Cacodemon345 wrote:What's holding Linux from gaining popularity, through?

Mostly, inertia.


Nah. If it was just that it'd slowly pick up some momentum, but it doesn't.

I think that Kinsie pretty much hits the nail on its head.
But what compounds the problems is that nearly every time a Linux user enters such discussions they just dismiss the problems and blame it on external factors rather than potential issues with the product itself.
Which gives a pretty devastating outlook to a newcomer.

Linux cannot and will not succeed on the desktop if it feels like a product that's being made by geeks and apparently made for geeks.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Rachael » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:09 pm

Newer desktop environments are supposed to fix that problem (hopefully).

For example - Cinnamon is a very Windows-like desktop shell that is very intuitive and easy to use. Its biggest issue, however, is it is hugely resource consuming unless you have a sufficient GPU. And if you do, then it's snappy and fast. Obviously the best way to use it is to use the distribution designed for it - Linux Mint - but other distros do support it.

I guess the only way to know if Cinnamon (or any other DE) really will help with this though, is if somebody who's computer illiterate actually tries it and sees. Linux still has a number of other issues, but seeing as how an intuitive GUI was one of the biggest ones, I think that should help address it.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Cacodemon345 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:50 pm

I would assume that it is the lack of multilingual support in its bundled software.
Edit: I still find Linux to be lacking in areas such as native apps and games. That's the reason why it can't get popular...
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Graf Zahl » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:01 pm

Please stop this language nonsense. It has been proven to be hogwash before and you still repeat it. In reality you will find unlocalizable or badly localized software for all operating systems.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Cacodemon345 » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:04 pm

Windows's software that come in packed are localized properly. And I talked about third-party software that comes with Linux, not first party ones which are localized properly AFAIK. I'm not going to repeat it again.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby wildweasel » Tue Jun 05, 2018 2:50 pm

Cacodemon345 wrote:Windows's software that come in packed are localized properly. And I talked about third-party software that comes with Linux, not first party ones which are localized properly AFAIK. I'm not going to repeat it again.

I'm not exactly a professional at this, but it feels like you're pulling excuses out of your posterior here. You want to be right, no matter what, and can't stand it when someone else with a different experience from you has an opinion that doesn't mesh with your view. You're phrasing your posts in a way that suggests that you want to dominate the conversation, so that anybody that reads it thinks you're the correct one and everybody that disagrees is the "bad guy." Well, that's not going to work here.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Matt » Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:13 pm

Trying the various Chinese input methods available on Debian I get the impression they're primarily made for scholars or linguists who want to switch regularly between many different input methods and languages - not that good for setting up a fire-and-forget rig for a pre-Boomer relative who only knows one Chinese IME and English and would have no use for the other zillion options.

Then again, for this relative I'm still looking for something that works on 64-bit and is exactly identical to Twinbridge, so........
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Chris » Tue Jun 05, 2018 10:55 pm

Graf Zahl wrote:But what compounds the problems is that nearly every time a Linux user enters such discussions they just dismiss the problems and blame it on external factors rather than potential issues with the product itself.

Nor does it help to suggest that the only reason Linux has trouble picking up traction is solely because of itself, and nothing to do with the tactics employed against it by third parties who have an interest in seeing it not gain traction.

I'm not saying Linux doesn't have problems that are of its own making, nor am I saying the problems it inherited because of external factors aren't things it has to contend with regardless. But to the question of what's holding it back from gaining popularity, you can't ignore the effect of inertia. It's hard to attract users without developers supporting it with their favorite apps, and it's hard to get developers to support it without enough users to buy their apps on it. This is the core problem, and something I've seen recounted by a number of developers and users alike; I've seen many stories of people in both groups who want to support/use Linux but can't justify it due to the lack of the other being there first.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Cacodemon345 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:12 am

Then where's that incentive to support Linux? There aren't even enough amount of apps and games for it and you have to compile each and every software made for it if you want to test out builds or download an update for it that aren't simply available on repos.

The inertia effect actually applies to the smartphone OS market too. Google quickly grabbed out a lot of popularity by using Android. There was a lot of manufacturers who made devices running Android and sold it out to people, crushing the competition of iOS and Windows Phone. The reason for the stagnation of those other smartphone OS is same as Linux; the lack of developers and the lack of sufficient users.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Graf Zahl » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:51 am

Inertia may be part of the problem, but it's only a minor part.
Inertia would slow down adoption, not totally stall it.
But since the Linux market share does not improve at all it strongly suggests that it doesn't even catch on with the people who actually try it.

And that definitely hints at something being wrong with the product. I talked with a Linux developer this morning about these things. He's not some of those true believers but a down to earth type who acknowledges that the platform is not perfect. His biggest issue with Linux and Unix development in general is that 'a separate tool for every task' attitude that filters down to libraries as well.
For task A you need library X installed which is not part of the OS itself
For task B you need library Y installed which is also not part of the OS itself
Whereas on Windows and macOS much of this functionality is being provided by the system itself.
What this boils down to, according to him, is, that on those other OSs you got a mostly homogenic API to do stuff, including documentation, but in the Linux/Unix world each library is written by different people, to different coding standards, with different API conventions and different documentation quality.

A good example here would be the rendering of True Type fonts. I already had looked into this myself out of interest if this could be added to GZDoom. On both Windows and macOS it is relatively straightforward to set this up to retrieve the data from the OS, but I still have no idea how to do this on Linux. I had sifted through the docs of countless libraries that are supposed to be used here but no matter how I approach it the effort to make it work is disproportionately large compared to some simple calls to a system provided font creation and text rendering function. Remember: It's not just using FreeType to decode some glyphs but also intelligent font substitution for non-latin scripts or character substitution like ligatures, etc. You get all these functions by default on Windows and macOS and can be relatively sure to get a properly rendered text from the system (unless, of course, you use some broken or incomplete font that doesn't play nice.) But on Linux? You cannot count the virtual question marks floating over my head.

And to be blunt: If the entire OS is like that it will always come up short with some software solutions.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Chris » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:23 am

Graf Zahl wrote:And that definitely hints at something being wrong with the product. I talked with a Linux developer this morning about these things. He's not some of those true believers but a down to earth type who acknowledges that the platform is not perfect. His biggest issue with Linux and Unix development in general is that 'a separate tool for every task' attitude that filters down to libraries as well.
For task A you need library X installed which is not part of the OS itself
For task B you need library Y installed which is also not part of the OS itself
Whereas on Windows and macOS much of this functionality is being provided by the system itself.
What this boils down to, according to him, is, that on those other OSs you got a mostly homogenic API to do stuff, including documentation, but in the Linux/Unix world each library is written by different people, to different coding standards, with different API conventions and different documentation quality.

It shouldn't be a surprise that different developers favor different styles of development. Just as he prefers everything be pre-supplied by the OS, I don't like the idea that I should prefer what the OS provides.

In my own experience, relying on OS-provided APIs and services has caused me no end in headaches. With OpenAL Soft, for instance, I have to rely on MSVC support for it to work on Windows because it's the option provided by Microsoft that everyone uses. But because I don't use C++ as Microsoft wants me to, I can't rely on a nearly-20-year-old C standard and have to make hack after hack to ensure proper Windows compatibility (and because it's a monolithic blob, it's not really an option to swap out just the compiler and still use the IDE). FFmpeg had to develop their own preprocessor to translate their C99 code to MSVC-compatible C to support Windows. Similarly, having tried to use the "OS"-provided APIs for UIs (X11 on Linux, WinAPI on Windows) it's a horrible experience, and am immensely grateful to have the option of using Qt or SDL in its place, which greatly simplifies it for their intended tasks while enabling support for many more platforms.

Though whether his or my anecdote is the prevailing opinion, I couldn't say, nor could I say if the opinion is strong enough to drive developers away from Linux in spite of financial gain. Saying that, sure, there is room for improvement. Having some kind of large API guide ala MSDN or Apple's developer documentation for the typically-used (cross-platform) solutions would be nice. Even if the described libs/functions aren't The Best Way(c), as long as they're easily available and functional it'd be a good starting point.

A good example here would be the rendering of True Type fonts. I already had looked into this myself out of interest if this could be added to GZDoom. On both Windows and macOS it is relatively straightforward to set this up to retrieve the data from the OS, but I still have no idea how to do this on Linux. I had sifted through the docs of countless libraries that are supposed to be used here but no matter how I approach it the effort to make it work is disproportionately large compared to some simple calls to a system provided font creation and text rendering function. Remember: It's not just using FreeType to decode some glyphs but also intelligent font substitution for non-latin scripts or character substitution like ligatures, etc. You get all these functions by default on Windows and macOS and can be relatively sure to get a properly rendered text from the system (unless, of course, you use some broken or incomplete font that doesn't play nice.) But on Linux? You cannot count the virtual question marks floating over my head.

In this case, I'm even more clueless than you. I've never had to directly deal with rendering True Type fonts before. But I guess given the history of GUIs on Linux and how they've grown over time, I shouldn't be surprised this particular point is where it would flounder. X itself hasn't been great with True Type fonts, so toolkits like Qt or GTK pick up the slack. If you aren't using a GUI toolkit and SDL's TTF addon is inadequate, one can hope that Wayland will help going forward.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby Graf Zahl » Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:48 am

Chris wrote:It shouldn't be a surprise that different developers favor different styles of development. Just as he prefers everything be pre-supplied by the OS, I don't like the idea that I should prefer what the OS provides.



I think you misunderstood what this was about.
On Windows and Mac the OS provides the facilities so any middleware is on even ground, but it ultimately calls down to the system API as well which ensures that everything is consistent.

But once the middleware libraries become the place where the real work is done there's a growing risk of inconsistencies.


Chris wrote:In this case, I'm even more clueless than you. I've never had to directly deal with rendering True Type fonts before. But I guess given the history of GUIs on Linux and how they've grown over time, I shouldn't be surprised this particular point is where it would flounder. X itself hasn't been great with True Type fonts, so toolkits like Qt or GTK pick up the slack. If you aren't using a GUI toolkit and SDL's TTF addon is inadequate, one can hope that Wayland will help going forward.


Well, at least I'm not the only one having problems here.
Which makes me wonder why X is still a thing if it's this far behind current technology.
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Re: What's your opinion on Linux?

Postby wildweasel » Wed Jun 06, 2018 10:12 am

Graf Zahl wrote:What this boils down to, according to him, is, that on those other OSs you got a mostly homogenic API to do stuff, including documentation

What I find particularly amusing about this is that, when trying to get help about a given Linux program or command, there's actually two ways to do so, Help and Man, and often times they'll both give you completely different information, and occasionally neither of which will actually tell you what you need to know.

(It's fun to try getting "help" on "man", and "man" on "help".)
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