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Thursday, 30 August 2012 10:15

Wired claims Apple killed Linux

Written by Nick Farrell



Tame Apple press gets ahead of itself

For a while now Wired has been on my list of magazines which sacrifice their credibility in favour of plugging Apple gear. This morning it managed a new low claiming that Linux on the desktop was killed by Apple's superior OS X.

That is right, Linux never made it to the desktop because Jobs' Mob got their first. This will be news to the open sauce community which is pretty sure it would have noticed sudden conversions to proprietary systems. Wired uses as its proof an interview with a bloke called Miguel de Icaza who was one of the original creators of GNOME. In case you came in late, GNOME has been on the shitlist of many Linux users for making itself pretty much bloated and unusable. Mention GNOME to an open sauce community member and you have to be ready to dodge the spit.

But De Icaza said that Linux lost to OS X long before GNOME became rubbish because a large portion of the software developers that could have taken Linux to greater heights defected to OSX. Developers behind the toolkits used to build graphical Linux applications didn’t do a good enough job ensuring backward compatibility between different versions of their APIs. He said that OS X did a much better job of ensuring backward compatibility. At the same time development was shifting to the web and Open source on the desktop became a lot less important than open source on the server. Meanwhile, he claims, OS X provided a good enough Unix-like environment that programmers could develop on a Mac and then deploy to a Linux server. Those Linux developers who used to be interested in Open Sauce are now interested in Open Web, he claimed.

Wired called up another bit of evidence from Stormy Peters, who also happens to be connected to GNOME. But she said her focus is now on the open web, probably because she is working on the Open Web for Mozilla. Peters said that Linux desktop was also crushed by the mobile web which any fool will tell you was created by Apple. So two people with connections to a largely failed Linux interface claim that Open Saucers are dumping their Linux desktops for a place in Jobs' Mob's Walled Garden of Delights. Linux is staying on the server, which we already knew, but Apple is now the desktop of choice for Open Saucers.

If this story was true, then you would be seeing a fundamental shift in the Open Sauce philosophy, which seems to indicate that Wired has not really got a clue what it is about. Most Open Saucers feel guilty installing the odd proprietary driver let alone one of the most proprietary operating systems in the world. Equally it would require an Open Saucer to reject tinkering in favour of letting a company make most of their decisions. In terms of religion this is like a Bible belt fundamentalist Christian converting to Islam and living in Tehran – it is possible but incredibly unlikely.

Linux on the desktop was never that popular, but that was mostly because it always seemed to trail behind Windows. It also never had the backing of commercial software companies which meant that even the most loyal Open Sourcer had to use a dual boot if they wanted to play with serious business software.

There is equally no proof that Apple has been doing that well on the desktop either. According to desktop market share estimates from Net Applications, Linux soared to 1.41 percent share at the end of 2011. Apple has six percent, which is only a single per cent rise than the five percent that the company has held for years. For Wired to be correct, the numbers of Linux on the desktop users should be dropping while Apple's use grows. What we are seeing is that Apple and Linux use is growing, slightly, at Microsoft's expense. Nothing to see here, move on please.

Nick Farrell

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