Linux Conformity Re-visited

By Deane Barker on September 18, 2005

“He made the trains run on time…”: I wrote this post three years ago today. I still believe that this is one of the biggest barriers to Linux adoption.

There was a saying about Benito Mussolini back in the forties. He made have been a ruthless dictator, but he made the trains run on time.[…] After working with Linux for a few days, this is my feeling about Microsoft. They may be ruthless monopolists, but they have a certain standard for software uniformity and usability that’s hard to beat.

I now wait patiently for Joe to give me a Penguin-fueled beatdown.

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  1. I didn’t say anything on your earlier post, because, as I remember, I was forced to agree.

    However, I think you’ll find that this has changed for modern Linux desktops. GNOME, and to a slightly lesser degree, KDE, have spent a lot of time and effort on usability and making things consistent.

    GNOME has done an especially good job of simplifying things down. Modern GNOME is consistent and integrated together in a way that in some ways have even surpassed OS X (and before the Mac folks jump in, open up iTunes 5, Finder, and Mail, and take a look at them. Apple takes little heed of their own Human Interface Guidelines).

    KDE is pretty consistent as well. All of the software that comes with KDE has a consistent look, feel, and behavior. Thanks in large part to the project, GNOME and KDE apps interoperate pretty well, to boot.

    Sure, there’s a lot of software out there in the Linux world that doesn’t fall in with either of these two. But the same is true on the Windows side. iTunes, WinAmp, Photoshop Album, and even MS Office all eschew the normal widget sets and include their own custom stuff. But these are still useful apps. They’re internally consistent and we’ve taken the time to learn to use them because they provide value.

    I think the barrier at this point is largely what you’re used to. A lot of people state that Linux isn’t ready for the desktop because it is different from Windows. Well, OS X is different from Windows, and that does pretty well. If there’s anything keeping it off the desktop, I’d say it has more to do with infrastructure (packaging, software updates, support) and sheer inertia than it does with usability.

    Anyway, Deane, you decided you hate OS X as well. My guess is that’s because it’s different from Windows, and you have to relearn a few things to use it (like the behavior of the *$#! Home key).

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