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Linux Wasn't Too Popular At GDC 2014

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  • #16
    I agree, it would have been totally unrealistic to think that it is going to be the #1 topic or whatever. We got more great news this week than I expected. SteamOS/Steam Machines are not even out yet. Let's wait a year and then look at how much interest there is when things are actually starting to get serious. We have gone from "it would be cool to have a game on Linux" to "omg the next-gen CryEngine with its OpenGL 4.3 renderer might not be perfectly ported".

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    • #17
      Originally posted by d2kx View Post
      We have gone from "it would be cool to have a game on Linux" to "omg the next-gen CryEngine with its OpenGL 4.3 renderer might not be perfectly ported".
      ok, fhat should become official meme for achievement description

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Robsteady View Post
        Umm... actually Windows became top dog because it was the cheapest option there was.
        Windows is top because "normal people" don't install operating systems. They buy pre-installed systems from the store. And due to economies of scale, off-the-shelf hardware is generally cheaper when it comes from large corporations that make and sell millions of units, rather than bespoke little computer stores. Buyers also have more trust for systems built by large manufacturers due to better branding. So the market naturally becomes dominated by a few large manufacturers. These manufacturers can be easily controlled by Microsoft - by using OEM contracts to literally force them into offering Windows-only systems, or by imposing severe financial penalties for any manufacturer who might consider shipping a non-Windows system.

        Android is the commercially successful Linux. What did it have that others didn't? It was a) pre-installed on devices (normal people buy devices, not operating systems), and b) had the Google brand, which most people like, and c) was open source, so there was an escape route for manufacturers (unlike the PC desktop). Large companies like Samsung realised that in the event of Google trying to screw them over MS style, and taking the majority of the profits, they could break away and still sell phones with the Android stack (except for Google apps, which they could replace with their own). Ceding control of the platform to any individual part that comes from only one supplier leads ultimately to the vast majority of profits flowing to that supplier, rather than to the system manufacturer (the PC desktop industry). Over the long term that leads to stagnation of the market, since manufacturers are unable to generate sufficient profit margins to justify a high investment in research, development and design - which is why Intel & MS, who make the most profit from sales of PCs, have realised they must contribute to the costs of product development, or else the market will continue to stagnate, while manufacturers on other platforms can take more of the profit, and hence invest more heavily in product design and development.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by chrisb View Post
          Windows is top because "normal people" don't install operating systems. They buy pre-installed systems from the store.
          A very simple example of this problem: where can I buy a Red Hat or Ubuntu laptop that is supported (all hardware works, updates don't break etc.)? You can't. You can buy a laptop from a third party, but they have no control over the distribution, Red Hat and Ubuntu won't test new software on that hardware, and updates might break on it. The solution to this problem is to establish store.ubuntu.com and store.redhat.com and sell hardware, and make sure that everything works - tasks like playing mp3s, video, web browsing on popular sites (YouTube, Facebook etc.), it all needs to work without any issues. Test continually, make sure that updates never, ever cause a regression on supported hardware. When customers have issues, fix those issues. Make hardware that your developers are actually going to use - they are the ones who will likely notice any issues first, and the motivation to fix will be much higher when the issue affects them. Don't make crap hardware - make stuff that people actually want to own. (If you sell hardware with your own operating system, but all your developers are using OS X on Macbooks, then you're doing something wrong). When I say make hardware, I don't mean that Red Hat and Canonical need to actually build their own systems, they can subcontract it out, design it themselves or hold a competition, or approve existing hardware, it doesn't matter - what matters is that a user can go to the store, and buy hardware that will work without any issues, and know that it will be supported with working updates and that any problems will get quickly fixed.

          Chrome OS got 21% of US laptop sales last year, so it's not impossible to introduce a new operating system and be a success, even now. If Red Hat or Ubuntu had done the same thing years ago, perhaps we'd be reading now that they had 21% of the market (or likely higher, given that desktop Linux is more functional offline than Chrome OS).

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          • #20
            Originally posted by FourDMusic View Post
            I disagree. I have been able to get many of my non-technical friends to switch to Linux or at least dual boot with <Linux> as their primary distro. This include my sister, who has a Psychology degree and teaches english to non-english speaks; I have a friend who advises local governments on environmental issues. They use Arch and Kubuntu, respectively. I want to emphasize that they are completely comfortable with using Linux.
            I have installed Ubuntu in over 50 laptops and PCs and most of them single boot. For the vast majority of the average user Linux offers much more than they will ever need. It doesn't matter though. It is still a forbidden word for 90% of the people.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by chrisb View Post
              A very simple example of this problem: where can I buy a Red Hat or Ubuntu laptop that is supported (all hardware works, updates don't break etc.)? You can't. You can buy a laptop from a third party, but they have no control over the distribution, Red Hat and Ubuntu won't test new software on that hardware, and updates might break on it. The solution to this problem is to establish store.ubuntu.com and store.redhat.com and sell hardware, and make sure that everything works - tasks like playing mp3s, video, web browsing on popular sites (YouTube, Facebook etc.), it all needs to work without any issues. Test continually, make sure that updates never, ever cause a regression on supported hardware. When customers have issues, fix those issues. Make hardware that your developers are actually going to use - they are the ones who will likely notice any issues first, and the motivation to fix will be much higher when the issue affects them. Don't make crap hardware - make stuff that people actually want to own. (If you sell hardware with your own operating system, but all your developers are using OS X on Macbooks, then you're doing something wrong). When I say make hardware, I don't mean that Red Hat and Canonical need to actually build their own systems, they can subcontract it out, design it themselves or hold a competition, or approve existing hardware, it doesn't matter - what matters is that a user can go to the store, and buy hardware that will work without any issues, and know that it will be supported with working updates and that any problems will get quickly fixed.

              Chrome OS got 21% of US laptop sales last year, so it's not impossible to introduce a new operating system and be a success, even now. If Red Hat or Ubuntu had done the same thing years ago, perhaps we'd be reading now that they had 21% of the market (or likely higher, given that desktop Linux is more functional offline than Chrome OS).
              ChromeOS doesn't suffer as linux does. linux is currently suffering one great sickness, branding competition where linux brand is the last thing on the list of brands they are presenting. sometimes i can't help my self but to think that ubuntu and gnome branding nonsense is nothing but successful MS plot how to combat linux.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by chrisb View Post
                When I say make hardware, I don't mean that Red Hat and Canonical need to actually build their own systems, they can subcontract it out, design it themselves or hold a competition, or approve existing hardware, it doesn't matter - what matters is that a user can go to the store, and buy hardware that will work without any issues, and know that it will be supported with working updates and that any problems will get quickly fixed.
                The cool/crazy part about this statement is that this is the whole idea behind SteamOS and the Steam Machines. Valve intends to "certify" certain hardware and to have it rated as to how well it will perform.

                And as a reference, people didn't buy computers with Windows on it when it was first released. I don't think people bought computers with Windows pre-installed until Windows 95 came out which was actually version 4 by certain standards. So if you want to do a comparison, the Linux kernel is still in version 3, so we've got some time.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Robsteady View Post
                  And as a reference, people didn't buy computers with Windows on it when it was first released. I don't think people bought computers with Windows pre-installed until Windows 95 came out which was actually version 4 by certain standards.
                  I remember buying a computer with Windows 3.1 in 1993, at the time the store was full of Windows 3.1 PCs and nothing else. Apparently it's still used in some legacy embedded systems.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by chrisb View Post
                    A very simple example of this problem: where can I buy a Red Hat or Ubuntu laptop that is supported (all hardware works, updates don't break etc.)? You can't.
                    Implying Windows updates never break.

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                    • #25
                      Many gamers build their PCs from scratch using carefully chosen components, so the more expensive the PC, the smaller the relative cost of a Windows licence.

                      For businesses, the cost of a PC with Windows and Office is generally small compared to the salary of the employee using that computer.

                      It's only really people at home buying cheap PCs where the cost of a full Windows and MS Office licence is significant and where OSS could save a significant proportion of the overall cost of the computer. For many of these people, the only thing they know is Windows and MS Office. If they want to play games, chances are they'll have a console, but perhaps this is where the Steam Box could win, to "smuggle" linux into the home?

                      I am still sad to think of how Sony stole linux functionality from my PS3.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by curaga View Post
                        Implying Windows updates never break.
                        No. I was implying that updates for curated systems, like OS X on a MacBook or Chrome OS on a Chromebook, will break less often than updates of Ubuntu or Red Hat on generic PC hardware. And when something does break on a curated system, it is more likely to be fixed. I don't think either of those claims is particularly controversial.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by chrisb View Post
                          No. I was implying that updates for curated systems, like OS X on a MacBook or Chrome OS on a Chromebook, will break less often than updates of Ubuntu or Red Hat on generic PC hardware. And when something does break on a curated system, it is more likely to be fixed. I don't think either of those claims is particularly controversial.
                          Certainly, but those both are limited hardware models. If there was a demand for such, someone would have started to sell those. Especially as many linux users are tinkerers, it's hard to see much of a market for those.

                          The value-add of putting it together and testing would be discounted as a "brand tax" by the opinion makers, further making it harder to sell such.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by curaga View Post
                            Certainly, but those both are limited hardware models. If there was a demand for such, someone would have started to sell those.
                            The problem is that this isn't something that a small third party can do effectively. It needs to be done by one of the large, popular distributions to be successful. The market isn't Linux tinkerers, it is normal people, businesses etc. - a similar market to the one that Google is aiming at with Chromebooks. Google producing a custom Linux desktop that runs Chrome apps and taking 21% of the US laptop market in ~24 months is a stong indicator that a similar focus by Red Hat or Canonical could've been successful if it were well executed. To be fair, Canonical's current strategy for mobile does seem to be along those lines. The Linux desktop will not be mainstream until people can buy one at their local store.

                            Chromebook laptops outsold Macbooks in the US in 2013. Think about that for a moment. Very few people have acknowledged the significance of a Linux desktop platform, introduced in only 2011, outselling the darling of the laptop industry. It could be a flash in the pan ala netbooks, or it could be the sign of a monumental change to come.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by chrisb View Post
                              I remember buying a computer with Windows 3.1 in 1993, at the time the store was full of Windows 3.1 PCs and nothing else. Apparently it's still used in some legacy embedded systems.
                              Yeah. A LOT of stuff needs the cooperatively multithreaded model that died in Win95. The guaranteed scheduling makes Win 3.1 better for devices with strict deadline requirements. I still work on one at work, for much the same reason [and the cost of doing a SW port in this day and age]

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                              • #30
                                If all future UE-based, Source-based, and CryEngine-based games provide Linux versions that will be more than enough for the platform to take off. So I think this GDC was quite good despite being less than what we hope for.

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