Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Killed the Linux Desktop?

Miguel de Icaza wrote What Killed the Linux Desktop and I find it hilarious that it's dated just yesterday. These two paragraphs appear near the end, separated by just two other paragraphs:

"Many hackers moved to OSX. It was a good looking Unix, with working audio, PDF viewers, working video drivers, codecs for watching movies and at the end of the day, a very pleasant system to use. Many exchanged absolute configurability of their system for a stable system."

"So Linux was left with idealists that wanted to design the best possible system without having to worry about boring details like support and backwards compatibility."

I really can't understand how "the best possible system" could not have working audio, video or PDF viewers. The next paragraph also gets something fundamental wrong:

"Meanwhile, you can still run the 2001 Photoshop that came when XP was launched on Windows 8. And you can still run your old OSX apps on Mountain Lion."

Turns out that's not so true. See in this timeframe Apple moved macs from PPC to Intel chips, a huge change. They included a binary compatibility layer that made the transition fairly seamless. In Lion, they removed that layer. Old PPC code doesn't run on Lion or Mountain Lion. Some things broke, probably most famously Quicken, but still Apple moved on (and Quicken ultimately got repaired).