Aug 052013

Article from Tcat Houser editor-in-chief of

Philosophies on how to approach things in life, for example Open Source Versus Closed, run in cycles. In the 1970s hobbyists would be carefully typing BASIC code from there enthusiast magazine. Commodore, Apple or the highest podge of C/PM machines.

Open Source went out of fashion (relatively speaking) with the emergence of DOS and Microsoft. In terms of absolute numbers, Open Source actually grew. It was the relative percentage in the overall digital world with major players doing proprietary code that made it look like Open Source was old-fashioned.

Coinciding with Microsoft starting several years of development work on ‘Chicago’ (Windows 95) Linux started to gain some real traction in the shadows. In my opinion this is only because the attempts to create (again) a Unified UNIX in the late 1980s failed (again).

We find ourselves where we are today because there are two types of computer users. Some of us like the joy of figuring something out, while others merely see it as something to get something else done. There are a few of us that do the former to help the latter. I’m one of those few.

I am keenly aware of the fact that readers here are solidly in the former camp and do not understand those in the latter camp.

You can call me a Microsoft shill or anything else you want to. My career has been hearing what people want and figuring out a way to give that to them. If it means Macintosh because they don’t want to learn something else, okay. Same thing with Windoze.

Personally, I’ve been a Linux fan since 1997. Frankly I don’t give a damn if it is Open Source or not. I admire its elegance in squeezing out so much performance on so few resources. And I’m not alone.

Certainly costs are a factor, and it is the very nature of the Open Source concept that has meant Linux has already won the race, sort of.

There is an old saying which goes: “figures don’t lie, liars figure.” I have been a voracious reader of for many years. The amount of embedded Linux devices out there is frankly, staggering.

In terms of sheer numbers, Open Source computers outnumber Macintosh and Windows computers, combined.

There are damn few embedded Windows phones. I have yet to find one with Redmond’s idea of an operating system packed into a dishwasher. They can proudly point to a couple of new Ford cars. However chances are if you moved about today in anything more souped-up than a bicycle, is probably running on embedded Linux.

This is also true with everything from the washer/dryer to your smart phone/tablet device and the elevator you last got on.

Some people say Linux has lost on the desktop. While that is currently true, Windows 8 gives a small window of opportunity to Open Source on the desktop.

Certainly I know Windows very well. I lived in Windows 8 for 18 months before its release. I have left it behind some time ago, for Windows 8.1. It is the best Windows since 2000, only quite mature in handling security, without interfering with those that just need to get something done. And considering its legacy, it is comparatively resource efficient.

For Linux to win on the Desktop, the Linux community cannot afford to squander the window of opportunity (no pun intended), that Windows 8.0/8.1 has delivered.

My fear is this will be squandered the same way United UNIX was in the late 1980s. Let me give you a real world point as an example I am facing, right now.

For the past nine months much of my day has been consumed with what I call: Desktop Television Station. Much in the same way the laser printer turned camera ready (film production) for publishing out to pasture, creating a Television Station on the desktop can be done. I’ve done it, and I am making money showing others how to do it.

And once again this is a prime example of where Windows wins. Logically, it shouldn’t. The best Windows ever still uses more resources than my Mountain Lion Macintosh or Linux. Resource availability is quite important when doing real-time video.

And I cannot throw a gamers level of resources at Desktop Television because it makes enough noise to sound like you are standing on an aircraft carrier. Audio goes with the TV part.

I have a no charge utility program that uses a whopping 65 kB. It lets me convert the video on a Windows machine both horizontally and vertically. Yes, it does other things too but that’s all I need for Desktop Television.

This is needed for correcting the displayed image from a split beam mirror, A.K.A. Teleprompter. This allows the person facing the camera to be looking directly into the camera lens and be seeing what’s happening on their computer.

Because of the mirror, the display is flipped horizontally and vertically. Reading is virtually impossible. Don’t even think of trying to control a mouse.

On some of the OS X Operating Systems you can do a little dance with a combination of keys and mouse to change the display around. It’s just a lot easier in Windows. Oh, where art thou, desktop Linux?

I’m confident some reader will tell me: “No problem. Just hack this.”


That is a nonstarter. The people will just want to get something done on Desktop Television won’t buy it. If I appear to be the only one with the secret sauce knowledge on how to flip the display around on a laptop slid under a split beam mirror, they won’t buy it. Their concern is what happens if I get hit by the proverbial bus?

If I could show them Ubuntu and show them how to get “Teleprompter Video” by just clicking on GetApp, it would be completely different game. These types of end-users perfectly accept getting something from the Apple Store, Amazon Kindle cloud purchases, etc.

From my end I could make a very compelling case for why you use Ubuntu for Desktop Television. And it’s not going to happen because Desktop Linux folks are into the tinkering. And the reality is, the majority of the users want to get something done with as little hassle as possible.

Unless us tinkerers reach across the aisle to give the average end user what they want, our window of opportunity will be squandered, again.

Call me a Microsoft shill if you want. The people I deal with want a car with an automatic transmission. They do not see the joy in learning how to release a clutch to engage the transmission while on a hill.

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  One Response to “The Race Is Over, Open Source Has Won. Sorta.”

  1. I liked your article. There is another camp of Open Source users. Those that are not interested in being beholden to the corporates and all the dependancy that introduces.

    I’m not sure the comparison between Manual and Automatic transmission holds. I’m leaning towards it, but I think it’s flawed.

    The point may be more dependancy. The general user is dependant on what the corporation sees as the most likely path to make money.

    The open source “community” seems more focused on the quality of code, it’s efficiency and security of the system. Ths is what the end user says they want, and then fall back onto the dependancy treadmill.

    I’d be guessing the end user has no clue what they want or how to get it. Hence, consultants like you and I ask questions to “crow bar” that out. 🙂

    Linux’s desktop problem will continue while there is the corporate/state complex out there telling them “We’re from the private sector. The state has laws to protect you, and we’re here to help you” Yeh right!

    But, there billions enough sucked into this idea for it to work, for now.

    just thinking out loud.

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