Why Knoppix 7.2 is one of the best Linux distros and how Apple can win.

As I thought about it a bit more I realize that Knoppix is a winning Linux distro in a totally different way that Apple OSX wins, but ultimatly wins for the same reason, and is what is losing about many other Linux releases, especially Ubuntu. It isn’t that these other distros are failures, but in the discourse over whether Linux can defeat Microsoft and Windows, they are. I can relate this cmparison to Sun and Solaris which had chance to defeat Microsoft and failed, and now I think that I can see why. The answer has nothing to do with the underlying complexity of UNIX. It has to do with controlling the platform and that doesn’t necessarily mean a proprietary hardware platform although having that makes solving the other problems easier.

So Knoppix is designed to run on any hardware, but it is controlled pretty much by one person, Klaus Knopper who is a very skilled person who knows intimately the details of administrating a Linux system, but his goal was to create a rescue system that would run live off a DVD. His was one of the first live linux distros, and it does not really work well as a hard-disk multiuser install. It is designed for forensic and system rescue use. Knoppix does illustrate what having control over everything on the DVD cab get you, especially with a well-constrained mission.

Apple wins for the same reason, but through a different route, It controls the hardware platform, but that gives it the ability to prove that install and configuration issues for packages are settled before it shipps. Sun had that control, but it didn’t have the GUI and human engineering of Apple’s look, and the marketing success, but like Apple its platforms were a little too expensive to make it the Windows Killer it wanted to be. Apple now has the change to make a big penetration into Microsoft’s market share not by trying to port OSX to non-Mac platforms or installing on legacy hardware, but by cutting the price of its systems by about half. Then it would have a fighting chance to be the Windows Killer. OSX has matured to the point, that based on UNIX, it has solved for the average computer user most of the configuration difficulties that still plague most Linux distros. That would force some of them out of business, too bad.

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