Open Ballot: What can Linux really steal from Apple?


As the Apple vs. Samsung dispute wages on, with both sides arguing about rounded corners and rectangles; for this week's podcast, we want to know what can Linux really take from Apple?

Is it the design aesthetic, or its uncompromising attention to detail? Or how about its dictatorial approach to development? Or the narrowness of its hardware provision? Or would you like to transplant some of that famous Cupertino idolatry into the free software ecosystem, or simply shroud each Ubuntu release within Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field.

Let us know your opinions, and we'll read them out in the podcast we're planning to record tomorrow (Wednesday).

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Your comments

What to nick from Apple

1. App[le] store.
2. Disappearing scrollbars.
3. Pretending that your desktop is actually a tablet.

Oh hang on, that’s Ubuntu.

Love you!

Its a stupid question

Apple is a terrible company supported only by the brainwashed idiots who have too much money to spend on their products. They used to be innovative, but what have they done recently that is in any way new other than spend more money taking people to court than on R&D.

There are several things that the linux community can *learn from apple, not take. For one, most of the time apples products "just work" which is nice. Then again I haven't had a distro "not work" in a long time!

Linux developers need to realize from apples mistakes that adding new features, like for example, turn by turn voice navigation on maps, is ridiculous if:
1. You have other software bugs that need addressing you should address them first before adding new features.
2. Software development takes time, apple seem to rush out new features, like the linux community do. We have great systems, lets slow down, fix bugs and test things properly for a change!

What to give to Apple

Rhagoletis pomonella

What indeed?

Things I respect about Apple:

High class graphics and overall polished appearance.

Good quality of hardware (until the recent iPhones, that is)

General Helpfulness of the staff in stores.

Things I don't respect about Apple:

Making tech sexy in order to charge 3 times what it's worth.

Locked in features

Company patent trolling. They don't need to do this. They already make products people want.

What we should learn from Apple? Nothing. We already do everything that Apple do well. They just have more money and PR. There is nothing new Apple can teach us that are lessons I want the Linux community to learn.

I've got one!

The Woz! We'll have him! The rest they can keep...


How about producing it's own hardware?

I've made the switch from a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge 320 to MacBook just because of getting tired of things creeping up on me that weren't working.

I'd be really happy to spend more money than on a "conventional" laptop, but hopefully less than the MacBook Pros out there, to buy "dedicated" Ubuntu (probably any other distro) hardware, tried and tested.

Personally I can get used to changes in the interface and adjust my workflow whenever Ubuntu decides to copy stuff from other places (instead of learning from it) so I'm not really bothered about that. I didn't mind Unity and the rest ... but what really gets to me is having to debug a problem like volume/brightness keys not working and other similar issues - distracting me from ACTUAL WORK!


Well, I believe that we are better in most of the aspects except one - we don't have a big companies doing marketing a selling for end users. Canonical is trying, but they are still far...

There is one thing

Apple forces there hardware partners to provide good quality drivers or the necessary documentation. This improves stability and generates a good user experience.

Sometimes I believe FOSS should establish a "pay or contribute" business licence. Big companies pay either a licences fee or contribute with code. The money goes into development of core functions and drivers created by full time paid FOSS hackers.

How long do we have to tolerate broken video support, fiddling with audio settings, half working keyboards and carefully selection of external hardware for compatibility reasons?
Whereas, in the meantime big global companies enjoys royal free usage of FOSS software created by hobbyists and freelancers?


+1 on acquiring Wozniak. He belongs among the beardos.
Anyway, there is one thing I have the impression they do well - only from playing with an iPhone, because I have not used any Apple stuff seriously in the 21st century - they are good at that you-are-on-this-screen-so-you-probably-want-to-do-this workflow. Not stupid like Clippy, but actually in tune with creating a flow.
But to be honest, I am too old and closed-minded to come up with recommendations, unless it is to teach everyone to use keyboard combos and a runbox in conjunction with Openbox. Why work on flow when I have everything right here from my fingertips on a system with a minimal RAM footprint?


Windows refugees who fled to Mac and are now looking at a new upgrade for a computer that no longer has a supported OS upgrade path (really?)

Now that they've seen OSX on top of BSD/Unix they may be more open minded about Linux (and the great choice of graphical interfaces!) Though, I imagine, Unity will probably be the easiest one to transition to in the near future(one step at a time eh?)

The Money! Duh!

The question is who, how, and when... and how to split it

THE Brand

According to many polls, Apple is officially the no.1 coolest brand in the UK. Usually when I read "results" like this, I feel physically sick, and run to my shiny linux box for cover.

However, as we've said many times, both here and in the magazine, you don't need to convince hardcore Linuxers about the merits of FLOSS and the plethora of OS's available. To us, this is cool. But outside of our little club, is Linux cool? Is it even known?

If there's one thing we can learn (not steal) from Apple, is the power of branding. It becomes more than the sum of its parts, a kind of unreachable pinnacle that makes its buyers feel good about themselves, confident about their product, and advocates of the company. Linux could be all these things, we just need to be confident about our approach, and the world will be ours! Muhahaha!!!

My friend just bought a Mac

When I asked him why?? he said he was fed up with Microsoft.
Then I asked how he got on with the Mac and he had a bit of a moan about getting things which worked with the mac including software etc He moaned about prices and so I asked him what he had hoped buying the Mac would do for him -- He blamed Which the consumer Magazine for leading him up the garden path :)
Truth be told he could have been much better off just installing Mint on his old kit.
Until people like Which Magazine give Linux a fair crack of the whip then it will always be uphill.
I have used Linux since the days when you bought boxed with manuals from PC World Red Hat, Mandrake, Caldera Open Linux,
In the early days it was very frustrating to get a copy of Mandrake 8 working with sound and your poxy dial up modem etc only to buy Mandrake 9.2 where everything was broke including the control center having paid good money for the powerpack edition.

Mandrake did it again to me again when the version 10 worked great then was it 2006 edition broke everything and charged for online support.
At the end of the day until every Linux respin can give the new user a screen display that works, a keyboard that matches their location, an internet connection that works, and some sound out of the speakers, mainstream reviewers will always say "for Geeks Only" spinning cubes or no spinning cubes
Folk don't have trouble using synaptic other than adding repositories etc but they do struggle having installed something, and now faced with a terminal window they don't have a clue what the command to start the program they downloaded with. Why is that well because they haven't been told in most cases??
Surely that could be in big block caps in the synaptic description window "type this on the command line to start program".

What can Linux steal from Apple?

Can I put my two pence in for absolutely nothing? I am so sick of linux distributions that try to look like macs. If I wanted my machine to be near useless, I'd go out and _buy_ a Mac.

There is only one thing that Apple does right, and that is collect religious zealots that will buy the ianything they sell.

What we can learn from Apple

What we can learn from Apple :
1/ Generally people don't want computers they want appliances.
2/ Shiny apples make for excellent market penetration.
3/ Limited options are less scary than real options.
i.e. Thinking hurts and takes time.

However ask Snow White about seductive Apples, for the real story.

Apple user "?thinks?":
"mirror mirror on the wall who's the fairest of them all... oooh big gleaming sleek twendy Apple ... Crunch.. Yum .. zzzzzzz
...there's an App for that ... zzzzzz "

Apple Marketing: "now all your bytes belong to us ... <insert evil capitalist big fluffy lawyer cat snicker> "

Linux/GNU of course is our hero Prince who with a gentle kiss reawakens our now brain dead beauty... and saves the Dwarves from a life of locked in wage slavery. :)

A respect for design

A respect for design would be nice. An acknowledgement that (good) designers know what they are talking about and that it is an area, like any other, which requires knowledge and skill.

If you want your stuff to look good and work well (rather than just <i>be</i> good, honest, if only anyone can figure out how to use it) and for the aesthetics and the usability to work together, rather than be at odds, then you need a designer.

(Having said that, I think Apple's aesthetic design is overrated. They do have moments of industrial design genius though)

Apple respect design and designers and as a result their stuff tends to make sense and fit and work together well. There's a cohesive symbology and people respond well to this (aesthetic tastes aside). Not just anyone can achieve this, it requires a good designer (in the case of Linux, one who understands that Linux isn't and shouldn't be Apple or Apple-like. One who understands how to take the eclecticism and dynamism of Linux and make that make sense).

(addendum: my capture is 'cumsaws sugar'. I do not want to know what a cumsaw is)



The answer is simple.

Steve Wozniak - the only innovative thing Apple really had. Everything else not Woz-related is just marketing.

We need...

To steal back Appleman. Bananaman has been off our screens for too long since Apple sued his arch nemesis into oblivion, forcing Bananaman into early retirement.


Linux for me is freedom of choice. It's about diversity. I can switch between distros and desktop managers. For free.
Appl€ is the exact opposite: it's mind numbing 'eat or die', no choice and costs money.
Appl€ is worse even then M$, it farms users which think choice is an unecessary effort. They get told 'it just works', not only does it not always 'just work' but linux and windows 'just work' as good.

Appl€ to me is like nazi-germany : It invades and where it succeeded the oppression follows. All with the promise of a 'better race' of humans/computers/phones...

A little logo and conectivity

You see it on the side of all those boxes that little gadgets come in and you plug the gadgets into your computer, (like satnav, music players and all), be it the Windows Logo or an Apple, it would be nice to see Tux along side them too.

I have an old TomTom that hasn't been updated since I booted Microsoft out of my house. (It hursts more because there's a Tux inside TomTom). Now that's Irony!

apple is a sexy line of hardware, linux is not

apple is a brand - linux is not.
apple products have moved from computers used for specific purposes by arty types into aspirational products that bring people a sense of achievement once owned - being part of a middle class 'culture' if you will
everyone knows what apple is about and accepts the good and the bad to be part of this no-longer-very-exclusive club.
a friend recently got his first iphone. First comments after a week were that it's not as configurable or flexible as his android HTC, but he likes it anyway because it's an apple product.
my uncle, who is an electrical / electronic engineer has heard about linux, but still didn't really know what it was about because there was so many different 'ones' - he knew only ubuntu.
as much as many don't like it - ubuntu clearly has done a good job just in brand awareness. I believe that's why they don't mention linux - it's too confusing - it's like saying someone is from asia - means nothing considering the size of land mass and number of races and religions.
linux is a hobby that very few can make a living from - like antique dealing
branding is probably the key here - but it means nothing without sexy hardware. desktops simply are not longer something to covet

Some usefult things from apple

What I would like to see on Linux:

Good equivalents to:
* Apple Automator
* Apple time machine
* Siri (or even continous) speech recognition
* Apple has a far better file type <-> Application association. Linux "Open with" feature is fundamentally broken. Too often file types are not registered and the relevant application must be searched in the file system tree.

Not much

Of course the brand! Most people tend to buy mac book just because of the popularity of apple.Apple computer's are mostly for those people who want their work to be done. Apple computer are very much user friendly in nature :)

Hardware reference wouldn't be bad

I like the idea of a handful of computer in each category
servers,laptops, desktops etc.. which are designed to work out of the box, all the features of the laptop working, power management etc.. with completely free drivers.

All the distros can test against it so that each release is known to work on that hardware configuration. That way when a business/individual wants a laptop and runs linux they know they can pick from this small range and be more or less guaranteed that for a given lifetime it will work and be upgradeable.

Linux Cannot steal from apple / Apple has nothing to steal

After reading many of these comments I must say something. For years I have been a mac user. I used macs before they were very popular (before ipod and such). But in the last 4 years I have watched linux take great strides.

Just a couple of years ago it was murder to get a printer to work on linux, now, very easy. I think linux has made the right moves to be a system for end users. My fiance is running ubuntu on her netbook.

But, I must admit there is one thing that linux can steal from apple and that is CUSTOMERS!!!!

As soon as linux has software to replace apps like photoshop and final cut pro linux will lead the way. Because what business would not go with the less costly os, the more secure os, if the software they needed were available.

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