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For six years, the Internet Nexus served as my technology blog, but I've since started blogging at the SuperSite Blog instead. If you're looking for the blog, please head there. --Paul

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes of ZD Blogs raises some interesting points:
On the whole, most people would rather spend the money on Windows (or Mac) than take the time to experiment with Linux.


I’ve come to the conclusion that there are five crucial things the Linux community doesn’t understand about the average computer user, and that these five things are slowing down the adoption of Linux onto desktop systems in the home and office.

1 - On the whole, users aren’t all that dissatisfied with Windows
This is absolutely true in my experience, and the one thing that most Linux (and Mac) users don't understand. I'm glad this was his first point: There is this collection of nauseating wanna-be pundits online who insist that Windows is a piece of crap, but that hasn't been the case for years. Maybe longer. I recall being an Amiga guy in the early 1990's and despising Microsoft. But once I saw the Windows 95/4.0 beta I realized things were changing and that using Windows, finally, could be a choice and not a requirement. I will say this loud and clear to all Windows bashers: Using Windows isn't horrible. In fact, many of us make a conscious decision to use the best OS on earth, with its unassailable software library and compatibility with services, software, and hardware. And yes, it's a choice.
2 - Too many distros
Absolutely. In fact, there's a version of Linux for every Linux user, if I'm not mistaken. This is the dark side of open source: Too much choice. It sounds silly, but choosing a Linux distro is like choosing a bottle of salad dressing: There are 127 varieties in the average US supermarket, but most people just go with the one they know.
3 - People want certainty that hardware and software will work
See my points above about compatibility. This issue dogs Apple as well, though obviously there are solutions there for technical users.
4 - As far as most people are concerned, the command line has gone the way of the dinosaur
Obviously, he means "consumers" or "individuals" which are most people, and by extension, "most people who use computers." What's interesting is that the command line is actually making a comeback at Microsoft, though those efforts will be seen solely by system administrators: Windows Server 2008 includes two command line environments (one of which is the object-oriented, .NET-based Power Shell), major new command line tools (like servermanagercmd.exe), and, going forward, all Microsoft management tools will be built for Power Shell first: GUI-based tools will be built off of the command line stuff. That's UNIX, folks (and, by extension, Linux). Interesting.
5 - Linux is still too geeky
Yep. Ultimately, however, I'd argue that Linux is "too limited," at least on the desktop, and that's why it's flailing with consumers.

I'll take this a step further. While Linux will always have a role in the server market, even that role will be diminished over time as Windows Server gets better and better. In fact, I'm curious how the Linux community will do anything but lose share to Windows Server going forward, duplicating the situation we see on the desktop. It seems inevitable to me, given how much Windows Server is improving.

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[ Posted at 9:21 AM | Permalink ]


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