Thursday, February 18, 2010

Maybe Linux is *not* for everyone

Well, I've been giving quite a bit of thought to the ongoing discussion of 1.) Year of the linux desktop and 2.) Commercial decisions of Canonical for yahoo search and the music store.

I just wanted to dialog here some of the internal discussions and my point of view on the subject. That seems to split irc channels the way the American Civil War split families so many years ago.  Of notice just like with the Mono debate it seems this conversation has no one "on-the-fence".

I don't want to in any way imply by my blog post that opinions on the matter aren't important, or that anyone should just "be quiet".  Like with any points of disagreement, listening is as important as stating.

So, for the purposes of this article "we" shall refer to the Linux/OSS community, I fancy myself one of these and will include myself in the possessive plural pronoun.  And I think that we should stop and consider the overall situation and view.

So the "Year of the Linux Desktop" seems to ever evade us.  And on one hand I sigh as I feel many (if not most) distributions are up to snuff and completely usable, even by grandma.  Someone has to make the "labeling on the box" up to par with the commercial options, which is no exception in any other OSS application we try to offer for buy-in by the general public.  It has to do at the very least what the other one does.  I mean, none of us suggested Firefox until it was baked enough to stand up.  No one got an office manager to use OpenOffice in the first version after StarOffice since it was junk then.

I can appreciate vocal concern over the commercial decisions of Canonical, but I would argue two points.  1.) They *are* a company and need to make money.  2.) If they don't do things like a music store, Linux will never have buy-in on the Desktop everywhere since people expect the "iTunes" experience.   To the gist of it, if Canonical doesn't make this kind of commercial decision, who will?  We hated Novell for making deals with Microsoft, but it has come to serve them since some server business comes there way when server customers "downgrade" to Novell.

I say good on Canonical and may the force be with them.  They stated quite clearly in their early days was to make a linux that anyone could use and I see these steps as logical in the progression of that goal and not in conflict with anything they "promised" to the community.

I have now decided for myself, and myself alone, that I'm quite glad that everyone isn't using Linux.  I would prefer that Linux stay lean and svelte, and always retain focus on what made it a better functional operating system since it's beginning.  If losing even one ounce of that to gain "market share" is what is needed, then I would prefer not to do it at all.  My Linux, the one I came to know and use worked fast and better than any other one out there, if we have to make the entire OS bloated to anticipate every non-thinking end-user action, then we will just end up with a different version of Windows.

So, in conclusion.  Yes, I'm an elitist.  I don't want grandma to use Linux unless she is willing to learn enough to use the command line without releasing a shoulder dropping sigh.  She can use windows.

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1 comment:

MrCorey said...

I don't know how someone can avoid the command line on Windows either. I work at an ISP and we routinely get our customers to perform a ping test to see the point of failure in their setup, for example.

But, you're right. The only support they'll find, usually, is from a relative.