Category Archives: Technical Writing

Why Linux will never be mainstream

Digg is one of the sites I check several times daily, using the wonderful Klipfolio software. Once again, a top-Digged discussion arose about Linux. And once again, Linux folks don’t get it. I’ve tried Ubuntu, and found it neat. I’m even considering using it for a home file server. But here’s why I think Linux will never achieve the success they hope for:

Linux? Huh?

Despite the fact that IT (Information Technology) folk talk about Linux like it’s the greatest thing since GREP, most people don’t have a clue. They know Mac, they know PC. They don’t have the time to learn about anything else.

Distributions, Anyone?

Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Debian, Slackware, Red Hat? C’mon! People are confused when you ask them if they have XP Home or Professional, and you want them to choose from “flavors” of an operating system? I’ve had people ask me if they can run Office XP on Vista. And even the community shows snobbery: I just read someone referring to “Ubuntards”.

The Command Line

I have a friend who considers himself an intermediate user of Windows and computers. However, when trying to help him with a problem, I told him to open Windows Explorer. I was met with a blank stare.

Sure, geeks know to type cmd and use DOS. In XP, Microsoft hides the command prompt all the way under the Accessories menu. And Linux expects people to compile their applications from it? I know that there are programs to do this for you the majority of the time, but the point remains, most people aren’t going to sudo anything.

The Apps Ain’t Pretty

In general, open-source software is created by programmers for programmers. Making the software look pretty is secondary. No matter how much people say it, the GIMP is not Photoshop, Inkscape is not Illustrator, and OpenOffice is not MS Office (Yes, I’ve tried them all). Designers use Macs because they’re sexy, not because they’re utilitarian. People use iTunes because it’s pretty and simple to use.

The “Community”

Linux advocates will tell anyone who listens that any Linux problem can be solved easily by the oh-so-supportive community of users. However, not everyone has access to either a second computer at home, or a work computer where they can spend idle time interacting with the community to find answers. It’s kind of hard to look up the answer online when your computer can’t connect to your wireless network.

People Don’t Like Change

There’s a reason IE is still a huge part of the browser market: people are scared of “breaking their computer”. Most people can’t fix computer problems themselves, and everyone knows that support these days consists of either “This isn’t our problem, it’s a problem with [insert application here]”, or “reformat and reinstall”. Sure, give someone Firefox and they generally like it more than IE, but most people will use IE because it’s what they’re used to.

People Just Want Their Computer To “Work”

This is why the Mac is making inroads lately. Most people don’t want to know how their computer works, don’t want to tweak settings, they just want to check their email and surf the web, and maybe use Word to type something up. My same “intermediate” Windows user friend recently bought a Mac, and just gushed how nice it is and easy to use.

You Get What You Pay For

You’d think that since Linux is free, people would flock to it. But they’re not. Instead, they’re buying overpriced Macs, and never looking back. Even with all the publicity that Vista is a horrible operating system, Linux’s market share is below even the Mac.


Powered by ScribeFire.