Linux Desktop Adoption: Hitting a Brick Wall?

A look at the various factors holding desktop Linux back – including the group that is ultimately responsible.
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Despite fantastic advances with Desktop Linux as a collective whole, there still seems to be some hurdles that this Windows alternative has yet to overcome. In this piece, I’ll examine these from my own perspective, that of a full time Linux user.

For example, this statement:

Desktop Linux is not ready for prime time

Perhaps one of the most inaccurate statements to have ever be committed to the printed word, I have read over and over how desktop Linux is simply not ready for casual desktop use. On the contrary, it is being used everyday by Windows refugees who simply opted out of 'the system.’


The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around. What do you see? Business people, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy.

You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.

As corny as the above movie quote may be, it remains completely accurate with regard to the Windows OS. Approach a typical Windows user, then ask them: why choose to spend hundreds of dollars on MS Office? They'll respond by explaining that they need a viable office suite for their day-to-day tasks. What's interesting is their reaction when you show them that they can get the same thing for free, without paying Microsoft's high costs, with Open Office. Still others users will claim that Office 2007 provides a better overall feel than its open source counterpart.

So we need to examine the question again: Is Linux for the desktop ready for prime time? When considering the abilities of these distributions, yes, desktop Linux is ready for everyday use. It's adoption however, is something of a different story altogether.

Trouble breaking through the adoption barrier.

If Linux is so fantastic, how come everyone is not using it? I see a few different factors responsible for this. Confusion and dependence on proprietary media formats, FCC headaches over keeping certain aspects of wireless devices “closed off” and of course my favorite – will Microsoft sue us for using this platform? Yet even if we push all of those problems to the side, the end user still is not seeing this Linux alternative advertised anywhere in the mainstream media. Thus, how is Joe Average expected to discover this as an alternative to Windows?

With all of this working against Linux adoption, it's actually amazing that we have seen the progress that has taken place with companies like Dell. While Ubuntu's sponsor, Canonical, has been great at promoting Dell's efforts with Linux, Dell remains uncomfortable with supporting Linux outwardly on their front page. They've even gone so far as to 'recommend' Windows Vista on their Ubuntu web pages.

Corporate paranoia and poor public perception is a dangerous thing for any grassroots effort. Despite good intentions and best efforts from the Linux community, the almighty dollar is always going to come out the winner. Microsoft has already From figured out how to make sure that the only Linux the U.S.-based user will be using is that which has offers their own seal of approval.

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