Let's imagine for a moment that an enterprising Linux user, who also works as a PC repair tech, gets the idea to provide their clients an alternative, using a specially pre-configured version of some popular Linux distribution.
Unlike other enterprise levels of Linux-as-a-service, which rely heavily on the support systems that works best for business environments, I see an opportunity for providing support to home users in a fixed environment. This fixed environment is both remote and local, depending on what the circumstances call for.
In order for desktop Linux to be sold as a service for the home user though, the selected distribution must meet the following requirements.
The ability to install and remove applications. FOSS (Free and open source software) applications are fine, but locking it down to the point of being unable to try new FOSS applications might not be the best path. At the same time, it is important that the applications available are limited to stable, established applications.
Self-updating distribution. Zonbu nails this head on, however it falls short as there have been problems with certain LCD monitors and the provided resolutions to choose from.
Multiple user accounts. Again, Zonbu does not offer this despite it being a no-brainer for any family.
Clearly defined list of compatible peripherals. This is an issue that plagues Linux in general. Not so much because of a lack of support, because in reality, peripheral support is pretty good. Rather, the fact that a user has to "research" what works and what does not. Clearly, this can be fixed by simply providing these peripherals from a simple online store. Let the company wanting to sell Linux as a service do the research, not some poor user simply looking to get a document printed.
As things stand now, nothing out there meets the list of requirements that Ive listed above. While all installed Linux distributions do provide the ability to self-update, there is still an issue with select video cards and, in Zonbu's case, select LCD monitors.
Despite my frustrations with Zonbu's approach, they remain the closest thing to meeting the requirements I outlined above. Perhaps if Zonbu and other similar companies working to sell Linux as a service will take my suggestions to heart, and so put themselves in a much stronger position for a much larger customer base.
In the meantime, we are left to ponder the outcome of various companies out there looking to provide Linux as a service to their customers. Linux as a service has been met with fair success on the enterprise desktop front and tremendous success on the server front. So doesnt it stand to reason that perhaps Linux as a service could one day be ready for the home market as well?
It may not be easy and there is a lot of work to be done, but I believe that here soon, home adoption in this realm will happen. We just need to make sure that the basics are covered with regard to peripheral support in addition providing local techs for those moments where remote support is not a viable option.