Ten Steps Needed for Fiery Desktop Linux Adoption: Page 3

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8. Get serious about open video and audio formats. It amazes me how most Linux users are perfectly fine with using MP3 standards on the typical Linux PC. These same users need to accept that in order for Linux to be taken seriously, we as users must take our open source media formats equally as seriously. Using the OGG container, users must begin embracing Vorbis on the audio front, and Theroa and Dirac for video.

Optimism aside, there are some serious hurdles here. Most people are interested in the accessibility of the content, not what format it is played in. And the movie and music industry is well aware of this. This translates into two controlling industries pushing non-free media formats.

Why? Because by using non-free formats, the music and movies industries are able to maintain a tight control on how their media is enjoyed, DRM is easily implemented and other hassles for the consumer are just a button push away as well.

Needed solution: I believe this is going to be one of the biggest challenges. Because developers have no control over media market influences, the very best we as enthusiasts can do is encourage existing Linux users to convert their CDs to free formats when legally allowed. And simply hope that eventually, enough people will be using free formats for the mainstream music industry to get the message.

On the movie front, however, I see this group being much more stubborn as we are much less likely to find an independent production company able to produce blockbuster content for our viewing enjoyment. Unless the MPAA opts to loosen its control or make Flash on Firefox a possibility, I see little changing here for digital movie formats.

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9. DVDs, Blu-Ray. Just as with the digital movie formats mentioned previously, the current methods for localized playback are still an obstacle for Linux users here in the U.S. All users do indeed have access to libdvdcss for behind-the-scenes DVD interoperability; the problem remains that no one is willing to distribute it thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) here in the States. Despite the legality of libdvdcss never being tested in U.S. courts, Linux vendors simply opt to allow their users to discover and install libdvdcss themselves to avoid this from ever becoming an issue.

The nearly impossible to obtain alternative to this is the LinDVD option. A Linux DVD playback solution provided by InterVideo, LinDVD is proprietary and very difficult to get a copy of.

Needed solution: Either have someone willing to take on the DMCA to test the legality of libdvdcss in a U.S. court so we can move on, or have InterVideo stop playing games with LinDVD and make the sale of this software available.

As for formats such as Blu-Ray, we’ll need to see how developers are tackling the lack of hardware thus far and whether we end up in yet another legal snafu here in the U.S. over breaking any used encryption for these discs.

10. Motivating OEMs. With the exception of Dell, most of the existing Linux retailers providing preinstalled Linux solutions are so "small time" that they are not seen as a real player in the desktop Linux sales marketplace. In the past, companies such as Linspire, Xandros, and others have made attempts at penetrating this marketplace through OEM-styled partnerships, but with the exception of Xandros partnering with ASUS with the Eee, most have failed miserably.

Those vendors that have failed in the eyes of the Linux community did so by choosing to bundle their Linux distributions on sub-par PCs, three of which I have personally owned. Each made permanent impression on users such as myself that this could be seen as a reflection of how Linux is to be perceived by John Q. Public. In short, Linux is to be seen as a poor man's OS.

Needed solution: Dell is the solution. Regardless of my ill-feelings toward Dell and their choosing to make locating their Ubuntu Linux options nearly impossible for the common user to discover on their front page, I believe that they will be the eventual leader in the Linux desktop for the end user. It will be Dell that will be best poised to show the world that with tight Apple-like OS/hardware integration, the Linux desktop is a force to be reckoned with.

Other desktop Linux vendors will continue to have their own niches, but because of the lack of vending reach possessed by the likes of Dell, will never even come close in my opinion. As time goes on, however, it’s only a matter of time before HP joins in here in the States to compete directly with Dell for what could evolve into desktop Linux dominance.

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