It's a big negative for those who have businesses and employment related to these areas of the market. Yet it also provides us with an opportunity to use our existing computers a little more wisely. And dare I say it with a more "green" state of mind.
While software/hardware sales would fall instantly, brand new income opportunities would suddenly arise as new Linux users would be desperately looking to learn all they can about Linux on the desktop. Small businesses might also suddenly find themselves expressing greater interest in expanding the Linux market. They might focus on Linux-based POS software for existing systems and finding alternatives to traditional security systems through DIY solutions like ZoneMinder.
The economics of "who is earning what" would shift -- and likely shift in a very big way, I suspect. Yet at the same time, the opportunities for everyone willing to learn are still very much available.
The room for growth in this arena is huge: computers running live distributions without the need for hard drives, older computers finding a second life running various NAS (Network Attached Storage) solutions. Sadly, taking such an approach based on environmental concerns hasn't yet been enough to unlock most from their own proprietary world.
No, most people will do what is easy and convenient. Even if this might bite them down the road later on, people love to do things the easy way. Why is this the case? Partially, because this is often what they see in schools and with their local governments.
Through adversity comes freedom
I don't even begin to entertain the idea that I have all the answers. Clearly, selling software is not going away anytime soon, and the likelihood that computers sales are going to grind to a halt is simply the work of fiction. Im totally fine with this as I prefer seeing users having the freedom of choice.
Despite all this, we must ask ourselves: at what point does Linux on the desktop begin making a bigger impact? While not everyone out there is willing to make the switch, there are some groups for whom not using Linux is not only environmentally wasteful, its also economically wasteful.
With local governments and schools squeezing every dime possible, we see education money being spent on new computers with proprietary operating systems. Counterproductive, perhaps? Older, still operating computers being tossed aside for recycling despite their ability for reuse is just wasteful and completely avoidable. I realize that some schools and local governments are making the switch, but the truth is they are few.
Let's examine some options that provide older computers with the new life they deserve, bundled with an economic model people need outside of schools and local governments. You know, so school-government groups can lead by example.
Value Village PC?
About two years ago, I lived for a period near Portland, Oregon. During my time there, I discovered a local non-profit that basically offered computer recycling along with revamping older computers that were donated to the group. The non-profit is called FreeGeek. Theyre awesome.