After Hours

10 reasons why Canonical and Ubuntu will connect the masses with Linux

Could Canonical and Ubuntu give Linux a chance to gain widespread acceptance? Here are 10 reasons why it might play out that way.

When people hear Ubuntu Linux, the reactions vary greatly. Some folks hiss and spit like a cornered cat, some cheer, and some just tilt their head in confusion. But from my perspective as a long-time Linux user and a supporter of what Canonical and Ubuntu are doing, one word comes to mind: Future. What do I mean? Simple. Ubuntu Linux holds the key to mass acceptance of Linux on the desktop.

Of course, Canonical and Ubuntu aren't perfect. They have made some missteps and isolated a good portion of the Linux community. Even so, the Ubuntu distribution still offers the best chance. Let's look at why.

1: Mobile platform

Canonical saw the future of computing and it was in the hands of the users -- literally. In both smartphone and tablet form, Ubuntu will be the first to deliver Linux to mobile devices. And having the power of Ubuntu available on a mobile device should bring a huge win for the Linux platform. Although the Ubuntu phone and tablet have yet to be released, they are already starting to cause a stir. Will either of these displace IOS or Android devices? Most likely not. But they will introduce even more users to the Linux platform.

2: Unification of devices

With the release of the Ubuntu Phone and Tablet, one of the goals Mark Shuttleworth set out to achieve was a unification of devices. This means that every kind of machine, from server to smartphone, can enjoy the same interface. This unification will go a long way toward stripping away the stigma that Linux is too hard. On top of erasing the current negativity surrounding Linux, it will also make supporting the platform that much easier -- one interface to rule them all.

3: Developing for the masses

Ubuntu is truly the first Linux distribution whose primary focus is the average computer user. Where most distributions preach to an already baptized choir, Canonical is focusing its energy on the rest of the world. If any distribution (or managing company) can get Linux into the hands of the masses, it's Canonical and Ubuntu. Nearly every other distribution seems to be content with targeting users who are already familiar with Linux and open source.

4: An eye for business

Red Hat is the only company to make any serious inroads with big business. Small to midsize businesses, on the other hand, have been a mystery. Canonical has given Ubuntu Linux a spit shine perfectly suited for SMBs. This applies to everything. From the Ubuntu.com website to the graphics used on the desktop (and all points in between), Ubuntu has the right level of polish necessary to win over the hearts and minds of business. And with the mobile initiative in place, it becomes clear that Canonical has its eyes on a significant prize no other desktop distribution has been able to win over.

5: Beauty and simplicity

Now that Ubuntu 13.04 is here, users should notice subtle differences that help to bring the ever-improving Ubuntu Unity to levels of function and form unseen on the Linux desktop. Yes, the past has been rife with grumblings about Unity. But after only a short few releases, Unity has become an incredibly solid and usable desktop. With the latest iteration, the levels of beauty and simplicity outshine nearly every desktop on the market. And unlike Windows 8, Ubuntu Unity was designed with users and work in mind (not social networking and only the multi-touch interface).

6: Partnerships

Do the names Dell, Lenovo, ASUS, HP, and ARM mean anything to you? They should. Canonical has done a phenomenal job partnering with OEMs that can enable Linux to reach the masses. Canonical has already worked with Lenovo to certify that Ubuntu works on more than 100 devices. My guess is that once the Phone and Tablet have arrived (along with Unity Next and Mir), that number will increase dramatically. Add that to smaller partnerships like System76 and Ubuntu could easily have every market and niche covered.

7: Global thinking

China recently announced that it is working with Canonical to create Ubuntu Kyrin. This version of Ubuntu will serve as a reference point for local hardware and software developers. The goal is to wean its IT sector off Western (closed) software. That means no more Windows or OS X platforms. This will be a major move from Windows to Linux, which might not have been possible without Canonical and Ubuntu.

8: Innovation with purpose

When Windows 8 arrived, it seemed Microsoft made major changes without thinking of how it would affect end users. Not everyone had or planned to have a touch screen. Canonical went a completely different route and made major changes, while keeping an eye on how they would affect end users. Most users fear change, but Ubuntu didn't create an interface that seemed clearly designed for a different skill set and hardware platform.

9: Smart Scopes

If you haven't experienced Smart Scopes, I suggest you check out my How to Preview Unity Smart Scopes post. Smart Scopes takes the place of the Unity lens system and makes desktop searching faster and more powerful than it has ever been. But Smart Scopes isn't just about searching with a broad brush. You can also filter your results and search well beyond your desktop to nearly 100 sources! That is the kind of searching end users can really sink their teeth into.

10: Not Richard Stallman's Linux

If Richard Stallman had his way, Linux would still be stuck in the '90s, being used by only CompSci majors and developers. I fully respect GNU and FOSS -- but when a camp is demanding 100% GPL software, and that demand gets in the way of evolution and adoption, something is wrong with that camp's vision. Linux has needed to reach well beyond the uber geeks and developers for a long time. It's had the power, stability, and user-friendliness for a while now. And with Canonical and Ubuntu leading the charge away from the all-or-none mindset, Linux truly has a chance to break free of the shackles of obscurity.

Still climbing

I'm not proclaiming Canonical to be the savior of Linux. Nor am I saying it (or Ubuntu) is perfect. Canonical has worked some darker magic in its climb to the top. But its goal is admirable and one that must succeed. Linux is close to major success, and with Canonical managing the climb, I am confident that success is within reach.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

124 comments
evan.summers
evan.summers

Without Richard Stallman, arguably there'd be no Linux in the 90s at all ;) Sure, RMS is dogmatic, whereas MS is pragmatic. We needed both :) I'm pretty sure RMS is not "heartbroken" that every Linux distro on every desktop is not 100% free at this stage ;) But he should continue "crying out in the wilderness," forever reminding us what always was, and still is, truely important.  

cobraz
cobraz

I have Ubuntu12.04 Unity and Zorin and Mint on my computer and I run Unity 12.04 99% of time. I put it on puter when released and first 2 weeks not sure, after 6 weeks and realizing what all it can do, love it!

MacBroderick
MacBroderick

Q1 2013 sales figures by IDC, Gartner and Digitimes -smartphones: 216.3 million, 162.5 million using Android Linux -tablets: 49.2 million, 27.8 million using Android Linux -pc: 75-80 million, 28-30 million using Windows 8, at least 8 million using either Mac or Linux (e.g ChromeOS) Total: 1. Android Linux 56% 2. Apple systems 18-19% 3. Windows 16-18% 4. Others 9-11% Folks, why do you talk about Ubuntu and Canonical because world has already moved to Linux clients?

bhanuraghav
bhanuraghav

really, can't remember the last time I actually printed anything...

mcumbee
mcumbee

Dont know why ubuntu is being pushed so hard, even Steam available now. Ive used several distros and OpenSuse with XFCE is my choice. would not want Canonical to become another Microsoft and everyone only develop software with just them in mind as most software should run across multiple distros with minor tweaking.

drunb
drunb

like any OS there are going to be growing pains. UBUNTU had such to evolve to all platforms. I myself was upset with the new UI, but after test driving Windows 8, UBUNTU, is clearly on its way. I cannot Skype with W8 because my ps3 eye is not recognized, and then the issue with DVD drive recognition. UBUNTU recognized both flawlessly. Now to the tweaking side; way more easier for save adding the proper Injury apps. My only gripe is getting qt5 to run right so that Injury phone apps can be developed. UBUNTU will bring the other LINUX distros more unified.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

The easier Ubuntu and Linux make it for people to run Windows applications, i.e., Office Suite, and custom applications; the better it will be for all of us. Since Microsoft really botched it with Windows-8 by blatantly pandering to the touch-centric marketplace, the non touch-centric market place has to either remain with XP or Windows-7, or switch to Linux. A viable alternative to the post Windows-7 setting is needed. Microsoft may come to its senses and fix the mess with Windows-8; but businesses cannot wait and risk a non-solution.

Duke E Love
Duke E Love

Pundits have been saying that it is the "year of Linux" for over 10 years now. All it is is troll bait. Given the number of comments, it is rather effective troll bait.

CharlesG1970
CharlesG1970

Jack, your reason 2 is a joke. Have you tried using a PC interface on a tablet or phone? You complane about using W8 on a PC, but at lease you can jump out of metro for your mouse, or back if you are using a touch screen. and Linux doesn't even have one interface. How many differend DE's have been mentioned in this discussion already.

seven2seven
seven2seven

When it comes to desktop/laptop use then Linux = mechanic's special = "Ain't no body got time for that"

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

China used to have it own distro of Linux. They basically through it away when MS gave them extremely cheap licensing. The real problem with Linux is that people expect everything to be free and companies can't stay in business or make much money if everything is free. Build licensing into apt and then more companies may be willing to build software for Linux. Make it a store inside a repository similar to what Apple and Google have done with smart phones. Once developers realize they can make money on Linux they will flock to the platform. Bill

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

The dizzying array of distros and add-ons are making it difficult for Linux to make any serious inroads outside of "geekdom". Yes MS re-does Windows every few years - but a version of Windows is a version of Windows. There are no extra add-ons or different interfaces that are needed to make the OS more "user friendly". Until Linux is just Linux the way that Windows is just Windows or the Apple OS is just the Apple OS - Linux in any flavor will struggle. Quotes from within these article comments: "Cinnamon on top of Linux Mint Debian is far more user-friendly in my book." "I recommend Mageia for it's good mix of user friendliness and real Linux power." "I've moved to Cinnamon on Ubuntu ... getting there, and 1.8 another leap forward." "Ubuntu on desk/lap box is adequate once one blows away Unity." Continued comments like these demonstrate the vast disparity and fracturing in the Linux world. A smart guy named Abraham Lincoln once said "A house divided against itself cannot stand," That is the biggest problem with widespread Linux adoption.

Gisabun
Gisabun

So Ubunto may may convert a few who are already using Linux. But don't expect many using Macs or Windows to jump ship. Every never version comes out and every time someone at TR says it is the best ever and will have people switching over to it en mass. And yet, Linux [all distros combined] can't get much more than 1.2% of the OS marketshare.

pfeiffep
pfeiffep

I tried to use Ubuntu with unity and didn't like it, so I looked for another desktop environment and found that cinnamon works exactly to suit my needs. It's easy to install and takes full advantage of Ubuntu 13.04 and provides a pleasing DE!

pgit
pgit

KDE is working on making the DE the focus of your work flow. It'll have tools like notes, email, basic word processing etc all integrated with the DE itself. All you'd need is a very minimal kernel and KDE... and you're in business. Plus you'd be able to add any apps you would on any distro, from office suites to admin tools. It'd be nice to see where they are at with this and what kind of time frame they're looking at vis RTM.

M Wagner
M Wagner

After all, this is how Linux is perceived by the uninitiated - a clone of a product "born" in 1969. Of course, there is plenty of room for Linux in the enterprise machine room. Especially if there is a lot of research done in that machine room. Android and Chrome OS were born out of Linux so it strikes me as disingenuous to claim that Canonical will be the first to put Linux on every device. You mentioned Red Hat for their success in the enterprise but this is because Red Hat understands the enterprise - its needs and the value of Linux to the enterprise which requires high-performance computing. In order for Android, iOS, ChromeOS (and even Windows RT) to run well on mobile devices, they must be stripped of the underpinnings that make Linux (and Windows & MacOSX) extremely flexible platforms - Preemptive Multitasking. In essence, this is why Android & ChromeOS can no longer be referred to as Linux. It will be no easier to port Ubuntu to these mobile devices than it was for Google. Canonical has making these claims for years - and, in the consumer space. Ubuntu is probably the best of the lot. Certainly, others have tried and failed, and, like Canonical, they all made the right arguments but the situation stays the same. Worldwide, Linux market share is still under 2%. The consumer space is just a tough nut to crack.

eric.broszeit
eric.broszeit

You can't praise Unbuntu without everyone chiming in about how some other Debian based intro is more friendly or how much they hate Unity. Give it a rest. I actually got used to Unity, and using something else really isn't that hard. Nor does Unity or Gnome have anything to do with this story. As for other distros, they aren't putting things out on mobile or doing the things Canonical is. Besides, we have enough of a petty war between OSes, we don't need an even more petty war between distros.

sunil_sabat
sunil_sabat

Agreed. Let me give international perspective. I was on Asia trip recently. Developers in Asia ( India, China etc. ) and other countries now use Ubuntu as standard interface on their laptops for regular work, It does not mean Windows is behind. If it is a .net driven windows IT shop, it is all Windows 8 or 7. I myself like Windows 8 pro for price and features. Non-developers ( sales, operations and marketing mgmt) there still use Windows cool laptops and iPads as cohorts. Here, in US, I see both developers and executives use Mac pro with guest Windows 7/8 as needed. Ubuntu here is still a core developer and admin first install OS. It is not mainstream yet. Fedora/Centos give good competition here, but not outside US.

ejmfoley
ejmfoley

If a program isn't in the Software Center, it's a pain for non-techs to load. If Granny has to use the command line to play Spades, you'll never see mass adoption.

Jeff_D_Programmer
Jeff_D_Programmer

Yes, many devices currently run Linux. No, most users don't recognize or even notice what OS is on "most devices". However, every time a general public goes to buy a computer and the salesman suggests Linux, the first question they ask is "Does it run Microsoft Office?" When they hear, "It runs a word processing program LIKE Office...", they respond with "Give me Windows". Sux but true.

Robynsveil
Robynsveil

Mac, this is 'news' to people who feel strongly (or labour under the misconceptions) that: 1) Redmond products are the end-all/be-all of computing or who 2) believe all the FUD spread about Linux (insecure/fragmentation/yadayada) or, most probably, 3) have invested heavily in Redmond products and don't like to think that was a bad investment. The facts on how many Linux users are out there are going to be typically different to what gets said on here, since there is really no way to accurately tabulate an OS for end-users on the PC that boasts no "market share". A community-based effort that has the repercussions of a faltering economy as a motivator cannot help but be successful. No one saw Android coming, yet look at it. Of course, that flavour of Linux is much easier to tabulate: how *does* one track an OS that is neither bought or sold (for the most part, for PCs), can be legally downloaded once and installed on multiple PCs legally, where there is no licencing requirements (except GPL)... answer is: you can't.

Dave Keays
Dave Keays

I've been locked out of a computer, denied access to a document, lost power in a building, or lost access to a storage device too many times for me to be comfortable not having printed copies of anything important or difficult to read on a computer screen. I use a printer less than I used to, but it is still an important part of my setup. I use it for 1) a newsletter that is more readable than most today (Cryptogram being the most readable newsletter I've seen), 2) a BLOG I'm writing that needs to be proof-read, 3) something I've run across on the Internet that is either too long to read on one or too screens or I want to save the information, 4) coupons, 5) maps I don't already have printed .

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Also worksheets for the fantasy racing leagues I'm in. A few times a year I'll print maps. But yeah, a print cartridge usually lasts over a year for me.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

Will you come back and try again? That's the most misinformed and completely baseless rubbish I've read here in ages. You should try getting some experience first instead of repeating someone else's misinformed garbage over and over again.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

It's the same argument: Too many color choices with cars. Convertibles vs hardtops -- confusing. A straight-4 or a V6? Too much for the consumer to decide. They keep modifying the styling -- what? they haven't gotten it right yet? The car's a sedan, but they offer it as a station wagon or a 2-door -- my gosh all that is the biggest problem with widespread automobile adoption. Etc. Same argument. Same FUD. Same old same old attack on Linux that doesn't hold up. If it's too dizzying for you, here's your solution: Download & install Mint. Done.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm not trying to start a Windows bashfest, but have you looked at W8? The transition from 3.1 to 95 was pretty rocky too.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

My Linux machine runs MS Office -- natively. No need for Windows. I use Crossover, which makes it easy to install (using a GUI), has full support (phone, email -- which I've never needed to use). Just as easy as a Windows machine. Other people prefer to use a virtual machine (and make use of their Windows license for something); I've done both.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

people understand cars. They understand their engine options, the difference between standard and automatic transmissions, that different levels of interior option packages are available, which categories are suited for different jobs. They don't 'get' computers. I see people daily that refer to their desktop system as the 'hard drive', that can't differentiate between the operating system and the applications, that say their documents are 'in' Word. These people would be very confused if they had to pick a Linux distribution, and very intimidated at the thought of installing one. If the only flavor of ice cream you'd ever known was vanilla, you'd go into brain lock on your first trip to Baskin-Robbins 31 Flavors.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

You have to spend time choosing the right set up with a 'nix box, no matter what distro you use, but geeks like to fiddle anyway and that's appealing in the Linux world. However, if you have to make a single keystroke to tweak Windows, MS has failed the people and all will run screaming to Linux. I heard the sky was falling when I was 6, it hasn't yet.

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

What I am saying is that Windows is a known entity. Windows XP is Windows XP, Win7 is Win7 - IMO Win8 sucks, but it is still what it is. Linux is Red Hat, or it might be Debian, or it could be Ubuntu, or Mint or Fedora. Most "non-geek" people have not even heard of most of these different distros.

Jeff_D_Programmer
Jeff_D_Programmer

No, your Linux machine doesn't run Office, it runs Crossover. And there is no way that the average user is going to understand how or why to use Crossover (much less a VM). I have been reading most of the comments for this post and many angles have approached this same issue, using various alternate concepts such as cars to make the point clearer - but here it is in a nutshell: people want to turn on their machine, click the mouse (or touch the screen) and just have it work. They don't care or even want to know how or why it works. That's why Apple was an instant hit when it was introduced even though it was (for all intents and purposes,) welded shut. To go back to the car allegory, almost no one understands the intricacies of how their car works. They take it to an oil change shop on a schedule, and to a mechanic when the lights blink on the dashboard. Car companies, driven by sales and profits, have created cars that you don't have to understand to use. Linux, on the other hand, is a wonderful machine built by mechanics FOR MECHANICS. No amount of automating the system will change that until the people designing Linux are driven by sales/profits - instead of cutting edge functionality and "geeky coolness". And THAT won't come until Linux is a boxed and labelled FOR PROFIT product. The beauty and disgrace of capitalism is that it forces capitalists to produce what sells, with little regard to quality or usefulness. Linux, by attempting to circumscribe capitalism has also side-stepped the forced evolution that would make it truly competitive.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

They were proven safety measures worldwide for decades before America agreed and started using them too. FUD is a key for most of today's society to live by. Everything's already been invented, there's nothing else to do but more of the same and complain to anyone who wants to change things. Glad this wasn't the mindset in the 70's and 80's when all the stoners and hippies reinvented the way society handles information and built a new world for today's complacent followers to enjoy.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

For the "base" or initial installation, I agree. But who among us uses a machine after a clean install of the OS -- without customizing, adding apps that they need, configuring printing, adding devices, drivers, codecs, etc.? Not I... Ubuntu is remarkably easy to install, sure. Play a Flash video in a browser afterwards? Nope. No Flash installed by default; Chrome has it built in, but it's not only not installed by default, Chrome is not in the repos. There are "extra steps" needed, and what's needed depends on what you want to add. Will a consumer know how to do this? After all, it's not done via the familiar Windows ways. ;^) I wrote myself a script that automates installing a bunch of apps & packages, to be run after the initial installation. (Basically batch installation of things in and not in the Ubuntu Software Center.) This certainly is not "consumer-friendly". But to be fair, there are technical/legal reasons why some "expected" functions aren't in the initial install. Yet the OS doesn't reveal this. The Ubuntu Software Center has made enormous strides in helping users find/install packages easily -- but it doesn't tell them what they need for common activities (e.g., multi-media-oriented things immediately come to mind). This is mitigated by many helpful websites that provide guides and how-tos for customizing Ubuntu after installing it. But again: You have to know to go look for this and be able to judge what to follow, which to do, etc. The OS doesn't tell you, and it doesn't mimic what's familiar for many Windows users. So here's where those who talk about "confusion of choices" have a good point that I'm going to agree with. I've studied the subject, so I can make quick recommendations and apply expertise in doing the installs. There are some Linux apps that are worthwhile that are not easy installs. All that complicates the subject of "installation" -- and Windows has its set of these issues, too, just different ones. Neither OS is perfect. I've built many Ubuntu systems for many people, and once I deliver the results, they run basically trouble-free for months/years. (Yes, like Win7 can/does, if used carefully.) That part is very consumer-friendly. But I wouldn't ask the Average Joe to take care of the whole of it themselves. Some of this can and should be improved on by the OS providers, and much of it is the responsibility of the package providers themselves. It's improving... My concern is that the simple, easy initial install of Ubuntu can lead consumers into thinking that "they're done", when I find many users need a "finishing install" to get the machine to what they expect to have for a desktop platform. Perhaps all this is indeed a minor quibble, but it also goes towards "initial impressions" and Windows-based expectations that guide many people in figuring things out and adapting. My experience with others showed me that success in migrating from Windows to Linux was greatest if I helped get things installed for them (and is why being able to buy a pre-install is a very strong argument for adoption rates). For those already used to using Linux, or a tech type, it's a quibble.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I don't think installing a consumer-grade distribution is any harder (or easier) than installing Windows from scratch. Drivers are the biggest possible pain point with either one. Systems from major vendors usually include either a driver disk or a utility to build a one, even if most consumers aren't going to keep / create one anyway. But then, most consumers are no more likely to install / reinstall Windows from scratch than they are Linux anyway.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

2003? You're probably thinking SP1 or SP2 -- which is when it gained enough stability, etc. to be usable; I didn't switch to it until then myself. (Per Wikipedia: "Windows XP was released worldwide for retail sale on October 25, 2001".) Yes, I agree with your point that most manufacturers "simplify" choices for consumer with "take what we give you" (though most did & still do offer a choice during major version transitions -- as you mentioned, you can still order Win7 or get Win8 on a PC you order today). And regardless of the impression I may have been giving in my pushback, I *do* understand the confusion factor with choices, including those of Linux distros. It's real, sure. But if we concede that most consumers don't know anything about Linux, they likely don't know "all these distros" -- can the average person name even 3? Not likely. So what *would* they likely 'know' (about) if asked? Probably either 'Fedora' ('Red Hat') or 'Ubuntu' -- because those are front-runners. ...which also makes them the most polished for non-tech use; the others are niche-y and can be reasonably expected to only draw interest from the tech crowd. That's fine, but I don't think it's confusing for a consumer, either. (Cars have their hot-rod/customization subculture; most Windows users know about or use Photoshop, but there are many other image apps which aren't popular for all these reasons.) Which leads to your other point: Marketing, promotion, and helping consumers become aware. I also agree with you & others posting here that this is the single biggest "problem" with Linux -- and I agree that Canonical should pony up some cash to buy some advertising and start changing that. That will make the difference. The other FUD has been sufficiently dealt with; Shuttleworth should pick a date and declare it's time to widen their market. Ubuntu is in the best position to do this. Not only is this needed, but it also should start now because there's a sea change occurring in platforms, Win8 is having issues, etc., so it's a ripe opportunity. And I would say the Linux world & its offerings are mature enough to start working through issues that non-technical consumers will bring up. (Yet installation still needs work; my opinion is that this is Linux's biggest technical issue to be dealt with.) Lastly, you *can* buy systems with Linux pre-installed (and supported). System76, et al are Linux-based PC vendors -- but still suffer from lack of market exposure; who's heard of them? Yet Dell has, and still does, offer systems with Ubuntu pre-installed. Problem there is the same: They're not promoting it. And I suspect there's MS politics weighing heavily on that decision... The next 12 months are going to be interesting! :^)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"Because in 2001, we had: Windows 98 SE (most people's "head start"), Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, with "too many choices" and "lack of familiarity"." First, XP wasn't released until 2003. Second, regarding the other three, consumers could only purchase a new computer with 2000. They didn't have to make a decision between them; indeed, they COULDN'T choose between them. They accepted the version installed on the system when they bought it. They still do today. That's another reason they find choosing a distro to be confusing. Unlike selecting different features at the auto dealership, the Big Box and online computer retailers don't offer them a choice of OS. Sure, you can dig around and still find W7 systems online, but unless you do then you get W8 by default. If you don't know you have even that limited option, you take what comes on the box. "The inertia factor and "what I use at work" are what I personally think are the biggest reasons..." I agree. I think we differ on the weight of these individual factors. I think the lack of marketing / consumer education, and the inability to purchase a new system with Linux pre-installed, are the biggest stumbling blocks. Pre-installation would spare the consumer the distro decision.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Okay, that's a line of reasoning I can digest. :^) There may (or may not) be benefits and advantages of one OS over the other, but the grip of market share makes a good substitute for a full-blown monopoly... There's no longer an argument that says, "But Linux won't run my Windows app, ____", because today, you have multiple (no-cost) methods to do that. Getting back to your point, though, this doesn't help if they don't know about it. It's a matter of awareness and exposure, not a matter of "too many choices" or "not already familiar" leading to "can't gain public acceptance". Because in 2001, we had: Windows 98 SE (most people's "head start"), Windows ME, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, with "too many choices" and "lack of familiarity". By many arguments in this thread, that would have at least killed widespread WinXP acceptance, if not caused Windows to implode altogether. Of course, that didn't happen -- with or without horses and cars. The inertia factor and "what I use at work" are what I personally think are the biggest reasons -- not the array of Linux distros, not the misconception that you can't run Windows apps if you boot Linux, etc. I've nothing against Windows personally; I use Win7 every day at work, and I like it. (Best OS that MS has produced, I'd say.) I still run Linux in a virtual machine to surf the web safely, write code with, access other machines, etc.) And I don't think there will every be a "Year of the Linux Desktop". It won't suddenly materialize like a new haircut; it will slowly appear like hair growing longer. No one will be able to even look back in time and say, "That was the year.." Doesn't work that way. As more people discover that it's as viable and alternative as Windows & Mac, get introduced to it, or get fed up and go looking, it's market share will grow. Because it's proven that it can do the job, do as good (or better) a job, and "the price is right". If it couldn't, the market will speak its judgement. And that applies to Windows as well -- regardless of how "familiar" it is now.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Is that a clever analogy to the various ways an operating system crashes? :^D

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Many people didn't understand the difference between a Stanley Steamer and a Karl Benz motor vehicle. Both where cars and both where radically different but at the time when they where new late 19th or early 20th Century they where just a Horseless Carriage. One being a Petrol Engine was run on Explosions which caused much concern as it was surmised at the time that the vehicle has the possibility of Exploding if the Explosions that powered the vehicle ever escaped the Cylinder or as the people of the time thought Engine. On the other hand the early Stanly Steamers did explode till they found a way of making a light and strong Water Vessel that didn't explode when heat was applied above a certain level but they where never as such thought of as dangerous just yet not fully developed/perfected. Col

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think it was easier for people to understand the differences between horses and cars than between Windows and Linux, and to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. They at least understood the horse, so they had a starting point. I don't think they really 'get' Windows to begin with, and either can't relate to how Linux may benefit them or (like me) don't regard the benefits as worth the cost of changing. They want to run those name-brand programs that they've heard of or use at work, even if the open source alternatives may be more than adequate for their needs. There's also the inertia / comfort factor, especially for those who use only Windows at work. I have nothing against Linux and wouldn't object to it gaining a stronger foothold on both consumer and workplace desktops. Excuse me if I've grown cynical in my old age, but I've been hearing these Pollyanna 'Year of the Linux Desktop' predictions for over a decade, and nothing has happened. The market share remains around two percent. Linux is a huge hit in the server room and on dedicated single-use systems. Does the desktop front really matter?

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_automobile Excerpt: A "dizzying assortment of technologies were being produced by hundreds of producers all over the western world. Steam, electricity, and petrol/gasoline-powered automobiles competed for decades, with petrol/gasoline internal combustion engines achieving dominance in the 1910s. Dual- and even quad-engine cars were designed, and engine displacement ranged to more than a dozen litres. Many modern advances, including gas/electric hybrids, multi-valve engines, overhead camshafts, and four-wheel drive, were attempted, and discarded at this time. Innovation was rapid and rampant, with no clear standards for basic vehicle architectures, body styles, construction materials, or controls." That would have been enough to make a consumer's head spin with confusion, back when autos were not the familiar, every-day, heavily standardized items they are today. The argument that I'm being offered that states "the general public will never adopt 'X' because they're not already familiar with 'X'", where 'X'='Linux' is *fallacious* (this is my point) -- and just as fallacious when 'X'='Windows 8' (today), 'X'='Windows XP' (circa 2001), or 'X'='automobiles' (circa 1910). It's all the same argument... The last two examples should help make this more obvious. The examples of Linux & Windows 8 are less obvious only because they have yet to play out (fully) -- but it's still a fallacy to argue along these lines. I've nothing against those who are skeptical regarding wide-spread acceptance of Linux as a desktop operating system; I just want to hear a cogent argument for this opinion.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"There were a more dizzying array of car options in the early part of the 20th Century than there are today!" Documentation, please.

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

and against car adoption 100 years ago. After all, 100 years ago, people did NOT understand cars -- or their engine options, transmissions, interior packages, etc. They didn't 'get' cars then. But they do now. Did the car industry have to change to make one engine, one style, one color, one interior, all in order to help cars gain 'understanding' and acceptance? (There were a more dizzying array of car options in the early part of the 20th Century than there are today!) No... People learned, and eventually gave up riding horses. So too with computer operating systems. And Microsoft fails to "present a single, unified desktop product", etc. Shall we tar them with the same brush of Linux FUD? I guess we'll have to...

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

what color your car is doesn't change how you drive it. Even if people don't understand cars - picking a different body style doesn't mean the gas pedal is in a different place or that you need to hold the steering wheel differently. Wide adoption means that end users and corporations will install and use Linux. Until the Linux camp can present a single, unified desktop product, that can be reasonably supported by a global help desk, Linux will have a hard time leaving the datacenter

SmartAceW0LF
SmartAceW0LF

be careful of your choice of words. You never know which ones you may have to eat. Some build a regular smorgasbord of possibilities. Just saying. Humor me for a moment though. You mention a Start Menu earlier as a choice within Windows 8. Do pray tell where this "menu" is. Yours is the first I have heard of such. As for tweaking Windows 8. What tweak? There is simply no getting around the tiles. While you and a few others who envision the dominance of mobile devices in the PC world may love Windows 8, it would appear there are at least as many that feel otherwise. And that is a conservative estimate. You tout Windows 8 as some sort of magnificent new Desktop Environment as though any one who fails to see the point you make about it is blind or stupid. You like it, USE IT! You appreciate emulation over innovation then by all means continue to herald your praise to the Almighty MS. In the meantime there are those of us who refuse to follow blindly along like sheep and deal with the crap we continue to see thrown before us by corporations like MS. Does that really disturb you somehow? Apparently it does. For someone whose profile -at first- has the sense of being that of a free thinker, you sure are narrow in the vision you pigeon-hole others into. Yours is not the ONLY way. Come down off that high horse man.

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

For years, MS has done everything in their power to get users from using business focused products at home and buying into their consumer focused lines. They tried to get people away from Win2K at home by releasing the heavily stripped and rather useless Windows ME. When it proved a bad mistake, they brought out XP for consumers but it was the first consumer based product to use the NT kernel, which was supposed to make it as stable as their business focused software, much to users dismay. XP was a horror show for years until hey finally fixed it. IN other words, Microsoft has been working on getting consumer grade products out to the masses of home users for over 13 years already. This isn't a new angle for them. As for tiles, come on, you are NOT serious! You can mouse click tiles too and once you've played for a bit you'd realize just how convenient it really is, a serious time saver. You don't even have to open apps to see what is going on now. The user interface is to tie in with the force of computing becoming mobile focused. You can still use it as a regular desktop, WITH OR WITHOUT A TOUCH SCREEN, and only one click opens up a Start menu if people are having issues. [i]"Our users do not have touch screen PCs, and the new tiled environment would need to be disabled out of the box."[/i] Why? You don't need a touch screen to use tiles. If it is a user training issue, if it takes weeks for your users to figure out such a simple navigation change, maybe they should all be wearing hockey helmets and making wooden toys for a living. I had an somewhat similar issue with a group of users about 12 years ago, I decided to train them on how to use their PC's and they adapted to XP without too many problems (just the crappy OS issues). Keep in mind that a lot was moved and changed between Win2K and XP too. So as I thought, you were speaking based on misinformation and a lack of real time personal experience, as do most with respect to Win8. If you fear change too, that's just fine, you are certainly not alone, in fact you'd have more company than those who welcome change. As far as Win8 being "crap" simply because you aren't familiar with it though, it's just a false and misleading statement all around.

dave the IT guy
dave the IT guy

Microsoft has a taken a hard left turn with the new version of Windows. The focus for years has been on business users because that this where the $$$ is. Windows 8 with the tile based interface as default and its focus on a touch interface is moving more in the direction of Apple - being focused on the consumer. As a technician in a multinational enterprise environment - I cannot see where any of the widely touted new features will have any place in a corporate network. Our users do not have touch screen PCs, and the new tiled environment would need to be disabled out of the box. Otherwise we would see productivity of our people take a massive nosedive as they spend weeks trying to figure out the new GUI. Users in most corporate networks are not necessarily computer savvy. We have several users who call the helpdesk because their computer is broken when the truth is that the shortcut that they use every day to launch an application got moved to a new spot on the desktop. If that is the case - how will they handle working with tiles??

aidemzo_adanac
aidemzo_adanac

Clearly with such a title you have a fair amount of personal experience with Windows 8. What, may I ask, should I be afraid of when considering Windows8? You say it sucks, which I believe from anyone who deems themselves 'the IT guy". Can you elaborate?

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

Not. But if we get painted into a corner and have to defend that "yes it is!", then we're also forced to concede that Linux is a known entity, too. Ooops. I'm not saying that Linux is better, but ...

Brainstorms
Brainstorms

You're either unfamiliar with Linux, or you're unfamiliar with Wine. My Linux does not *run* Crossover; Crossover (Wine) is not an emulator, nor is it a program. Crossover provides Linux with a Windows API and set of DLLs so that, yes, Linux can & does execute Microsoft Office *directly*. Natively. To say that "no way the average user is going to understand how or why to use Crossover" is cynical. The concept is simple: "Do you want to run a Windows application?" -> "Install Crossover, then you can install and run your Windows application". Installation is drop-dead simple, and the Crossover GUI makes installing Windows applications also click-click-click simple. The category of individuals who can't handle the above will also be flummoxed by the general principles of using a pure Windows machine. Windows also fails to fulfill on your ideal of a machine that can be turned on to 'just work'. Even a Mac will struggle to fill that bill: As far as I know, they do not come with Microsoft products pre-installed, any more than Windows comes with a free installation of Office. (If you wish to go down to road of "Well, they can order it with those things pre-installed", then we're back to "Well, they can order their Linux machine with that pre-installed"; it's left as an exercise for you to Google your local computer stores for any examples demanded, or doing the surfing. This will get you started: http://linuxpreloaded.com/.) So your criticism also criticizes the situation with Windows, leaving these users to either buy a "welded shut" Mac to hold their hands the entire way, or (better yet) to buy a Google Chromebook and dispense with an operating system entirely. Chromebooks literally allow a new user to "turn on the machine, click the mouse (or touch the touchpad) and just have it work. They don't even have to care or even need to know how or why it works. That's why Chromebooks are such a big hit now." Chromebooks have been the best-selling laptop on Amazon for months. And they have MS Office-compatible apps pre-installed. Just as consumer "desktop" Linux distros have MS Office-compatible apps pre-installed. And is ChromeOS a version of Mac? No. A version of Windows? No. Android? No. A new OS that Google wrote? No. What is it? It's Ubuntu Linux. Linux. Linux that grandmas can use, with "no understanding or caring about how it works". Sure, Linux got its start being built by techies for techies. MS got its start similarly, as did Apple. Today, all of them --Linux included-- cater to everyone, techies, consumers, S&M businesses, and enterprises. To say that Linux will neither improve nor cater to consumers unless there's a direct profit connection to motivate it is not only cynical, it's historically wrong. Your take on Linux (and capitalism) is tantamount to saying "No one will raise children to be successful citizens unless they're being paid a profit to do so." And last I checked, the Linux world is not attempting to circumvent capitalism; there are corporations out there making billions from it. Profitably.