I agree that the biggest problem is the lack of "linux" apps that are installable by the average user. If my wife goes to the store and buys a digital camera she expects to bring it home install the software and use her camera. All the software that comes with the camera is "windows". If I have Linux she can't just drop a CD in and install the software. She doesn't care about the PC she just wants to use the camera and edit the pics with the supplied software. It is the exact same attitude that the other 35 computer users in my extended family have.
The distros are bloated (we all know it) for this exact reason. It just needs to work when the average person installs it. If there is an inroad to be made we have to work on the average user because they are the ones that drive the software development industry.
I started with Linux around 1994 with slakware and have tried to move my main home PC to Linux ever since. Different distros and customizations. They all have their strengths but in the end there is always something that just makes me say it isn't worth it yet. It just hasn't been feasible with my family. My IPOD doesn't work on Linux without a lot of trouble. Same with my IPAQ. Telling my wife she can't run some software because linux is a better choice is not an option when she can't do what she wants to. Until we can overcome that hurdle Linux is going to be for niche players like us. I use Linux servers everyday at work and they are fantastic for what I do with them. I am able to make them do what I want.
I decided to reload one of my older systems with Ubuntu to see if it would be good for a home PC. So far I am just trying to see what can be used without any special customizations. The average user approach. It started bad when I couldn't even get it to play a DVD after installing the software. I had to search forums for 20 minutes until I found a HOWTO. Then it was edit this and that. Burning DVD's hasn't been completely successful yet even after working on it for hours. The PC is only 3 years old and is plenty capable. It is just the fact that you have to customize all these obscure settings. I haven't even made it to the Extra stuff yet because the basics are not working as expected. Granted this could be a hardware or other software problems. But, this could be anyones PC out there and word of mouth is strong. I love linux and I don't recommend it for the home user that does anything more than surf the web.
I spend all day dealing with real network and system problems and the last thing I want to do when I get home is try to figure out why I can't burn a simple DVD. It is a waste of my time when the normal windows system just works. As techies we build apps for us to use and we set up the install to be finished by someone who knows as much as we do. The average user just wants it to work.
As for security, users only care when the system doesn't work. As long as they can do what they want security is something for the computer folks to worry about. If they have to turn on printing when they connect a printer then they are going to say "why isn't it on by default, everyone has a printer". Windows has norton firewall, mcaffee, blackice and on and on. Linux has IPTABLES and the everage user doesn't have a clue about the underlying network aspect.
Sorry if it sounds like a rant but we are definitely not the average user and they are the ones that drive desktop computing.
My 2, ok, 4 cents worth....
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