Monday, 25 February 2013

The Future of Linux Pt 6 [Guest Post]

Continuing a series of guest posts sparked by a discussion over at the Hampshire Linux User Group. This time, Alan Pope ( responds to Ally Biggs question.

Do you guys ever think there will be a day that Linux will be as popular as Windows in the desktop market.

Given Windows has ~90%+ market share, I fail to see how mathematically any other distro can be "as popular" as Windows without Windows disappearing completely. Won't happen.

However if your question was "will there be a day when Linux has comparable market share to Windows on the desktop" I'd probably say no, but be hopeful that we can get a better chunk of the market than we currently have.

I recently (1.5 years ago) installed Ubuntu for a retired chap who had only ever used Windows. He requested it because he was sick of viruses and slow-downs of Windows. I printed out a getting started guide and allocated ~2 hours to walk him through the basics of Ubuntu.

I'd no sooner finished my tea when he said "ok, I think I have got it all" and I left. I've so far had two support requests from him, which was to clarify a webcam issue with Skype and to confirm that he should be installing updates when prompted to. He's still using it.

One persons nightmare is another persons dream.

The thing which bothers me though about Linux ok it's free and if you have the skills you can do great things but why isn't it being adopted more for everyday use. Also why don't the developers standardise a distribution for the home user i.e. same package manager and packages.

Because history, ego, momentum and coprorate requirements.

It's a giant misconception that "Windows = works", "Linux = OMG! It's broken, I need a nerd!".

Ordinary people who use Windows have just the same anxiety about their systems as ordinary people who use Linux. They will speak to a techy nerd at work, or someone in their family for support. Same goes for a non-expert using a smartphone (of any ilk) for the first time.

I still get requests for Windows support from my father-in-law, some years after I told him I didn't want to support it anymore. Some of these issues (poor wifi connection, bad printer support, video driver issues) are exactly the same issues that we have on Linux.

The way to fix the issue differs, but it's still the same warm body wearing a geeky t-shirt who fixes it, irrespective of the OS or hardware involved.

The other problem I found is the community alot of people expect you to be some kind of command line genius who is capable of reciting the whole encyclopaedia of man pages. So when you ask for help or guidance you often get a dismissive response.

Those people are dicks. Avoid them. :)

Documentation is horrendous aswell especially if you are making the transition from Windows. Pick up a starting to learn Linux book and a couple of pages in you end up with the worlds worst headache.

Depends on the book. This is a good one:

So how did you guys learn Linux?
Installed it and played with it for oh, uhm 15 years or so. Still not an expert.

Cheers. AP

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