Friday, 16 February, 2001
No Linux Desktop Yet
One reason Linux has such a good record for reliability in the business community is that it's running in tightly controlled environments: servers that don't change very often. That's all to the good, but I think its reputation will be seriously damaged if millions of average users tried to use it today. I'm not saying that it can't be made into a good desktop OS, but there's some serious work to be done. What I see of postings on the Internet indicates that most of the Linux community aren't terribly interested in addressing those problems. On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of comments that I've seen suggest that the community isn't at all interested in making the system usable by mere "lusers."
I had originally thought that Microsoft's increasingly corporate stance (its apparent push towards corporate, as opposed to individual user, environments) would push individual users and small companies towards an alternative. The only real alternatives at this time are the Macintosh and Linux. The Mac has its own culture that many people won't embrace, and an equivalent Mac is more expensive than its Intel/Windows counterpart. Linux looks like an obvious choice, but the desktop functionality just isn't there. Those in the Linux community who expect users to embrace the system on principal are dreaming. Users will not give up functionality in favor of a free (as in beer or speech) operating system. Functionality must come first. Hard as it is for the hard-core Linux hackers to admit, Windows is still a better system for actually getting work done.