Linux, Not for Granny
First a Caveat
This hub is a repost of something I wrote and posted at a different site where I sometimes blog. I am reposting it here to let a new audience have a chance to read and comment on it. One last thing before we get on with this, This post for the most part does not apply to Ubuntu Linux, I have used Ubuntu very little and therefore can not say how this post relates to that Linux distro (as was pointed out to me time and again in the comments of my original posting of this piece).
Why not Linux
I love Linux. Now, that being said, I have to say that without some major work it will never become a "mainstream" OS.
I can hear the arguments now: It's free!!, Mac is based on it, it's gotten much easier to use, it is much more secure than windows and, of course, no BSOD.
Now, much as it pains me, I will list why each of those reasons for getting Linux will not (and should not) convince anyone but the computer savvy to switch.
1. Linux is Free!! Yes Linux is free, unless your time is too valuable to sit downloading a copy of the distro of your choice. Face it most computer users can barely get their favorite games to play or their favorite music burned much less download and burn an entire linux distro which can run up to 6 CDs. By the time the average user can figure all of this out and then accomplish it the next version of windows will be out (and if you believe in time is money axiom that means the "free" Linux they just downloaded cost them a bundle). Also you need to consider the need that many of these people will have for actual tech support. Yes, there are forums that can help but your average user will not be comfortable without a techie they can call, and while they can get that with some distros, that costs money, not as much as Windows but it is no longer the touted "free" OS either.
2. Macs are based on it. Yeah, true, sorta. In the real world, trying to compare owning and running a mac to owning and running a Linux pc is similar to saying a housecat and a lion are both cats so a lion would make a great pet. While the comparison holds up technically, realistically it just doesn't wash unless you are going to hire someone to tame the beast for you.
3. It's gotten much easier to use. Ok, that statement right there should tell you something. To me it is saying that while it has been beyond the abilities of average users in the past, it is not "as bad" now. While this statement is true, what an average user defines as bad and what a Linux maven describes as "easy" are definitely two different animals. (see the above analogy involving housecats and lions if still unclear)
4. It is more secure than Windows. Again on the surface this is a basically true statement. However, when you are talking about a user who barely understands how to work a firewall or antivirus in Windows much less exactly what these things actually do, well you are just setting that person up to be eaten alive by any Linux user out there that wants to "own" them.
5. No BSOD. Having used Linux off and on for a number of years now I must admit this is entirely true. That is not however, saying that Linux does not crash, it is only saying Linux (and Macs) just crash differently, for crash they do!! I run a Windows XP machine alongside my Linux box (currently loaded with Zenwalk and in the past I have used Fedora Core, Redhat, and Mandriva among others) and I have actually had fewer crashes with the XP machine than the Linux.
6. BONUS. This is a bonus problem for actually converting Windows users to Linux. Think about trying to explain to Grandma Ethel how to get Java or Macromedia software running on her Linux!
So while I do love my Linux, it's price and flexibility I do not believe it is for everyone.