I kind of agree

Story: Is Linux Really Outgrowing Its Stereotypes? Does It Matter?Total Replies: 4
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Apr 23, 2008
10:10 AM EDT
First a definition: Average User- 95% of people who use computer, don't care how it works, and have absolutely no desire to tinker with it. They own a personal computer or laptop, and it does the stuff they need it to.

All instances of the word "user" or "users" in this post carry this meaning.

Now the post: The thing I'm trying to understand, is why "linux (as an OS) desktop penetration" matters?

What matters is sales of devices.

If I'm going to market a device to users, such as a laptop, my natural choice of OS to push with it would be linux. I'm a geek and know what I'm doing. I wouldn't want to pay MS a tithe to sell my hardware. That being said, the word "Linux" wouldn't appear in my ad copy. It doesn't have to.

Evangelizing to users about FOSS and trying to get them to install a new operating system is a bit like talking to your rock garden. Sell them a sweet laptop for $200 less than the nearest competitor, which looks as good as and has the same features as a MacBook Air, which quadruples the functionality of the more expensive laptop with Windows, and they get it.

They don't understand or even care why linux is a better OS. You could explain it to them, talk about FOSS philosophy, security, and all that happy stuff, and they might be able to regurgitate what you said to them, but they won't grok it. To understand it, you need to care enough about it to process the info and come to a conclusion.

What most users do understand and care about is a feature rich device that does everything they want it to, which costs less. That's why they buy it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is what really matters is price, utility, aesthetics, and apparent quality. If your device has superior utility, at a better price, people will buy it, especially if it's slick and well built.

The operating system itself is nearly completely irrelevant to most users. They want a pimping laptop, with a slick interface, and lots of software to do things with it. The fact that Apple sells anything at all is proof of this. Look at the iPod, look at the MacBook Air. They are pimping, slick, easy to use, and you can build home movies with them, get your email, stay in touch with friends, surf the internet, or listen to your music.

Most users aren't going to fundamentally change an existing device. Over time it becomes a trusted friend to them.

They use it for 2-5 years and sell or give it away depending on whether it's still working or not. Why should they mess with something they don't understand, void their warranty and possibly end up with a boat anchor?

In a nutshell, Linux, because it isn't owned by a corporate entity, can only enjoy consumer desktop penetration by extension. What I mean by that is there needs to be more devices like the Acer EEE that people find irresistable and less duds like the beigebox linspire pcs.

The only way it can happen is if the whiteboxers, Dells and HPs of the world offer both, the linux is well done, and is cheaper. The embedded guys have got it right.

Therein lies the rub. To get a linux done well, you need to put some time and effort into the build on your hardware. This extra time and effort costs money and requires personnel, that aren't exactly a dime a dozen, to architect and get it right.

This is what's slowing down linux on the desktop. It's got nothing to do with marketing because users don't go out and buy (or download) an OS then install it, they buy laptops, pcs and devices. The OS is "just there", it's not something they want to deal with. That's the job of the device maker, you know to make the device functional?

This is precisely why MS locked all these VAR's and box makers into exclusivity deals. They know the average user doesn't give a rat's ass about windows, linux, or Microsoft. Users will happily accept anything you put on there, as long as it works and does what they need.

I'm not trying to say that users are mindless zombies with no curiosity, but OS's (and installing them) are something that most have no desire or interest to play around with. Most have memories of Uncle Joe (or whoever) reinstalling windows and botching the job. They just don't want to go there unless the system doesn't work.

When this happens, often it's a 5 year old machine which they relegate to a closet, and they get a new one. Whether or not it's running linux doesn't even matter. What does is what can it do for them, how much does it cost, and how bad ass is it?


Apr 23, 2008
2:01 PM EDT
Exactly my thoughts. This is what I'm finding as I sell people Linux conversions, they don't really care wht the OS is as long as it works and doesn't catch colds. So long as they can do what they need to do. If it looks good that's a plus, if it looks really cool, or it works faster than the one we have at home, then the grand kids love it too.

Apr 23, 2008
6:59 PM EDT
I think the near future for Linux is in products like the Asus Eee -- anything that comes preloaded and fully configured so everything works (monitor resolution, suspend/resume, cpu frequency scaling, WiFi with WPA).

Apr 23, 2008
7:08 PM EDT
Quoting: I think the near future for Linux is in products like the Asus Eee

That, the Everex gbook, there are several others. I also think Linux has a great chance on the high end in part because it makes such efficient use of the hardware. And if you sell Linux preinstalled, you get a huge potential market. You get those people who want that particular distro preinstalled, people who just want a good product (what da heck's an OS??) and those who want something good to install Distribution X on. System76 and ZaReason sell Ubuntu preinstalled, but I wager that a large percentage wipe that off (I would) and put something else on, be it Mandriva, Mepis, Debian, Slackware, SUSE, etc...if you build a system compatible with Linux X, it should work with Linux Y and Linux Z. Hardware on the higher end (nothing from System76 is cheap...affordable, but not cheap) has a larger profit margin and you can make a bundle if you can start selling numbers in the millions. After watching Apple make a bundle on the Mac (yes, and iPod and iPhone also), how could Dell/HP/IBM/Sun/ETC not want a piece of that pie? I just don't get it.....

Apr 23, 2008
7:13 PM EDT
Yeah, something on the high end, for the desktop, with Linux. That would be great.

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