The year of Linux – When will it be?

Every year, there is talk of how Linux is poised to take the world by storm, and after close to twenty years of existence, Linux is still waiting for this day. I have always wondered; when is the year of Linux going to be? Most fanatic Linux proponents seem to get some consolation in believing in such a day when Linux will overtake Windows in terms of market share. Well, in as much as I am a Linux proponent, I am not blind to the hard facts on the ground.
Windows is the dominant desktop OS for a reason. Despite its massive flaws, millions of people still cling to it with all their lives. Why? Because Windows was made for such people- the granny, the pregnant woman, the plumber, the guy who just got his first computer- it is to such people that Windows was made. The developers of Linux distros have got to seriously define to which segment of the market they are making their systems. If they are making it for normal people like me and the other one billion people out there, then they seriously have to focus on usability.
I know distros like Ubuntu and Fedora have done alot in terms of usability, but even those distros still have a long way to go. There simply cannot be a year of Linux when the terminal- the very nightmare of a lot of people- still dominates the Linux desktop.
There is never going to be such a  year as the year of Linux until Linux developers come to terms with the fact that they have got to make Linux for normal people. More and more people want an alternative to Windows, that is a fact, but Linux just does not seem to know how to take advantage of such shift in tastes.Until these five simple but very serious hurdles are cleared, I am afraid to say there is not going to be any such year as the year of Linux.

12 Replies to “The year of Linux – When will it be?”

  1. It already has been… Since 2000, Linux has had massive growth. Beyond that, you won't see any strides forward until at least one distro decides to make commercials during the Super Bowl.

  2. @ruel24 i wonder which distro has attained the growth you talked about. About the sponsoring of the super bowl, i guess no distro has as at now that finanancial capability

  3. The problem is far from being that. There's no real need to use the terminal when everything is working as it should. And using the terminal is not as scary as some may think.
    The problems are:
    * Lack of hardware support – getting better, but without the manufacturer support, it's just playing catch-up
    * Regressions – it hurts me to say it, but everytime I update my kernel/xorg drivers, I'm scared. There's not enough testing to ensure regression-free desktop experience

    If your hardware is supported, and you're using an older distro with few updates, Gnome is just as usable to the lame user as windows is. Even better, because the lame user has no chance in hell to remain virus free with a windows machine.

  4. These are I think the true barriers to Linux adoption:

    1. PC makers tend to bundle Windows. Although Dell is taking steps to include Linux pre-installed, a very significant number of PCs, notebooks and netbooks still come with Windows. Therefore, it takes effort to have Linux. The solution to ths is for all PCs to be unbundle from Windows and for buyers to have a choice.

    2. Widespread piracy. One of the main attractions of Linux is that it's free, but then pirated Windows and its software can also be had for free, although illegally.

    3. Lack of commercial software support. Some people can get by Open Office, but admittedly MS Office is more polished, more sophisticated (then again, I don't see MS releasing MS Office for Linux). Also, most gamers shun away from Linux not because Linux lacks games, but because the popular games are in Windows. Regarding hardware support, I think Linux is better at that than Windows: I just plug in my hardware and it's automatically detected and ready to use. In Windows, one needs to install drivers.

  5. @Yoav
    You still need the terminal sometimes for normal day to day activities like installing some apps. The terminal is not scary, but that is not what the average Joe out there thinks and it is the Linux adoption of such people that we all want.
    OEMs need to make profit, and they make profit by selling what the market demands. As an example,netbooks started off with Linux preinstalled, sales was ok. Then MS came onto the netbook scene by giving OEMs a discounted version of XP, what happened? Sales went through the roof. The market just made it clear- it wants Windows. I still strongly believe only the market can get OEMs to preinstall Linux and nothing else. So what is needed is to make Linux as "dummy" friendly as possible and then the rest will automatically follow. If the market accepts Linux, OEMs will have no option. So the focus must be on the end user, to get him hooked to it.

  6. I think the key is, as Jazon says, PC makers bundle Windows. So most people have got used to Windows, how it works and for many people change is not an option. They just stick with what they know as that's easier.
    Coupled with the fact that Windows 7 is shaping up to be a very good OS, I don't think the year of Linux is any time soon. That window of opportunity was there when Vista was around but the Linux community didn't grab it.

  7. I'd personally prefer a slowly but constant growing Linux. Ten years ago using Linux was a real Guru business now installing Linux is easier than Windows. It's only matter of continuing this way.

    Linux is widely used among who choose what OS work with. But many people think the computer like an appliance … how many people would change parts in its refrigerator or washing machine?

  8. "Every year, there is talk of how Linux is poised to take the world by storm…"

    Strange, I haven't heard this kind of talk. I used to hear many people talk about "The year of Linux", but along with better understanding of market dynamics, etc., the talk has changed to "gradual growth" some time ago.

  9. Marketing is another problem. Since the marketing budget for open-source software is in most cases non-existing, advocates of open-source must get better at using social media for promoting the capabilities of the software and communities around it. Unfortunately, many of the most knowledgeable people in open-source communities consider social media a hype and stick to mIRC or mailing lists, mainly reaching those who are already users of open source software.

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