One of the excuses that is always advanced for the relative unpopularity of the Linux OS is that MS has locked in the OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to only ship their units with Windows. And so you hear people complain about how bad such a practice is and how it is harming Linux.
In as much as I detest the use of market monopolistic powers to tie down the hands of someone, I disagree with that excuse about the OEMs not willing to ship Linux boxes en mass because of Windows. The point of all this is that the OEMs are first of all out there to make profits. They are not philanthropists. They have shareholders to answer to at the end of a certain period. If you were a shareholder in any of these OEMs, which would you like to see them ship, Linux or Windows?
With all these in mind, the OEMs will only do what will spur them on to maximize profitability. If shipping their units with Windows is what will make them profitable, they will do it. The OEMs are not sentimentalists, neither will they ship units with Linux because it is Open Source or that it is free. They will ship their units with only what the market wants. And as things are, the market seems to be happy with Windows and so they ship with Windows.
Using Ubuntu as the case study, we now have big shot OEMs like Dell and IBM beginning to ship units with Ubuntu Linux preinstalled. What is very clear from this development is that they are not shipping Ubuntu boxes because they believe in the Ubuntu philosophies or that because they think it is cool. They are shipping Ubuntu because there is now a nascent market for Ubuntu and hence some profit to be made.
The point I am trying to make is that I think the sentimentalism in the world of Open Source especially Linux is just beginning to get out of hand. If Linux in general is to be taken seriously, as Ubuntu is now being taken, more work has to be done to make Linux even more usable than it is now. It is not enough to sit back and blame everything on MS. Linux is good, but it has a long way to go to be known in the ‘real world.’
The Linux kernel was there for fifteen years, but it was not until the advent of Ubuntu that the masses got to know there is something called Linux. Ubuntu has so far done a good job of making Linux for the masses and is now being rewarded by having it shipped in the units of OEMs who hitherto had been happy to stick with MS Windows. So if next time you think of advancing the Linux OEM complaint, know that they will not ship Linux in this world ever until there is a readily identifiable market for Linux. Look and learn from Ubuntu.
I know you disagree with me. So just fire your disagreement to me in the comments.