14/09/2009

Linux is not ready for the mainstream

Caught your eye?

The reason I say this is not that Linux isn't quality - of course it is.
It's not that Linux isn't ready to be used by the mainstream - it is.

The problem here is that Linux doesn't want to be for the mainstream. A wide variety of developers exist, and quite a few don't wish there to be a standard. To me, a standard is what defines a product to market. But the main idea of Linux is to be free, not in the traditional cost-less sense (gratis) but in a freedom sort of way (libre). This means that people are free to do what they wish with it, and to keep it free if distributing it.

To really make it, a product should be the same on all sides, easy to use, and have a common way of working. With the ridiculous amount of desktop environments (KDE...GNOME, etc) and text editors, this standardisation idea has become a laughing stock in the face of freedom. People want different things, they work in different ways. Some will want DEB, some will want RPM. That is why there will always be a million and one different flavours of Linux. And that is why marketing Linux is always going to be difficult. Open source is all well and good (Look how well Firefox did) but only in small, controlled packages such as these. If you let rip an OS designed to be free, then freedom will come, and you will not get one marketable product.

That is why, sadly, while the individual people who use Linux may like it, but Linux is simply too free to be for the mainstream.

To try to solve this, an ongoing project to create a standard easy-to-use small whole system, primarily for new small less-powerful devices, merging the gap between your computer and the cloud is encouraging developers to come and join. It is called Xenon, and is located at http://xenon.kevinghadyani.com . And it has absolutely nothing to do with Linux.

2 comments:

Harley said...

First of all, there is a standardized base for Linux, it's call the LSB. Second, (though not completely Linux related) you say that something as large as an OS can't have a standard "marketable" entity. Well look at Open/Net/FreeBSDs. Each is a marketable OS, and each of these OS's are quite standard. Of course, how is this really any different than saying Ubuntu is a complete and standard Linux OS, or OpenSUSE, or Fedora, or etc. While they're obviously not 100% compatible with each other, with some care, binaries (because that's what this boils down to right? Binary packages from some company that doesn't release the source. Because if the source was available it's a non-issue) can be distributed across all Linux distros. So I honestly don't see your point.

dandart said...

@Harley - the problem is that packaged files from one distro don't fit another. Plus one might use a different C library, and package different libraries by default, and would not be the same to use. This would slow down proprietary game/app development severely.