A post in the Linux Today Blog wondered whether the Linux desktop has arrived. While I do agree with most of what the writer says, I definitely would like people to stop beating the dead horse. Linux is, in fact, ready:
No personal preferences, but hard facts
We should stop framing Linux vs. Windows as a matter of preference. Truth is not subjective. Either we are better or we are not. What may be up for debate is the meaning of the word "better". But, even if we were to discuss the different shades and facets of "better", it's pretty clear Linux fully masters most of them.
It's also time to stop talking in similes and analogies. The cure? Shove the product in people's faces, and let them decide whether it's good for them, or not. Chances are, people can very well form their own analogies, and most of the time they'll be favorable to us Linux promoters.
The cohesiveness of modern desktop Linux offerings
No, Linux is definitely no longer a "LEGO" building set, neither in the sense of being basic, nor in the sense of being "extremely buildable". Modern Linux offerings for the desktop provide a cohesive and predictable experience. Maybe the writer has been using Linux for as long as I've been (therefore remembering the good ole days where the console,
dpkg were mandatory).
Linux being better on the desktop no longer "depends on your opinion", but on scenarios
It just doesn't come to a matter of preference. Hard fact is, Linux wins, in practical terms, hands down on several scenarios. I'll discuss the winning one, and then the problematic one.
The business / corporate desktop
Take the corporate desktop, Linux has been there for quite a while, and it's better than Windows in manageability and cost. I'm not just voicing personal opinion but one of the conclusions of my thesis work. We, as a matter of fact, tackled the issue because we assert it's crucial for developing nations' futures to start adopting Linux desktops en masse.
The home desktop
Maybe at home it's a little bit harder due to the more stringent requirements of consumer multimedia, but it's still perfectly doable. My best friends are using Ubuntu and Windows on a dual boot fashion, and one of them is always bitchin' about OpenOffice not reading his forwarded PowerPoint attachments, and having problems with Adobe Flash... but, every time I drop by, lo and behold, Ubuntu has been running instead of Windows. The folks at Canonical are definitely doing something well.
Linux is there. Whether the market refuses to see it, or third-party pressure continues to elicit major delusions against Linux, is irrelevant to the discussion at hand. While we may not win market majority for a long time, in the end we've proven our superiority. We no longer have any reason to believe that our product won't withstand real-life tests with real-life regular users, because it works.
We should no longer squander any more resources discussing this matter. What we should be thinking about now is:
- beating proprietary forces with the power of marketing; this is hard with fewer economic resources, but it's doable; just look at the Mozilla guys; everyone should start using their blogs and other soapboxes to outline a master strategy -- we may not arrive at a consensus, but at least there'll be millions of small forces pushing in a (more or less) single direction, with palpable sum effects; both hard facts and emotion pitches can be successfully used and equally valid in this context
- pitching Linux hard on big government and big business; granted, a great general / strategist is needed -- did I forget to say I'm now available to work abroad? ;-)
- lobbying like mad to get our much-needed global political reform, therefore reducing intellectual monopolies and increasing support for free culture movements such as free software
- publically denouncing and eliminating collusive agreements that deny Linux and free software the entry in the market that people so sorely need
Just one final thought for you, dear Linux advocate and reader: you are no longer the outsider in the boardroom, timid voice, pitching "Lunix". Today you're in a position of power, thanks to the hard and noble work executed selflessly by millions of individuals. It's time to start confronting your adversaries from that position.