Windows gives you the widest software and hardware support with a weakness in security. Mac OS X gives you a secure user experience with nearly all the features of a Windows PC and superior capabilities in the Apple sandbox with the weakness of cost. Linux becomes the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none for the desktop giving you security and stability without the widespread compatibility of Windows or the user experience of a Mac. A decade ago, people would have said that Linux was ill-suited for “real” server work. Are naysayers of desktop Linux being as naïve? I don’t think so.
What About Netbooks?
The beauty of the netbook is that its purpose is not to serve as a true notebook or desktop replacement. HP has done the best job of positioning its Linux-based netbooks as offering a “Mobile Internet Experience.” Here’s an excerpt from its Webpage:
|Row 0 - Cell 0||HP Mini 1000||HP Mini 1000 with MIE||Typical Notebooks|
|Size||10” x 5” (fits in a purse)||10” x 5” (fits in a purse)||12” x 8” (fits in a backpack)|
|Ideal Uses||Checking e-mailSurfing the WebViewing photosWatching videosListening to musicPlaying casual gamesUsing Windows-compatible applications||Checking e-mailSurfing the WebViewing photosWatching videosListening to musicPlaying casual games||Replacing your desktop PCRunning office productivity softwareEditing photos and videosPlaying mainstream games|
The key here is that HP isn’t positioning its netbook as a desktop alternative or even drawing attention to how the netbook is compatible with Linux applications. By promising only basic Internet features, anything else is just a bonus.
The Only Hope for Linux
The global economic crisis won’t drive users toward a “free” operating system. As I mentioned earlier, most people will choose to keep their existing computer. As money gets tighter, most people will look to eliminate uncertainty. With a PC, it’s a known entity. With a Mac, you have the Genius Bar for technical support. There is no local Linux guru. The only way Linux can reach the mainstream desktop is if that uncertainty is removed. For Linux to catch on as a desktop OS, it would take a store like Best Buy to make a commitment to push Linux at the mainstream.
It starts with the development of a new Linux distribution focused on the tools that HP has already identified as being important to most home users: office productivity and editing photos. Imagine a stripped-down distribution with Open Office, Evolution, Firefox, F-Spot, Gimp, Brasero, Banshee, xgl/Compiz, and essentially nothing else. Finally, lock everything down to ensure adequate security.
By pre-installing a very specific subset of Linux applications on a PC, users won’t be daunted by auto-updates reporting the installation of dozens of packages. More importantly, it allows Best Buy store associates to learn and demonstrate a very specific set of applications after a single day of training. Have a dedicated Geek Squad Linux person at every store. This person doesn’t need to be an expert–he or she just needs to be knowledgeable enough to help consumers with their Linux machine and how to configure VNC. Best Buy can then have a centralized team of expert technicians who can access/troubleshoot machines remotely.
Now offer this package as a “Blue Label” PC. They already have Blue Label notebooks. With all of the cost savings of going to Linux versus Windows, pocket the cash. Best Buy can sell these systems at the same prices as their Windows counterparts. That’s because these systems will include a free year of Geek Squad system support.
It’s a simple plan:
- Focused Linux distribution with a minimal install to improve speed and minimize the support needed
- In-store demonstration and support
- Remote Desktop Tech Support
- Bundled year of the service plan
The goal for Best Buy would be to break even in the first year, and then profit as home users renew their service plan.
Anonymous prediction for 2009 - 0.3%
So more stable? perhaps, but certainly not in my home.
It is getting better every version that launches, but still needs a lot of love. Wine use should be simple and stealthy. That is, put a x86 windows cd, and wine detects and pulls out a auto run. You get the idea.
when that happens Linux will check mate Win/OSX. Compiz/Fusion is already prettier than OSX (and with great promises) and the system is much safer. And faster.
Lets wait and see.
Mac is comparing itself to windows OS or rather they should be. The Apple community is content believing that PC(Personal Computer) means Windows. They simply don't know the difference. Note to mac users: Macs are PCs also. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_computer
Also, listen to the music in the background. It's lullaby nature appeals to the mentality of Mac users as does the original color pallet 'box of crayons' in the system settings. They didn't design it that way by accident.
That's why Mac users love to boast about the commercials and their computers. Basic - ignorance is bliss.
It's not your fault though. It's not like personal computers have been widely available since the late 1970's but you haven't bothered to take one class on them right? You haven't?! That's a pity and thank you.
It's people like you who keep the entire PC(yes you too) technical community employed.
Dunno about all below the wine, as I don't use linux for anything other than firewalls. But I don't think wine will ever get to a level that allows linux to replace windows. Mac OS has a chance - but only if they somehow can make game developers compile mainstream games for the mac.
Though the article in general is very well written, I still find it fails on one simple aspect. Gaming. Every single pc I've built in the past 5 years was expected to play pretty much any non-top-tier game. Ie. not crysis, but if hugo or pixeline, or any other childrens game, was shipped with some magazine or put on discount, the people I built the computers for, expect that the software will work. That can't be realized on a mac unless it runs windows - at which point there's no reason to buy the more expensive mac.
If we imagine a future version of flash, silverlight, java or any other internet based system could address the hardware in a pc via a standard interface - like directx or opengl etc but on the actaul hardware, instead of on the gui. And without the programmer needing expert knowledge of the limitations of the features, then virtualization won't even be needed. Stuff would just run directly on hardware. A bit like a seamless window on a citrix system, but with the hardware being used locally, and the drivers being a bunch of software embedded in the hardware burried beneath the gui.
But that probably won't happen for another 10 years, so windows is safe, even with a complete idiot at the wheel.