For my next book, “The Big Book of Windows Hacks,” I’ve just written a hack about how to run Ubuntu inside Windows Vista. Great fun, great hack, and it’s great to be able to run Linux on a Vista machine. But it’s showed me, once again, why Linux will never take over the desktop.
Don’t get me wrong — I like Ubuntu. It’s cleanly designed, a pleasure to use, and it’s certainly hard to argue with free. I was also impressed with the full suite of free software that comes with it, everything from a full-blown office suite to graphics tools, multimedia tools, and more.
And it’s also hard to argue with the vast amount of free software available for it as well.
But ultimately, it’s an operating system that only a devoted, hard-core computer aficionado could love. Here’s just one example. As soon as I installed it, I received a notification that updates were available. I clicked the notification, and was told that 129 updates were available. Here’s a small representative sample of what was available:
version of ‘host’ bundled with BIND 9.x
simple interprocess messaging system (utilities)
package maintenance system for Debian
Pixbuf-based theme for GTK+ 2.x
I could keep going on, but you get the idea. Microsoft messages and updates are difficult enough to decipher for the average PC user. But this? Forget it. People simply won’t have a clue.
Same things holds for installing new software. It’s simply too tough for the average person to find and install software for Ubuntu.
Does this mean there’s no place for Linux in computing? Of course not. For servers, it’s ideal. And for a very small subset of those who use computers, it’s perfect as a desktop operating system. For others, like me, it’s useful as an operating system to use in conjunction with Windows.
But for the vast majority of people, Linux simply won’t cut it.