Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet has written another article about the problems with the Linux community which follows up on his original article from a couple of days ago. In this new article, he comments on my earlier post.
Before I get into more detail, I just want to emphasize that it is not my intention to be aggressive and vocal and be fanatical about defending Linux at all costs. I am just expressing my opinion, just like Adrian did.
I agree with Mr. Hughes about the Mac affect. Apple has definitely come a long way in providing a viable, easy-to-use Unix-based alternative to Windows that addresses most of the problems, perceived or real, that Windows has. I got myself a Mac when I got bored with Windows and I needed something that just works. When I got a Mac two years ago, I needed a good platform to manage music, videos and pictures. I also needed a platform that wouldn’t choke on the multimedia content on websites. At that time, Linux could not serve very well as an entertainment platform — definitely not for an average user. Macs are cool and sexy, but I think Linux has a potential of being cool and sexy too. However, to get there, there needs to be a combination of hardware and software. Windows has never been cool because it runs on some very boring hardware — there is no immediate brand value. Linux has the same problem.
Mr. Hughes also talks about the problem with free tech support. This is an issue but this is not something that the Linux community “doesn’t get.” (please excuse the double negative!). The only way that free tech support will be accessible is when Linux has a sizable market share. Until then, the best we can do is provide a good online community. This brings us to the assertion that Mr. Hughes makes about the hostility of the community. Mr. Hughes compares the entire Linux community with the online forums on the Apple site. This is not a fair comparison — the Apple forums are moderated by Apple. In fact, Apple has been known to remove anti-Apple opinion from their forums. There are a lot of other fanatical communities (an example). Also, there are plenty of friendly and productive Linux communities. I regularly visit the Ubuntu forums where I have never had a problem getting help. Having said that, I totally agree with Mr. Hughes when he says that we’re talking about an OS, we need to relax a little!
I mentioned Gnome and KDE in my previous post as examples of easy-to-use non-geeky graphical environments. Mr Hughes seems to have taken this out of context:
OK, and talking about Gnome and KDE environments isn’t too geeky? Care to simplify that for the average user?
I was not talking to the average user in my previous post and I’m not talking to the average user in this post either. I’m talking to people who care about the adoption of Linux, who are geeks by definition — non-geeks don’t even know what an OS is. The average user doesn’t have to be explained what Gnome or KDE is. They don’t have to choose between the two. They are dropped into a graphical environment that doesn’t require a CS degree to operate. Linux is a different platform, there are bound to things that are unfamiliar to Windows users and new things that switchers will have to learn. However, that does not make Linux geeky, just different. Linux has the burden of unfamiliarity to overcome. The only reason people will switch to Linux is if they are dissatisfied with their current solution or if Linux offers them more value. I believe Linux has come a long way from being “too geeky” — right now it is on the path of being cool and useful. Let’s see where it goes.