February 15, 2003

Commentary: The Greatest Flaw In Linux

- By Patrick 'LinuxAddict' Pauwels -
The largest flaw with Linux is not in its ease of use or installation. There's no crisis with lack of software. The hardware support is solid. Actually, I feel Linux is very much ready for the masses. The greatest flaw with Linux is that nobody knows what it is.

"That's a constant internet connection, isn't it?" inquires one of my friends after telling him I upgraded to Linux. "So what are you running now, DOS?" asks another, after telling her I got rid of Windows. I remember when I didn't know what Linux was. If people only know about Windows and Microsoft, how do we expect them to try Linux? Surely Microsoft didn't get Windows on over 90% of the world's desktops by just sitting back and waiting for it to catch on.

Word of mouth is a good thing. Actually, it's a great thing. By telling friends and others about Linux, you increase the potential Linux user base. Maybe you even did a good thing if someone was frustrated with what they formerly ran, and now run and like Linux. If you tell people about Linux, keep it up, you're making a difference. But there is an even greater opportunity that lies out there. Linux is definitely ready for the desktop, and it's time we spread the word. To everyone.

Flipping through your favorite Linux magazines, you've probably seen ads for various Linux distributions. "You win 8.1!" declares an advertisement for SuSE Linux 8.1 in Linux Format magazine. Did I need to know that? No, I already knew about SuSE, and run 8.1 on my computer. Did you need to know that? If you read this site, you have probably already seen tons of news regarding SuSE 8.1, have read the articles and reviews, and decided on whether you are or aren't going to buy SuSE's latest release. But would someone reading a car or fashion magazine care to learn about SuSE, or any other Linux distribution for that matter? You never know. It is my opinion that advertising money that Linux distributions use would be better placed in pretty much any magazine but a Linux magazine, where we can target converts. And if key words like "cheap", "stable", and "easy to use" are mentioned, there is a good shot we could get people who were never interested or even heard of Linux before to at least go to a website to learn more.

The brave people will switch. These pioneers will increase our market share. More software will come, along with more drivers, reducing current existing hardware problems. You will be able to get Dells and Gateways with Linux. More people will switch. The more people we get to switch, the more mainstream and accommodating Linux will become. For example, take a look back a few years ago. How accommodating was Linux in 1995? Has the fact that it has became more mainstream gained it market share from more people, causing it to become more mainstream getting larger market share from the more mainstream, causing Linux to become more mainstream? How much more accommodating will Linux be in 2005 if even more mainstream buyers switch?

It's time we start spreading the word to everyone. One ad for Linux in Time would do more for switching people than 10 ads for Linux in Linux magazines. It's time we spread the good news -- that you do have a choice.


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