Slashdot has posted a link to this blog post discussing why Linux has not taken over the operating system environment. It is free after all, so why aren’t there more people using it? The blogger poses the fact that people do not like things that are free, and that is the reason why Linux is a distant third in the OS marketplace.
I have to disagree strongly to that hypothesis. People love free things. While most people still use Internet Explorer to browse the web, Firefox now commands a whooping 37.2% of the total market (and 46.75% of TechnoLlama readers), and it is more popular than either IE 6 or 7 taken individually. Why is that? Because it is a superior product, it has a large range of plug-ins and extensions, and it is in average more secure than IE. For those who think that IE is also free, remember that it is the pre-installed browser in Windows.
There is one important reason why Linux has not taken over the OS market: it is not easy to use (no, not even Ubuntu). Your average Linux distribution requires a lot of hard work in order to get it working properly. In my personal experience, Open SuSE 10.1 was the first distro where all of my hardware worked after the first installation (yes, including wifi). However, SuSE 10.2 had several problems, including the very inconvenient fact that either wifi or power saving features worked at the same time, leaving me with the dilemma of running out of power quickly if I wanted to connect to the Internet.
Until these problems are solved, people will continue using Windows, or migrating to OS X. Most of us know that Vista is a piece of DRM-laden junk, but even that is preferable in the minds of many consumers to having to give up an entire weekend browsing forums in order to get their laptop to work with Linux. This is why I gave up and bought a Mac. I’m sure I’m not alone in that respect.