Why Hasn’t the Average User Switched to Linux?

With Windows 7 rapidly approaching, there has been a lot of comparisons to other operating systems, especially Linux.  There is even an Australian video of average people commenting on what they think is Windows 7 when in reality it’s the KDE 4 Linux environment.  While it doesn’t really prove that much, it does show that people would seem to look favorably upon Linux if they had the chance to use it.  So why hasn’t there been a mass exodus away from the buggy, expensive, insecure, bloat-laden world of Windows to the blissful world of Linux?

In my opinion, don’t blame Microsoft, blame everyone else.

  1. Hardware manufacturers: While availability of drivers has come a long way, until all hardware is supported by Linux out of the box then people will not want to adopt Linux.  I have tried several Linux distributions (Mandriva, Ubuntu, Debian) and have always had trouble getting my Canon printer and Audigy sound card to work reliably.  When hardware vendors are able to make their products as easy to set up under Linux as under Windows, people will switch.  By the way – I have no idea why Linux proponents say that drivers aren’t an issue.  They are.  Fix it.
  2. Software manufacturers: There are many “Windows equivalent” programs freely available to Linux users as well as to Windows users: OpenOffice for MS Office, GIMP for Photoshop, Firefox for Internet Explorer.  However, for many – myself included – the inability to run a given program is a real hurdle.  For example I use Quicken 2009 to pay all my bills and do all my banking and I also use Pinnacle Studio 12 for video editing.  These are two areas where I don’t want an equivalent, even if there was a good one – I want these programs.  As of this writing, neither was supported or worked well enough to bother with in Linux using either Wine or CrossOver.  Dual boot you say?  Tried that and rebooting just to do my finances is ridiculous.  VMware you say?  Maybe, just maybe.  But then, isn’t that defeating the purpose of having Linux, just so I can run Windows in the background?
  3. The Linux Community: Wha!?!  Face it – Joe Public probably has never heard of Linux, and if they have their friends haven’t so they aren’t going to try it.  If Linux distributors could make a product that was as recognizable as iPods and Viagra, they would be more likely to investigate and try it.  And if they did try it and like it, they would probably start hounding software and hardware developers to make their products Linux compatible, thus reducing or eliminating problems 1 & 2.

All that said, I am still very tempted by Linux.  The Latest Kubuntu looks fantastic and it seems to have at least solved my printer issue, but the sound remains sketchy (I can run sound through my motherboard in Kubuntu though that makes the Audigy card useless).  But until it “just works“, I doubt if I’ll ever really dump Microsoft completely.

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Posted on August 23, 2009, in Tech News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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