Here’s a (probably pretty spot-on) piece on why the average computer user has no interest in Linux (assuming the average computer user even knows what Linux is). In summary:
- People don’t mind Windows as much as Linux users think they do.
- There are too many types of Linux to choose from.
- Hardware and software compatibility is a big deal to most people.
- The command line is not a superior alternative to graphic user interfaces for most people.
- And finally, to quote directly: “Linux is still too geeky.”
I think that last item pretty much sums up the previous four, though. Some die-hard Linux users seem totally baffled that the average computer user would choose the OS equivalent of a clunky station wagon over a free, rocket-powered tank (to borrow Neal Stephenson’s metaphor). The truth is, though, that you need to be interested enough in computersâ€”no, not just interested, but dedicated to a certain kind of computing experienceâ€”to choose Linux over one of the “default” alternatives. Most people don’t want to know how their computers workâ€”they just want them to work. Most people don’t want to take the time to learn and customize.
Once you get used to a new OS, using it doesn’t really have to be a hobby. Learning to use a new thing that doesn’t hide the complicated parts so much, without phone tech support, would essentially require taking on a new hobby for the average computer user.
I will say this, though: when the Open Source community starts attracting (and deferring to) talented designers in matters of user interface, I may be willing to take all that back.