Throughout the history of software there has always been people who prefer customization over simplicity. In the more modern era of computer software the most evident example of this phenomenon is Linux distributions. A distribution of software cobbled together into one massive bundle that seems to be held together by an elastic band. Normally these operating systems are outdated and are almost always neglected by mainstream software developers. For example, Adobe Flash on Linux seems to only work if you pray to the Adobe gods before loading any flash content.

I’ll admit over the years this cobbled bundle has become more refined and in rare cases Linux distributions like Ubuntu can actually be useful. However, many issues still exist that make it impossible for a mainstream user to ever become familiar with the complexities inherit in all open source applications. This is caused simply by the unorganized method in which open source software is created. Imagine writing a letter, then giving that letter to your neighbor and allowing him or her to edit the letter along with adding their own letter to the same paper. The person who eventually reads this letter might end up being somewhat confused. Now imagine allowing thousands of people to edit the letter and add their own. By the time someone finally reads the finish product it would be total chaos.

Above is the reason Linux will never become mainstream. It’s just not seamless. In fact, its chaotic and unorganized. Which ends up making the software very clunky and hard to manage. Eventually leading to the point when even the power users might prefer something more refined and easy to use. This could be either Mac, Windows or even a more refined Linux distribution.

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So what needs to be done? I believe that for Linux to ever compete with operating systems like Windows or OS X a strong non-profit committee needs to be solely responsible for making Linux software user-friendly and seamless. The group would make design decisions and ask the community along with full-time volunteers to develop them. Software design elements tied to the user interface could be voted upon by the users and the winning vote would be the project that received the most attention. Overall allowing the users to decided what comes and goes in the Linux environment.

Honestly, I highly doubt that we will see this type of collaboration from a community that has always seemed to pride themselves on being above the average computer user.  Which is unfortunate, but makes for a safe assumption that the mainstream adoption of Linux will never come.

  • Did you honestly used a Linux distribution at least for a few days? I don’t think so…
    Adobe Flash is working great om my pc running linux and I never had problems working with opensource software. This acticle is just nonsense

  • Aside from the Adobe Flash issue which I haven’t had a problem with at all, the rest I agree with. If you want to do more than the basics, you need to dig out the Terminal (in my case at least)

    Interesting read!

  • I think the point Keaton was trying to make was that there’s no real set of standards for software development for Linux similar to that of OS X. The standards definitely improve consistentcy and overall user experience.

  • Keaton, i have known you for a long time and really never expected you to post this. you are right about it just being a lot of peaces of software put together but really adobe has fixed many of the problems with flash. Its way more stable than any windows install i have ever used and supports most any peace of hardware out of the box. As of osx, i have had a past experence with it with the mac you saw at my shop. to me OSX is worthless. The only way linux will become mainstream is if a major company picks them up and puts it on the computers as a standard. But really i hope that will never happen. I love the fact its for people like me that love to mess around with the OS and not have to worry about getting viruses. Also before you say it will never become mainstream. Look at it another way. What is the most common server out there. Linux. i have never seen a OSX server and as of windows servers they are always too slow and always set up unsecure. All i am trying to say is linux is not just held togeather by a “elastic band” it is a great peace of software that will walk all over windows and osx any day for the power users.

  • You are way off base about code collabaoration in Open Source projects.  Yes, the code is open to anyone for review.  Yes, anyone can submit code for inclusion in an open source project.  However, that code is not committed to the source tree until an extensive review has been coducted by the project team.

    There are literally a few different hundred Linux distrubutions, most a specility builds or hobbists builds.  The few that are maintained with commercial goals, RedHat, Suse, Ubuntu are targeted at a specific market.  The only thing that is holding back any of the distros from capturing massive market share in the desktop market, is marketing.  Linux captured the server, and embedded OS market years ago.  Windows is playing catch up in those markets.

  • Seriously??  Code collaboration is definitely not the problem.  Look at Firefox or Android (I’d include desktop Linux, but using your own example against you is counter-intuitive).  These are all OSS and are great!

  • What a bs article. To use your analogy. Imagine writing a letter. Then giving a bit of that letter to your neighbour and letting them try and finish it. then do that a few hundread times. The linux kernal is refinded and organised BECAUSE millions of people look at it. the type of people who want a organised amazing operating system. No one person on earth knows the mac or windows kernal. If you want to write software for them You get the bare minium of ther operating source code and have to work with that. The best example of this design failure is the microsoft suicidal repository system. The reason linux isnt mainstream in western society is because people are so uneducated about computers. Much like the writer of this article.

  • I disagree your point on letting neighbour edit your letter. In this case you are giving complete ownership of that letter, but in case of GNU License or even LGPL you are saying I created it. If you want to use my version it is here (It is 0.3) and if you want to use the latest this changes have been made by these users, who still retain my identity, so the analogy of letter in this case is not appropriate. Other than that I agree with software priority for Linux. To add to your point I can say if gaming industry see Linux as a viable options then a large community of user will adapt Linux. Gaming is a large market. Next comes programming PHP and java is cross-platform but .NET applications are not portable other than C# to a minimum extent, so native applications on Linux has to dependent on C++ (Qt) and C for gui and they don’t have better programming tool than Visual Studio. Before you send a product, send a good programming environment, that will make your platform popular. It is not as hard to make programs in Linux, but everybody will be scared at the first place to start. E.g windows mimics of making program within minutes (i.e a barebone GUI), but programming can be more difficult in System.Windows than in GTK if you go on to make something useful. So programming environment should be very intutive, then if two will make good program millions can use it.


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