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A Look at Ubuntu from the Other Side

Blessed Are the Geeks

  • January 12, 2011
  • By Emery Fletcher
From the user's side, that is. From the side of a whole world full of people who will eventually determine whether Linux has a future as a viable home/office alternative to Windows. If they don't, it may be destined never to rise above the magical 1% of do-it-yourselfers adventurous and persistent enough to study it, work at it, and ultimately learn to use it. Blessed are they who labor at Linux, for they shall be called geeks.

And that's the problem. Linux was created by geeks, grown and nurtured by geeks, and unless something is done fairly soon to change the presentation and the image, it will remain a system for geeks. The only one doing very much about that at this moment is Mark Shuttleworth, who has invested his fortune, his time, and his vision to create SOMETHING that can present a real challenge to the Windows hegemony.

So far, Linux has done spectacularly well, the more remarkably because it has always been presented as an unadvertised, strictly low-key offering to users. The commercial distros ��� RedHat, SUSE, Novell ��� have achieved a degree of success in the enterprise that has Steve Ballmer grinding his teeth; on personal devices, the Android that runs cell phones and tablets has become a major thorn in Steve Jobs's side; and in supercomputers, Linux has no equal. Only one area is left out: the rest of the world.

That is composed of desktops, or whatever one wants to call computers that are provided with a lot of memory and a lot of storage and which, in a pinch, can be usefully employed independent of any connection to the web. Some people -- usually those selling mobile gadgets or Cloud services -- will tell you the desktop is dead. Tell that to any of my neighbors within a radius of perhaps 20 miles, for whom there is no WiFi and exactly one rather noisy DSL line. Tell that to a small business with three or four on the payroll and a need for a Point of Sale system that isn't a POS itself. No, the desktop is probably going to wind up like the kitchen range: not a high-tech miracle like the microwave, but unequaled at doing what it was made for.

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