Chris J Powell

Linux vs the World – A Little Mythbusting

The founder of Ubuntu; Mark Suttleworth recently made a bold statement that my beloved Linux OS will have 200 million users by 2015.  With a current user base globally of approximately 12 to 20 million this 10X growth is both considerable and a true uphill battle with the use of desktops and laptops on the decline with Tablets and Smart Phones being increasingly used to conduct our daily computing tasks.

I find this to be quite interesting as Ubuntu has been the most popular flavor of Linux on the “desktop” for several years but has failed to achieve a tipping point in user acceptance.  We saw Dell flirt with the pre-install of Ubuntu on a few models of their business Desktops and Laptops and even HP and Lenovo have joined the mix but what comes next to achieve this goal?

There are some myths that still confound users and I found an interesting article on fossmaniac on HubPages
I took the liberty of rewriting the commentary on his/her 7 Myths:

Myth 1: Linux is just for geeks

One of Linux’s greatest advantages is that there is a flavor for anyone, just go to www.distrowatch.com and you will see the evolution of the penguin.  Much like Baskin and Robbins you are free to try any of the distributions before you commit to any kind of “purchase”.  For many of these distributions, the installation process is actually easier than it is for Windows (no command line, fdisk etc)

Myth 2 : Linux can’t handle Excel, Word, Powerpoint

I have successfully ran Microsoft Office on my Linux Box using WINE for years – up to and including Office 2007 but you really don’t need to as nearly every type of Linux includes a office productivity suite built upon the very successful Openoffice.org (now being replaced with Libreoffice).  For 99.9% of Productivity needs, this will work just fine!

Myth 3 : Linux is free, so it sucks.

This is where I get my hackles up when people say that if its FREE it can’t be good and is not a product like Windows or Macs.  The reason that GNU Linux is free is because it takes the distributed mind share of millions of developers and users around the world and combines that into FOSS and my beloved Penguin.  Are there advantages to locking a dev team in a basement in Redmond, WA or Cupertino, CA and having them build Windows 8 or OSXI absolutely but I have yet to see either of those groups be able to build a solid release cycle comparable to Ubuntu or Linux in general!

Myth 4 : Desktops are dead, so is Linux

While there is a ring of truth to this, I have been a lover of all things mobility for some time and even though I don’t come down to my Desktop as often as I used to, I still find the option to tinker, build and focus on a Desktop System a huge advantage over a Laptop or Tablet.  For creation, the desktop still is king…for consumption I will agree Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones rule the roost.  Can a Tablet replace the desktop…not yet but they are getting there and let’s not forget that the most wildly popular SmartPhone OS out there is Android which is built on the Linux Kernel…evolution not revolution!

Myth 5 : But Linux can’t handle my favorite software XYZ which is windows-only.

Again I turn to WINE or as I had to do to activate my iPad run a Virtual Machine to install iTunes.  There is a great listing of the FOSS alternative to your favorite closed source program…check them out at http://www.osalt.com/.  Now is this a perfect alternative to running your favorite program…no but there are options.

Myth 6 : Linux can’t do gaming

Gaming is the kicker for me as well.  While there are options like WINE again or Transgaming’s Cedega the biggest hurdle is with the Graphics Engines by ATI, nVidia and Intel not being opened up and allow for creation of an alternative to the Windows dominance on desktop gaming.  Here’s a list of the much-awaited games for Linux in 2011.

Myth 7 : Linux lacks support.

For years I have supported people and their Windows computers and I can honestly say that the money grab that is support is vastly over rated. As long as there is a connection to the internet the answer is available.  There are incredibly active Forums that will spit out the answer to just about any question and I have never had to wait more than a day for an answer that worked.  You are note alone but just as Windows and Mac offer you extended support contracts every major Linux OS does the same.  Check out the Canonical Store if you want to know more about either the Home Support or Ubuntu Advantage.

In short can Linux do what your current OS does 1 for 1…no and I for one would not want there to be no barriers for making the switch.  I am a Geek, one that proudly says that if I can do it for FREE then I will do so.  If I can do 95% of what I want to do without the interference of Microsoft, or any other proprietary software company…then I for one will do it for free.

Chris J Powell

1 thought on “Linux vs the World – A Little Mythbusting

  1. Great post Chris! I must say that slowly but surely I am leaning more and more towards Linux as the option of choice. Of course, my lack of geekiness limits my ability to fully utilize the world of Linux… but I try 🙂

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