Thursday, June 15, 2006

Will Linux become a mature technology?

(From a response I posted on Slashdot...)

The real problem with Linux, IMNSHO, is that while it is certainly technically feasible to make it easy for most users install the OS itself as well as major apps and utilities, that is not the case in the real world. Wintel systems are bad enough as far as ease of setup and use go, but Linux is not nearly as mature a technology, although it is an improvement over Unix.

People want to do useful things with computers and networks. Most of them have no interest in being geeks. Look at how they buy and use cars. Many people who are serious consumers of automotive technology and often are also driving enthusiasts really don't give a flying fuck why their spiffy vehicles do what they do. They just want to get behind the wheel and go!

Admittedly, one need only watch traffic on busy roads to realize how woefully ignorant most people are of cars and driving. But think about this: there is the now classic analogy of what today's cars would be like if automotive tech had progressed as fast as computer tech (e.g., incredibly fast, cheap to own and operate, and reliable); yet I can get behind the wheel of almost any car in the U.S. (or England) and drive it reasonably well. I don't feel too lost, even when driving cars with everything on the wrong side (Brit style) or when I encounter an different transmission or gear pattern than the ones I know and prefer.

The thing is, one needs to know very little about how cars function internally in order to make effective use of them. That is not true of computers and especially not of any Linux systems I am aware of.

Linux already allows for far more powerful and functional systems than Windows or MacOS systems ever have, but the extra utility is not accessible and therefor not useful/meaningful to the typical consumer. Gets what? Typical consumers are the folks who buy things in mass quantities and thereby determine which products/technologies will be most successful.

The biggest Linux Annoyance for most geeks is that they have to waste so much time fiddling with and explaining the guts of it. If/when Linux becomes a mature technology, it will be as intuitive and easy to operate as the more popular cell phones and will "network" as seamlessly. One will Just Use It! (apologies to Nike)

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