This is a response to an article I found out about here (original article by TechRadar here), which states the following:
In a shocking announcement, Tech Radar declares Linux non-sexy with appeal only to nerds, geeks and basement dwellers. In an article addressing the challenges faces by Linux in it’s ongoing quest to unseat either Windows or Mac OS as a mainstream operating system, Tech Radar concludes that lack of sex appeal is it’s biggest obstacle.
Citing the iPad as an example of what the open source community is lacking, Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation says that for Linux to jump ahead in popularity, a little magic and sex appeal will go a long way.
Other factors cited include the massive cost for businesses to switch operating systems and the fact that no one company or organization can be held 100% accountable and responsible for the quality and capability of Linux systems.
First, I take issue with your assertion that Linux is attempting to “unseat” Microsoft or Apple in the OS market. Certain for-profit companies may have this goal (Google, etc.), but open source in general is not by definition about unseating anything. It is about open standards, community driven software development, and in general providing quality code to the world at large. This, while allowing profit to be a by-product of that effort.
I mentioned Google. If you’re looking for a “sexy” Linux, have a look at any recent phone with Android at it’s core. Google’s recent acquisition of Bumptop is a good indication that they plan to make a “sexy” iPad-like device in the near future.
I do agree that most people just want their OS to “work” and don’t care about tinkering with it. Maybe your argument is that Linux isn’t “sexy” out of the box. While Windows 7 does look good immediately after first install, good luck adding anything to it without paying more and more as you go along.
Gnome, in my opinion, has never been all that pleasing to the eye (although Ubuntu 10.04 looks good). Pick up any recent distribution of KDE (4.0+) and you will see a world of difference and customizability.
But you know what the even more beautiful part of any Linux distribution is? If you don’t like KDE, or it takes up too much resources, simply install a different desktop environment, and boom, you’ve got a totally different desktop experience.
In organizations that need accountability (such as the defense contractor my employer contracts to), they can have easily by choosing one of the major players in Linux distributions. We install Red Hat Linux on both servers and 150+ workstations, and have no problem passing all Federal inspections and receiving support from Red Hat. So, while your argument that no _one_ organization is responsible for Linux is factually correct, it’s soft because once an organization does choose a major Linux distribution for their environment the can have all the support they want (see Oracle, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, etc).
In my opinion (and that of many expert software engineers), is that the bazaar* model in which many people throughout the world contribute and develop an open source system, is much more beneficial to the community and the world at large than having one monolithic organization fix issues as it is profitable to them. In case the link doesn’t come through, see RSAnimate on Youtube, specifically the video called “Drive”. Skip to 7:11 for the information relevant to my point.
* – Also see The Cathedral and the Bazaar, 1-56592-724-9.