Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Did Linux miss the boat? or did it take the train instead?



    This post is all about Linux. This post is not about Mac vs. PC vs. Linux, or any combination therein. No, this is just about Linux and where I feel it is doing great, still failing, and where I think its headed. At least, where I think it should be headed.

    The reason for the Ubuntu Logo at the top is simple, its the most recognizable Linux for Non-Linux users. Its the easiest to setup, and use for Non-Linux people. This post is not about the pro's and con's of the unity desktop, nor any particular Linux distro. No. This post is about Linux, as a whole.

    Where Linux really gets to flex its muscle is in enterprise level services. More than half of the pages viewed on the internet today are served by some form of Linux or another. It's low cost, super stable, and endlessly configurable. There is no question that Linux makes a great server platform at any budget. I even use a Linux server at my home and have written some how-to's on this blog. The truth is, for server functions, I really love Linux.

    Where Linux shines (albiet while in costume) is in the mobile market. The Android OS has done more to push Linux into the hands of everyday consumers than all of the work preceding it combined. Most people are unaware that Linux and Android are in point of fact, the exact same OS. From smart phones to tablets to netbooks, Linux has been there just doing its job as a good looking, stable operating system that many have come to know and love; even if they don't know (or care) about Linux.

    But as always, their is a dark side ...

    The dreaded ... Desktop OS ... (erie music here) ...

    I have yet to see a Linux Distribution that truly redefines the Desktop. I am not just talking about different just for the sake of being different. I am talking about something truly great, that "ah ha" moment you get and it makes you realize you have been doing it wrong along, and this is the way it should have been done from the beginning. Yes, the Unity Desktop is different, but still lacks in ... that X-Factor. That crap your pants moment you get when you realize that something game changing has just assaulted your senses and you want more.

    I just finished reviewing a "NEW AND EXCITING" Linux Distribution that is "designed from the ground up to be the easiest transition OS for windows users". There "new look manager" is a bad knockoff of Windows XP, and they even call this crap "Windows XP" in the list of UI customizations. Its not even close. Once again, what was promised was not delivered. Its just another Linux Distro that may or may not catch on.

    I have yet to see any, and I mean any Linux Desktop environment that can come within a country mile of the finish and polish of Windows Vista. That mile gets even longer when you look at Windows 7, 8 or even any version of osX from Leopard forward; you will see what I mean. The graphics (even on a 64 bit OS) look 16 bit at best. The fonts tend to be wrong, or the wrong size and lack any sort of shading or smoothing. Even the base graphics for Unity on Ubuntu where created on a Mac.

    Lets face it, the Linux Desktop is DOA, or is it?

    Both Motorola and Ubuntu have successfully joined Android and a "desktop" Linux OS that runs on the same device, and boots along side of (not dual boot) a portable device. What this means is, you drop the device (smart phone, tablet, whatever) into a cradle, and you get a real desktop OS that uses a real screen, mouse and keyboard. It works just like any other Desktop Computer, except you have access to all of your files, and even broadband cellular internet. Everything you need in one device, sort of.

    For this to work, someone must fix the Linux Desktop OS "user experience". Why would a consumer pay good money for a desktop that looks as bad as Linux. Oh sure, you can throw a hi-res wall paper on just about anything. All that really does, at the end of the day when a consumer is deciding where to spend their money, is put a blanket over a turd.

    Don't even start with "Linux is free and open source" argument. Lets face it, if Linux was free phones would be a lot cheaper. Open source? Lets talk about Samsung's locked boot loaders? No my friends. Linux, the free version that we all know and love, will never be a solid replacement for Windows or Mac because its not pretty enough for consumers. The path envisioned by Motorola and Ubuntu have the best chance of success, but only if they make the desktop OS just as beautiful as the mobile version.

    Until next time ...