First off I must emphasize that I am a Linux fan but, unfortunately, I do not believe it will ever be ready for prime time. The biggest problem, as I see it, is the lack of serious professional software. Sure, Linux is just fine if all the user wants to do is exchange email, surf the web, and normal day-to-day operations. Where it falls down is when special interest or professional software is required.
Take my case, for example, where all I really need is a professional screenshot capture tool with a decent editor built in for my writing. Some years back I downloaded the latest version of Ubuntu and was quite impressed, that is until I started to look for a decent screenshot capture program. At that time, “Shutter” was at the top of everyone’s list. I downloaded and installed Shutter and was immediately dismayed at just how primitive it was. I didn’t expect it to come close to professional screenshot capture tools — such as Snagit or Ashampoo Snap — but it was way under par even when compared to the freeware alternatives available for Windows.
Too Many Distros
I believe the problem starts right at the very beginning, as it would. Anyone with zero Linux experience looking to migrate from Windows must be completely confused at the sheer number of choices — over 600 distros with around 500 in active development. Then we have Debian-based, Knoppix-based, Ubuntu-based, Fedora-based, openSUSE-based, Arch-based, Gentoo-based, and on and on. Any wonder newcomers are totally at a loss? Even within the distros themselves, there are further choices to confuse the newbie. Check out these two descriptions sourced from MajorGeeks:
- Archman Linux is an Arch-based Linux distro. There are Xfce, KDE Plasma, Mate, Deepin, Gnome, Lxde, and Lxqt versions
- Nitrux is a Linux desktop distribution directly based on Ubuntu geared towards beginners. It uses the Calamares installer and includes NX Desktop and NX Firewall on top of the KDE Plasma 5 desktop environment and MauiKit Applications
Say what? I am somewhat familiar with Linux and that second one is mostly Greek to me; imagine what sort of effect descriptions such as these have on newbies. It’s true that Linux developers have tried hard in recent times to emulate the Windows environment, and with some success. However, the sheer quantity and diversion of distros is a huge put-off for any newbie looking to migrate. Windows users are moving from a choice of one to having to choose from over 600. And even when they manage to choose from a shortlist of recommended distros, the choices don’t stop there. Take the popular Mint distro for example. Go to the Mint download page and you’re immediately confronted with even more choices, between Cinnamon, MATE, and Xfce.
I guess it could be argued that variety is a good thing but, in this case, I believe it is just too much, overkill if you will. Take someone into a cake shop with over 600 delicacies to choose from and you’d end up with one confused customer having a very difficult time trying to decide. Take that same someone into a cake shop with just three delicacies to choose from and I guarantee they’d make their choice in no time flat.
Insufficient Market Share
It’s a catch 22 situation that Linux does not command enough of a market share to warrant hardware manufacturers and software developers investing in the platform. When these developers invest in Windows they are developing a one-shoe-fits-all program that they know will be available to billions of users. On the other hand, developing for Linux, with its measly market penetration shared among over 600 distros with differing baselines, why would they bother? Well, they wouldn’t and most don’t, because it’s simply not financially viable.
In order for Linux to become mainstream, the first thing developers need to do is get their heads together and produce one almighty distro, the best from the best, with maybe 2- 3 desktop environments to choose from. Because, until such time as a single Linux distro commands a decent share of the desktop market, things are never going to change. Linux will never reach the standard to satisfy gamers, professionals, and those users with special interests/needs until such time as the major hardware manufacturers and software developers get on board, simple as that.
As I said at the beginning, I am a Linux fan, I really am. However, while I fully appreciate the original concept behind Linux, without a complete change of direction it is surely destined to continue floundering in the mire.
Now, I know some Linux users are probably going to take me to task over the content of this article. Go for it, I can take it, hit me in the comments. 🙂