Conclusion: Linux on the Desktop Isn’t Just for Geeks Anymore!
I have run Linux on desktops, servers, and laptops… but I am a geek (and a proud one, as well!) But, would I “turn a noob loose” on a Linux system? Well, I must admit, I have hesitated to do that. One, because I didn’t want to be “Mr. Support” having to talk them through EVERY SINGLE THING that they wanted to do, and two, because I wasn’t sure they could handle the differences between Linux and Windows. But, recently, I actually installed Linux on a customer desktop… at the customer’s request! Why? Because he was tired of getting viruses, spyware, and having his machine crash! I gave him the usual warnings that Windows apps wouldn’t run, that he couldn’t go into a CompUSA and buy a program, but that he COULD download any Open Source program with one simple click from “Click-N-Run”… yes, it was Freespire Linux!
You know what he said? “As long as I can surf the web (with Firefox), read my e-mail (with Thunderbird), and listen to my MP3 files (with Mplayer, or Lsongs), then I will be happy… I have another system that my kids can play their Windows games on! I want to have a safe, clean web surfing machine!” Dewd. Who would have thought? Folks are beginning to “get it!”
“What I found more interesting, though, was a sea-change in how people saw the Linux desktop. It wasn’t just that there were far more people that were using Linux desktops, it was that they didn’t see it as a statement of their loyalty to Linux over Windows. They were using it simply because it worked. You could especially see this with people giving Freespire a try. Linspire made it almost impossible to be at LinuxWorld without getting a copy of its Linux. Many people decided to give it a try in its live CD mode. They were, in a word, impressed. What impressed them was the same thing that has made Freespire controversial in open-source purist circles: its incorporation of proprietary drivers and codices. With Freespire, they could just use their laptops’ WiFi capabilities without worrying about it. With Freespire, they could view QuickTime or Windows media files or streams without additional software. Yes, of course, any Linux expert can add in those capacities, but with Freespire, you don’t even need to know Linux, much less be a Linux guru, to get your laptop to just work the way a Windows user would expect it to work.”