The secret of GNU/Linux desktop adoption

Having been engineering director at one company that became public, and a founder and CTO of another, as well as a long time professional software engineer working at such companies as Matushita Electric (Panasonic), and even Rand McNally, yes, the people that make maps, I must admit, in all those occupations, I have at most rather infrequently encountered these Microsoft Windows operating systems I hear so many people talking so much about.

I recall Rob Limo once tried switching to using one of these Microsoft Windows systems for all his work, for a period I think of one week, so that he could write about the experience. I have on occasion seen these systems used by others of course. It is also not that I have no familiarity with those systems at all, but rather I have had enough experience that I'm not sure I would have the fortitude to endure something like that.

Perhaps I just don't understand the industry I work in, or why it would be so desirable to deploy insecure and unreliable operating systems provided by a sole source provider who has a history of illegal business practices. Perhaps we are failing to understand why these systems appear to be so popular. Some suggest it is about having desktop 'eye candy', though much of the eye candy I have seen being promised by Microsoft is already available in free operating systems today, without requiring one to purchase new hardware. Others suggest it is about games and applications, though I must confess I don't play games when I am at work, and I have not found any application I actually required in my professional career that a free software implementation did not exist for. Perhaps then it is something else holding back GNU/Linux desktop adoption, at least in the enterprise.

I am not suggesting GNU/Linux is immune to viruses, trojans, and spyware. However, software freedom, especially when combined with the exercise of sound software design practices, does I believe greatly reduce the prospects for virus outbreaks, as well as limiting the scope of damage that malware can do. Perhaps this is where the problem lies. Perhaps GNU/Linux is not doing well in the desktop market because it is failing to meet user expectations! Clearly the quality of the software is simply too high!

Perhaps what is needed is a crash course for our community in how to better write buggy and insecure code! Maybe we need to research how to make it necessary for the user to reboot a GNU/Linux desktop more often! Based on the market, major applications should clearly offer hooks for unintended installation of trojans and spyware, for we must conclude based on the proliferation of such software and soon to be widespread "Defective by Design" Digital Restriction Management, that users must actually enjoy or desire being spied upon. Even better, GNU/Linux vendors could work on developing the secret of product activation and validation, and offer the ability to claim the software some users have purchased is invalid, with the possibility to pay to call telephone support lines to provide them the means to re-purchase their existing software all over again. Clearly, if the computer industry is truly operating as a free market, and not in the hands of some monstrous predatory monopoly, this is the only logical conclusion we can reach!

Next week I will be away at conference; I am speaking at cluecon in Chicago. I am sure I will have something interesting to write about after that.


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