um, are you serious? Linux is the number one server OS in the world right now and is quickly gaining market share in the desktop and workstation markets. It’s free, community developed, community supported, secure, stable, and robust as hell. If you’ve never heard people compliment it, you’re either not listening, or you’re talking to the wrong people.
Unfortunately, it’s still too hard for Joe Average to install by himself and is rarely available as a pre-installed option when Joe buys his computer.
Everyone I know who’s able to install and run Linux is also savvy enough to run Windows without getting infected by virus or spyware.
Last time I checked (maybe 6 months ago) Ubuntu had made great progress in simplifying the install process, but there is still quite a bit of unsupported hardware out there, and when Joe calls his friend (who only knows Windows) for help, he gets the answer “reinstall Windows.”
honestly, I find the ubuntu install process more straightforward than the windows install. It’s really not very hard (although I have a degree in computer science, so I guess I have a skewed perspective).
And honestly, the amount of unsupported hardware is not nearly as vast as it used to be, even as far back as last year. Nvidia and ATI both provide pretty solid linux drivers now, most onboard sound works fine under ALSA, as do most extra sound cards. The only really valid complaint I can see people having is the lack of games, and the lack of a tech support number to call when things go wrong.
But honestly, most people who aren’t hardcore gamers are happy with ps3/xbox360/wii, and most people just bitch about tech support being terrible anyway. Once you learn how to use google, most problems aren’t that hard to fix (unless you’re trying to do something really abnormal, which, if you’re not really a computer person, you probably shouldn’t do anyway).
Anyway, I think the biggest problem most people have to overcome when using linux for the first time is just the fact that it looks different. Same thing when Mac users switch to windows, or vice versa. People expect things to be in the same place or work the same way as on the system they’re used to.
I, for one, found OS X terribly clumsy and frustrating when I first started using it (being used to windows or a command line). Now I find it pretty efficient, although I’d make a few changes if I could. Same with windows, there are some things that work well, others I would like to change.
That’s one of the reasons I like the linux window managers so much (like gnome, kde, etc…) you can pretty much customize them to look and act however you like. Hell, I have a gentoo box running kde that looks and acts almost exactly like OS X’s aqua window manager, with a few tweaks.
Overall, any new or replacement program or operating system will take some getting used to, but I believe linux has finally gotten to the point where it’s usable as a desktop system for your reasonably intelligent user who’s willing to do a little bit of digging on occasion to figure something out.
Anyway, it’s late and I’m ranting on about one of my favorite topics. Sorry for the long-winded post.
p.s. regarding preinstalled linux, check out nick petreleys column in this month’s linux journal, he talks about how the inevitable bombing of Vista will make a lot of room in the market for linux desktops.