We can assume that Shuttleworth is being optimistic and pro-Linux because he is so invested in it. So I won’t write off what he has to say, but we will not be surprised at his exuberance. Vaughan-Nichols bothers to make a comparison between the Mac system and the Linux system and bases his conclusion on that. Sorry, Stevo, but that’s dumb. If that was the basis for what system is going to be growing vs shrinking in user base, then where would Windows be? Out the window, certainly.
I think there are two types of people who will put Linux on their desktop in their notebooks. One, obviously is the geek, and we need not discuss that further other than to say that there are not enough true geeks to move Linux very far ahead in user base.
The other people are serious computer users … people who are not programmers or engineers or fiddlers with hardware, but who need a serious computer … who simply don’t like windows and don’t like macs and who have not been convinced by their ‘friends’ to be afraid.
Membership in this group of people who may prefer the simple power and versatility of Linux would grow for financial reasons as well. As long as the Microsoft philosophy remains “the users will upgrade, the users will pay” and the Mac philosophy remains, well, similar, there will be people who look at the computer that costs a third of a Mac and half of a Windows-infected box and pick the one they can afford that does what they need it to do.
Right now, I still believe that Linux is not for everyone. It is not for the faint of heart, it is not for people who like to whine. It is not for individuals who are not very smart or who don’t really need a computer that works well and packs a punch. People who don’t know their Ram from their Rom or the difference …. or lack thereof …. between a file and a folder need to be hand held by their Mac or bullied by their Windows box had better stay away.
Fortunately, none of these attributes apply to children. Children have not yet learned to be selectively ignorant of technology or afraid of what they are told to be afraid of. My daughter is equally competent at Mac System X, Linux KDE or Gnome, and Windows. She does not see them as really different. I wish more children (among those that are exposed to computers to begin with) were more widely exposed to different approaches. Were that to happen, unless Macs became cheap or Windows computers became sensible, you can bet Linux will take a much larger share of the user base.