Rob Pregoraro at the Washington Post asks the question, “How can an operating system with those virtues, the open-source Linux, remain confined to a tiny minority of desktop and laptop computers at home? “. He’s missed the mark. GNU/Linux is not confined to a tiny minority of computers at home. It may be in the USA but globally, GNU/Linux is on about 10% of PCs. We know that because Ballmer told us and that was a while ago. 30% of netbooks run GNU/Linux and almost all ARMed devices do not run that other OS.You can buy “no OS” and GNU/Linux PCs from most OEMs and some retail outfits.
The issues he implies are holding back GNU/Linux have nothing to do with many homes where DVDs are not watched. Who ever thought of using a PC to watch DVDs rather than using a DVD player and a television? I have XP machines in this building that have DVD players but do not play DVD movies. Ask the teachers who bought CDs for them. DVD sales fell 9% in 2009. They are not pivotal in the acquisition of a PC used for games, word-processing, browsing, or e-mailing. YouTube distributed more video than Hollywood. YouTube does not distribute DVDs.
No, video is not the holdup. Go into most big box retail stores and you are unlikely to see even one PC with GNU/Linux, not because people will not buy them or use them, but because a seller makes more money selling a more expensive PC, period. It has nothing to do with performance or user-friendliness. It has everything to do with exclusive dealing by M$, OEMs and retailers. Here, I have people walk up to me and ask me to install GNU/Linux on their computers because they have seen how well it works. The world has seen GNU/Linux run rings around that other OS on netbooks and on the web. The world wants GNU/Linux and will get it when they demand it. That is happening now.
Today, I paved over (with Debian GNU/Linux) six brand new PCs sold by OEMs with that other OS because they work much better with GNU/Linux. That is all the reason anyone needs to use GNU/Linux. The rest of the features of GNU/Linux are a bonus. Of a shipment of 12 PCs probably 10 will run GNU/Linux because that is what the end-users asked. A couple are leaving and they do not care what OS is on their PC. Only two asked for that other OS for their own reasons, one of which was for DVDs to play video. The fact that we can create and edit our own video with these PCs running GNU/Linux just as some of the big studios do is all the proof I need to insist video is not a problem for GNU/Linux. If suppliers of DVDs want to ignore GNU/Linux as a market, they may do so at their own peril. GNU/Linux is growing in popularity much faster than that other OS. The new WebM file format and included encoding pretty well guarantee that GNU/Linux will not have this problem much longer. Distributors of video who want to distribute to those using GNU/Linux would be well advised to use WebM.
In this school we have a number of HP CP1215 printers. They are not wonderful but we have a bunch. A teacher in one room is running that other OS. It took two tries to download and install a driver from HP, about an hour of time was wasted. XP could not find it on its own. In GNU/Linux, I plugged in the printer, clicked “find printer” on CUPS (http://localhost:631) and installed the thing in seconds. I have encountered many printers that that other OS offered no help in installing. Same thing with our wireless devices. The installation on XP is the pits. The device is instantly recognized in GNU/Linux. It took two hours to set up a new XP machine to run on our LAN and use our printers for the lady who wanted DVDs to play. Another teacher out of the blue asked me whether an educational CD he had would work with GNU/Linux. I installed Wine and it did. Now we have a GNU/Linux box that can also run malware…