I’ll probably catch flak from my next statements but the vast majority of end users simply use their computers for email and web browsing.
There! I said it. It’s not backed up with scientific data compiled and analyzed by stat wizzies. Instead I came to that conclusion by simply observing the natives in their own environment (or at least in my environment).
Working in an industry where I am constantly on the move I chance to observe real live everyday people doing people things, in people places, in a very people-like manner.
I didn’t watch data entry clerks sit at a desktop and enter data into a database all day.
I didn’t watch software engineers writing device drivers.
I didn’t watch dust forming on a bald man’s head while he watched grass growing under his number crunching supercomputer.
What I did see was people communicating and searching for information!
Let’s face it typical end users are regular people, not computer geeks, not software engineers, and certainly not zealots of any particular operating system.
I regularly witness people using email and browsing the web in my day to day travels. By far this is the single most frequent task I see people performing with their computers.
I also see desktop apps like spreadsheets and word processors being used for anything and everything. I saw a mother allow her child to use M$ Excel on her laptop to keep her inquisitive toddler busy while she waited for a tow truck to arrive at a travel center.
Surprisingly I did not see many folks playing high-end computer games on their desktops or laptops. I believe these type of games are being left to game consoles or portable hand held game systems. When I did see games in use it was primarily a time-killing game like Solitare.
Enter Linux: Specifically my current distro of choice Fedora Core 6
My earlier observations are significant to Linux because I believe that any Linux distribution, once installed and configured, is more than adaquate for what regular people use a computer for nowdays.
The barrier is the typical device driver and/or proprietary multimedia format limitations imposed by patents or licensing. However all that can be overcome as I’ve indicated in these articles:
So … provided a regular person has access to a Linux distro with idiot-resistant (nothing is idiot-proof) installation and upgrade tools, as well as pre-packaged addons to allow for specific hardware items and/or multi-media programs, Linux is equal to the tasks usually performed by regular people using the market leading desktop operating systems offered by Microsoft and Apple.
Fedora Core 6 is such a distro!
I have found that Fedora Core 6 is no more difficult to install and configure for a typical desktop/laptop machine than is Windows XP or OSX from Apple one the right hardware is located.
I make no bones about it. Linux will always be behind on hardware device compatibility due to the closed nature of commercial hardware and software makers. This is the only advantage XP and OSX have over Linux.
If, and until, all hardware manufacturers allow device drivers to be created by open source programmers regular people will have to do some research on their hardware prior to purchasing their desktop/laptop machines.
Once the installation of Linux is done ALL of the typical activities I’ve witnessed are able to be replicated on Fedora Core 6. Email, web browsing, office type apps, games are readily available on a typical desktop installation of Fedora Core 6.
While Linux is not as readily available to desktop/laptop users from the big comp manufacturers like Dell and HP. It is available. It is working. And it is mainstream enough to be Regular People Ready.
Now let’s argue about it ….. what do you think?