Dana Blankenhorn sums it up in one word: Applications. He reminds us:
When my wife first got her current job, as a programmer at a local transaction processor, she said she enjoyed it because her computer “actually does something.”
Fact is that operating systems, by themselves, do nothing. They are a platform on which you build programs that actually do things.
This remains the biggest challenge faced by open source.
Microsoft’s big advantage is that it has an ecosystem whereby applications can reach the market. It has nothing to do with the quality of Windows. Developers know they can reach buyers with Windows applications, through established channels of distribution.
Now it’s too late to expect a line of shrink-wrapped Linux applications over at Fry’s or BestBuy. Today’s channel consists primarily of downloads. But even here there just isn’t that much, only partly because the idealists’ Linux model is you don’t sell software at all, but services.
Yes. I know that Google is a Linux application. I know most Web servers run Linux, so Web services will mostly be Linux-based. I also know that there are Linux analogues to all the office applications you use most often. And that there are Linux versions of many middleware programs.
But I’m still going to remain on the hunt for more open source applications, and for open source distribution. It’s the fastest route to open source clients.