Before I was hired for my present job I went through an interview with the young man who was CEO at the time and then a team interview with everyone except him. In the team interview one of the developers asked me if I ever worked with Macs before. My reply was something like, “Well, I never had to, but I can learn.” He chuckled and said, “’…never had to,’ I like that.” It all worked out and I got the job, but I still had to get accustomed to a big, bright, shiny iMac.
Having only used Windows for all of my adult life up to that point I felt almost as though I was learning my way around a computer for the first time. It’s been over a year and I am pretty experienced with Apple software, but I even now I don’t like it. The fact remains, though, that it certainly feels superior to any version of Windows I’ve ever used. That is why I believe it is the “gold standard” which a Linux distro needs not only to match but also surpass.
In December 2009 I switched my family’s home desktop over to Ubuntu
. I’d been toying with the idea of trying out Linux for a while and had given a couple of live CDs a spin. There were bumps along the way, like not being able to set up dual-boot because of a hardware/BIOS issue
, but when all was said and done I was quite a bit happier with Ubuntu than I was with Windows XP
. My kids adapted quickly and my wife has actually become somewhat of a casual Ubuntu evangelist. At least, every time someone mentions having an issue with Windows she extols the virtues of Ubuntu and encourages me to tell them about it. My household holds no doubt about Ubuntu being a better option, for many reasons, than any version of Windows. So why isn’t it gaining more of a foothold? It’s missing the “wow” factor.
Imagine if Ubuntu were to be developed to the point where, installed in virtually any fairly modern desktop or laptop, it were to work as well or better than a Mac. That is to say that all the “bling” would be there and none of the bugs or even “papercuts” currently experienced with Windows and Ubuntu Linux. If the Ubuntu OS were as good or (ideally) better than Mac OSX and also free
there’s little doubt it would make far more progress in the market. The real competition for any Linux development community has to be seen as Apple, not Microsoft
Apple computers do not have as large a hold percentage-wise on worldwide personal and business markets, and this can largely be attributed to the price. Another reason would be the fact that humans are creatures of habit. No matter how bad a person’s experience might be with Windows, most end up preferring that over the “unknown” of a Linux distro. Again, if Ubuntu or any Linux distro were to be seen as outdoing Apple’s OS, that combined with the “free” price tag would likely be enough to push the reluctant to make the switch.
As I said above, I don’t like Apple’s OS. I like many of the features and the sharp look, and of course I find it far more reliable that Windows. What bothers me most are perhaps the lack of a simple package manager (as found in Ubuntu) offering numerous free software options and also the somewhat obtuse way of installing downloaded software (I’m sure that will make Apple fanboys howl about my stupidity). If the Ubuntu team worldwide manages to polish what it already has to the point of meeting or exceeding Apple’s current offering I don’t see how it won’t begin to receive wider adoption. At that point Microsoft will no longer be on the radar for discussion, unless the company is willing to rise to the fresh challenge.
In truth, the future of of operating systems may not even come down to Canonical
(sponsor of Ubuntu) and Microsoft
. It could be a battle between Google
and Apple, with Microsoft fading into the background. Ah, but that’s a topic for another day….