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The Holy Grail of Linux Is Shattered

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Linux is one giant hobby. The day it is owned and controlled, even if only in fiction, in the eyes of the consuming public, is the day it ceases to be Linux. There are thousands of genuine academic, government, commercial and consumer uses for Linux, so it’s leaking into the public. Still, it’s not a commodity, because it’s never really going to be a single “thing” people can point to and say, “This is Linux.” You and I know what we mean by Linux, but the mass of users will never see that meaning. It requires too much time to grasp it; it’s not something easily inserted into the existing culture. So it remains the domain of those who feel driven to check it out, and those will never be the average Joes and Janes of computer users.

Surely, we have come close in some ways. We have good ol’ RedHat out there as the primary symbol of Linux for industrial use. Novell is trying, and may yet some day remember SUSE should mean high quality with lots of testing — as RedHat does — and still prettier, so as to offer a competing product. These two have an inkling of giving the CEO what he wants so he can sell it to the investors. Then we have a very popular public face for consumers called Ubuntu. Honestly, Canonical is struggling. Users and devoted fans love Ubuntu, but the consuming public are not impressed. Canonical doesn’t listen very well to that audience, just yet. It’s still too much the hobby Linux and not quite the consumer Linux.

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