A reminder of Linux’s failure to launch

Last night I was reminded of why Linux’s failure to launch on the desktop will continue. It still does not survive the grandparent’s test.

In my case, my stepfather wished to view videos and flash on the web. That, of course, doesn’t come naturally with Kubuntu, unless you’re wanting to watch video on with a free/open-source codec that is used by about 0.000001% of the web. If you’d like to use Quicktime or WMV, that offers a bit of a challenge.

He called me up and said, “I researched this and read on the forums on how to do it… open up the terminal, make these directories, type this shit and all that shit, some apt-get somethingorother… and what does sudo mean?”

I offered to come over and help. Regardless, I know that automatix2 is the cheap way out of this situation and potentially borks up the system, but with the little time I had to play with, I didn’t have much choice.

Ultimately, the Linux community still just doesn’t get it. Let me reiterate this for you. Your product – the fruits of your labor or whatever you wish to call it – will not… repeat… NOT… EVER… SUCCEED on the desktop until you find a way to make this stuff easy and work out of the box. Period. Stop expecting that grandpa can open up a terminal session and whack his way through commands on the terminal. Give him an icon to click. Then… and only then… will you start to succeed.

Until that day, you will continue to fail in your quest for larger desktop share.

/me shrugs.

Hey, maybe you didn’t want a larger desktop share anyway. If that’s the case, that’s fine. Then you’re succeeding. We’ll just continue on fighting those zombie drones that pick up orders from IRC every day. Not a problem.


Update: How ironic that this opinion article just showed up on my feed reader. I did not know there was a heated debate forming on this – but at least this issue is getting recognized by the concerned parties with a stake in the ground.