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More reasons why Linux has failed on the desktop

Linux enthusiast Gary Nielsen has listed a few reasons why his desktop is still running the Windows Vista operating system and not an Open Source alternative.

His top reason really goes back to my most recent post on this subject: Why Linux will always be stuck in the minority. (lack of good commercial software on the desktop) He also complains about poor wireless support for his machine, and that he doesn’t want to buy a Windows license to run XP/Vista in VMware.

The wireless driver complaint is a common problem with Linux.  But it’s not something you can blame on those behind Linux or the various distributions. If the manufacturer has elected to lock up the code, and has no interest in providing any support for Linux, there’s very little anyone can do to provide good support for your hardware.

You just have to chalk it down to experience and refuse to buy any systems in the future that include hardware from that company. Better yet, buy a Linux-ready machine next time from a Dell or HP that has guaranteed driver support.

Gary explains that he cannot run his Windows applications in Linux, and there’s no way to run Quicken 2008 – even with one of the popular ‘emulators’. (WINE is not an emulator) He concedes he could run Windows in a virtual machine inside Linux – but doesn’t want to pay for another OS license.

Unfortunately virtualization is the only forward if you want to run Linux on your desktop while retaining full compatibility with your Windows applications. There are too many headaches and technical issues with trying to do it in WINE or Codeweavers Crossover Linux product.

I already blogged recently why I felt Linux would never make it on the desktop. The fact is the open source movement is almost possessed by a philosophical cult that drives away the best developers from building great applications for the Linux platform. The comments in response to my post just emphasize that point.

If the software isn’t open source and free then it’s not welcomed by the most vocal and respected members of the Linux community. So where’s the incentive for developers and software companies to build great applications for Linux? There is none.

Don’t be surprised when you boot into Linux and start discovering a serious lack of great software on the platform. Do your research beforehand. Free is nice, but it tends not to attract the best developers, investment, or any kind of ongoing commitment to updates and improving the software over time.

Until there’s a sizable chunk of Linux desktop users prepared to pay for the privilege of installing and using great software, don’t expect applications like Quicken 2008 to be ported to the platform. In other words: you’ll be using Windows for many years to come if you depending on the ability to use the best of breed software applications in the marketplace.