I’ve been interested in OSS and GNU/Linux for many years and wondered (as well as read) often “Is this the year for Linux?” I do think there is a tipping point and we may be quite near it, a quiet momentum that will tip the balance from a proprietary to an OSS world.
I’ve been running dual booting systems for several years now, but Ubuntu has become my preferred OS. I have no desire to switch to Vista. In fact, it seems Vista may be a force contributing to the tipping point. Rupert Goodwins of ZD net UK writes quite nicely about his preference of Ubuntu to Windows:
So here’s the funny thing. I’ve used Windows since 1.0. I’ve lived through the bad times of Windows/386 and ME, and the good times of NT 3.51 and 2K. I know XP if not backwards, then with a degree of familiarity that only middle-aged co-dependents can afford each other. Along the way, I’ve dallied with many other operating systems on many other platforms – but never with Unix and only lately with Linux.
Then how come I’m so much more at home with Ubuntu than Vista? It boils down to one abiding impression: Ubuntu goes out of its way to get out of your way, even if it doesn’t succeed all the time. Vista goes out of its way to be Vista and enforce the Vista way. You must conform regardless of the implications.
But, the real change will come with the mass marketing of GNU/Linux machines. Dell has already started selling systems, and HP and Lenovo(IBM) are following this lead. In fact, HP is a big player in the OSS movement* winning the hearts and dollars of many in OSS movement by providing Linux drivers for their hardware. And here is a fulcrum point of the tipping – hardware support. We live in a world where hardware is made to work with Window and does so with proprietary drivers. When this changes, acceptance of GNU/Linux will grow. Again, new incarnations of Windows which don’t support hardware (esp. the case with Vista) adds weight. Linux actually supports more devices than any other OS and many of those were reverse engineered by those in the community. Big OEM like Dell will force manufacturers to write drivers for Linux.
*IBM is also a big player in the OSS movement and has contributed greatly.