Every year there's yet another story about how this is really the year of Linux. Well it's still not here. I'll tell you why.
- The marketplace is confusing for customers (both corporate and consumer) there are too many choices. Many people are waiting by the sidelines for the competition to sort itself out. VHS vs. Betamax, HD-DVD vs. Blueray... try Ubuntu vs. Redhat, vs. Suse, etc. etc. It's so confusing many customers prefer to just pick
- Hardware doesn't always work. The fact that Dell is now shipping Ubuntu on some boxes is huge but it's the beginning and it can't be an isolated event. HP, Toshiba, Sony, Acer, Gateway where are you guys? Until most hardware is shipped with working drivers it's not going to be ready for prime time. Many companies give Linux good lip service but a much smaller number are willing to open their wallets and bet the business on it.
- Low level problems still dominate the bulk of the work being done. Driver and the open souce politics of drivers (NVidia and ATI). Many people equate Linux with open source and this doesn't match up with many companies existing politics. In many ways Linux is not just an operating system but a philosophy. It's one thing to convince a company of the fiscal benefits of Linux but it's a much longer process to get them to change thier approach to developing software (open source). Without the ability to split these things Linux feels like it's really close but since the politics don't change it's never quite close enough.
- Teams are working harder but not always smarter. Many bugs are duplicated across distributions and there is no good way to track and monitor the work and progress that is being made across distribution teams. There's still a ton of duplicated effort.
- Scheduling releases continues to be problematic. Major & Minor releases from the Kernel and from various distributions don't line up making it difficult to schedule, drive and push release dates.
- Lastly saying 'year of Linux' just doesn't make sense. Linux devices are all over the place already from cell phones, routers, medical devices, embedded computers and more. Mission accomplished, right? Saying 'Year of Desktop Linux' doesn't make much sense. To get mass adoption you need support from the hardware makers and so far it seems that hardware manufacturers are being dragged to Linux kicking and screaming.
Don't get me wrong. I do believe that in my lifetime an open source OS will have a non-minority market share but keep your champagne bottles corked. There are still many mountains to climb.