Other sites teach and advocate FOSS; I just pound it into your head.

A Point That Deserves Illuminating: Linux Is Not "I-Cant-Believe-Its-Not-Windows!"

Date/Time Permalink: 11/23/10 12:27:56 pm
Category: General

Every now and then I'm shocked from my usual shell of cynical apathy when a sign of intelligent life is spotted elsewhere in the technology district of Blogistan. Such a blip passed by radar a couple weeks back when Matt Hartley of Datamation arrived at the question Does Being Competitive with Windows Matter?

You know, it is damn frustrating being me, because I've spent a big chunk of five years on a blog just howling these ideas at the wind and watching almost nobody comprehend them. Then somebody else finally gets it, and gee, even then the concept is only party fleshed out and the readers only partly comprehend it, and then after two weeks the debate has moved back to the usual run-of-the-mill babble. Hey, thanks, Renaissance, see you in another five years!

There's a saving grace, though. Events outside of the Windows-vs-Linux-on-the-desktop have moved on to change the field.

So, we used to have two conflicting parties trying to adapt the same machine. Suzy User just wants something, anything, to do a short list of basic operations: email, web browsing, playing multimedia, and playing games. Suzy User is a content consumer. And her only choice used to be the desktop computer.

Then we have Joe Geek who needs the computer to build things. Joe might write that email and web browsing program, run a server, design those games, and produce some of that multimedia content. Joe Geek is a content producer.

The difference between consumer needs and producer needs appear to be clearly understood everywhere else. You don't sell a forklift to a soccer mom, and you don't force a warehouse worker to try to drag pallets of boxes around in an SUV. I could go on with more examples, right? Everybody grasps the concept that the needs of a consumer and a producer are different?

So why has nobody but me said for years that you can't force Joe Geek and Suzy User to be happy with the same computer? What, am I living in an alternate universe here?

The battle that has raged for 20 years has a break now, though. Instead of anybody solving the problem, it's going to quietly solve itself in a sort of evolutionary way. Suzy User has discovered the smart-phone. That's the saving grace, the change in the field, the end - finally! - of the war.

Yay! Now everybody can have what they want! I would actually like to see the worlds become more polarized, because that is the happiest solution. I look forward to the day when a computer is seen as something you'd only need to buy if you are a producer. This doesn't mean that you can't also consume on the same device. But now the straight-consumer has a device especially for them, and so they won't be trying to turn my production device into a consumption device. Then we don't have to dumb down the desktop.

That's where all the newbies-vs-geeks strife has been coming from.

It sure will be funny to see some 500 years from now when the human race unearths all the blogs from the archives and goes, "Wow, they really didn't have the first clue about what these computer things were all about, did they?"

you can't fit a Linux peg in a Windows hole

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