Positioning Linux In The Desktop Market (or Why Hendrix would have used Linux)

Hendrix painting by furibond
Would he have used Linux? by furibond

At the moment some people are telling us Linux would have finally lost the battle for the desktop. For justification they claim Windows 7 is overtaking the netbook market. In this essay I will argue, Linux has not lost the desktop market and it should not position itself in the low-end PC market but in the high-end.

Linux can not lose the desktop market.

As I said before, Linux can not be beaten in the market as long there are curious programmers all over the world contributing to Free Software. For the success of Free Software it is not important how many people are using it. It is important how many people are contributing to Free Software. This argument stays true for big projects, like Gnome and KDE, and for all the small projects, like Scribes, Impressive, Gnome-Do, etc., that make Open Source Software so exciting.

Linux is build as a high-end system

Linus Torvalds created Linux because there were no suitable Unix-like operating systems that he could afford. That's why he build an operating system he would find "beautiful". In conclusion it is fair to say that Linux was build as a high-end operating system. The coincidence that Linux is running on such a variety of devices is just a sign of its class and the advantage of the OSS development model.

Linux competes with OS X

Fender Stratocaster by daves_place
Fender Stratocaster by daves_place

Linux is created to be an Unix and not a DOS. If you compare operating systems to electric guitars Linux is a Fender Stratocaster. It is hard to learn but very rewarding. Windows in contrast is a Guitar Hero game controller. It is nice in the beginning but the possibilities are very limited and it hampers your creativity. Personally I think the real competitor to Linux is OS X. OS X would be a Gibson Les Paul. Very good lookin', a bit easier to play, but very expensive and not as versatile as a Strat. Like the guitars from Fender and Gibson, both operating systems have some things in common, but differ in certain aspect, especially in philosophy. The biggest similarity of the both operating systems is that they are both Unixes.

Some philosophical differences between Linux and OS X

open source vs. closed source: If you want, you can use the sources of Linux as you wish. Learn from, change it or rip it apart an build something totally new out of it. In the sense of Google's informal corporate motto "Don't be evil!" Apple is the devil. If you mess with Apple's software you could end up having a lot of fun with their lawyers. total freedem vs. a bit more guidence: Linux lets you digg very deep into the operating system. They user, if he is admin too, has total control over the system. By Design you can totally rebuild your system. OS X doesn't give you as much freedom, on the other hand you are not as likely to screw something up with your system.

The future of Linux is very bright.

Tux
A well fed penguin

Besides that Linux has a very robust business model and as such is here to stay on the desktop, I think Linux should be sold with high-end desktop PCs and laptop and should not be used on low cost hardware. It excels with high-end hardware, especially when used by talented people. Linux is a product for power users who want to use their computers to boost their creativity and create new exciting things. As Alan Key said:

The computer is simply an instrument whose music is ideas.

Now it's your turn. What is your opinion on that? By the way Hendrix mostly played the Stratocaster.