Linux has come a long, long way since it was first brought to the scene. It has gained a huge level of support in the community and has garnered a well deserved reputation for stability and flexibility. Consider that you can have some of the best distributions for the price of a download, with no licensing fees or use restrictions to speak of, and you have the makings of a sure-fire winner. In fact, there is so much potential here it is almost unfathomable.
Linux has a powerful command-line foundation that is fully functional without a GUI of any kind. It may not be the easiest to navigate, but anyone can get a copy of the AWESOME Midnight Commander application, the famous and incredibly useful Norton Commander clone for Linux, and be productive within minutes. Navigating folders with long file names and editing configuration files on the fly could not get much easier at the command line level.
Midnight Commander in Action
The upper left image shows MC in its default state. The upper right shows the file menu. The lower left demonstrates the ability to view the contents of archived files while the lower right shows the default file copy dialog. MC is a powerful tool worth learning about.
You have Samba, which allows you to connect to Windows networks. You have built in TCP/IP, with no need for those other pansy protocols. You have an extremely dedicated and capable creator and a community full of passionate supporters who are willing to go out of their way to help the community get the very best out of the Linux platform. Finally, you don't have some "big-brother" agency looking over your shoulder threatening you with license audits when you tell them you don't want to upgrade to the next release of their software.
With all of this going for it, how come Linux has not exploded even more than it has? How come it has not penetrated corporations to a larger degree? How come users have been so resistant to it on the desktop / client level? There are any number of possible reasons, and to be honest, I'm not expert enough to be able to nail them all down with absolute certainty. But I, like so many of you, am a huge supporter of the platform and a rabid enthusiast who spends countless hours tweaking and tinkering with various distributions. It is a synergy of sorts. I learn about the complexities while working to customize the system, and as an old DOS guy from way back, it is actually pretty fun.
It is from that perspective that I will write this article. I'll try to pinpoint those areas of concern that I have and that others have expressed to me and discuss what we think needs to be done to help Linux become more widely accepted and understood. If you have ideas and information not expressed in this article, please contribute to the forums and let your voice be heard as well.