The Geeks Will Never Understand

The next big war will involve some conventional weapons, and maybe even WMDs, but the real warfare will be virtual in nature. What really matters won’t be the killing of people and breaking things, but a dramatic shift in the way things are done on the Internet.

I believe the single biggest change will be the sudden rise in the likes of China and Russia switching mostly to Linux to avoid the US government snooping and manipulation coming through Windows. This is a preemptive strike already under way. This will greatly reduce the market penetration of Windows. As it is, MS has already bailed out on the phone market, and isn’t doing too well in the tablet market (depending on how you look at it). Here in the West, MS may well hang on by making MS Office more accessible, but Windows is just a short distance from dying out.

So Linux will eventually take over the bulk of global computing, but not because of the efforts of Linux advocacy. Instead, it will be the politics of espionage through closed source software. They’ll choose Linux because there’s not much else they can trust, and it’s too late to build an OS from scratch.

Linux could do better here at home in the US, but the advocacy rests on all the wrong ideas. Here’s how you fail to take over the market: Tell people what they need, the way Linux fanboys and developers do. To succeed, you have to find out what the market wants, and provide it, never mind what you think is in the users’ best interest. Linux was born of the internal wishes of developers, and most of the projects still appear to run on that ideal. The few commercially successful Linux companies are those trying to meet the market where it is (yes, it’s a moving target). The most popular Linux distros are those that strive to bring Linux to the non-geek masses.

Gnome is hostile to the non-geek user. KDE can be in some ways, as the development is mostly aimed at some internal ideals, same as Gnome, only different ideals. KDE needs to understand that eye candy is eye candy, and appearance settings need to be simple and unified, not confusingly parceled out among different, unrelated settings windows. Unity was actually pretty user friendly, in that testing showed neophytes could adapt to it more quickly than most other desktops, but Unity is gone now. It waits for someone else to come up with something that ordinary users can embrace. It doesn’t have to be just like Windows (though anything like the Win7/XP desktop would be quite well received), but it has to be something that typical users can grasp quickly.

As long as Linux advocates and developers fail to see beyond their personal preferences, or some purified ideal vision of computing Nirvana, people will not voluntary move from Windows here in the US. Oh, and it darned sure better work with all hardware better than Win10 does, and to hell with silly purist notions about the Open Source ideal. If someone wants to offer a working driver on Linux that is closed source, grab it and say, “Yes, thank you!” Current printers: Need I say more?

But no, Linux will grow in spite of this major attitude problem in the Linux community. It’s almost as if the geeks are doing a stiff-arm to keep the door close against the unwashed masses, along with anyone with technical competence who wants to serve those masses. We can safely say that Linux will grow in spite of the fanboys, and the momentum won’t go where the purists want it to go.

At any rate, US imperial dominance is corroding quickly, and with the collapse of that dominance will fall the fortunes of many companies that aren’t willing or able to detach from their US identity. MS has already chosen the wrong path; it will likely survive, but on a far smaller scale.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
This entry was posted in computers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Geeks Will Never Understand

  1. Robin says:

    And yet, all this “user friendliness” was created by the geekiest of geeks! The same arrogant snobs who chose me for using a “kiddie distro” are the very ones who helped make it that way.


  2. Ed Hurst says:

    Well, Robin, I suppose I could have sliced it a little thinner, but I wanted to keep the post simple at the risk of oversimplifying. We know that Canonical takes heat for not returning much to the development of the core system, and the serious Linux Geeks sneer at anyone who uses Ubuntu and friends. I used to write for an online magazine about Linux and BSD, and when I’ve communicated with developers as a whole, the attitude I noted in my post is what I’ve encountered. A few get it, but they are the minority.

    Liked by 1 person

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