This is one post in a series, describing challenges we need to overcome to make free software ubiquitous on the desktop.
I have this weird relationship with the words “it’s not supported”.
Whenever I’m talking to an audience of typical computer users about Linux I’ll hear those words. I also often hear them when I’m meeting with organisations that could well benefit hugely from free software infrastructure or desktops. “I’ve heard about Linux, it sounds great but it’s not supported.”
This is an interesting comment, when Canonical along with many other companies offer 24×7 support for Linux. Red Hat offers support. Novell offer support. HP and IBM and others all offer support. You can get it on commercial terms pretty much anywhere, anytime.
So why do people say “Linux is not supported”?
Because the guy behind the counter at their corner PC-cafe doesn’t support it. Because the guys they deal with every day, who are more than likely a relatively small outfit, don’t support it. And even if they DO support it, they don’t have a big sticker on the front door next to the Windows logo and the Apple logo, saying “Linux”. There are huge amounts of skill in Linux in many economies out there that are effectively invisible, because they are not specifically advertised.
This is why I encourage governments to announce that some portion of their infrastructure will run on Linux – it catalyses the whole ecosystem to make their existing capacity public. It gives IT services companies a reason to put Linux on the door. It gives project managers a reason to learn about Linux deployments and how best to manage them.
There will come a day when Linux shifts from being something behind the scenes to front and center stage. Then, although the actual number of Linux-skilled people won’t have changed, people won’t say “it’s not supported”.