The “character” I like most about the free software community is that it is not afraid of setting itself audacious goals. I like that in a person, especially when combined with a cunning plan, good ethics and a capacity for work, and if you think of the free software community as a gaia-like “living creature” it very much has those same traits.

As a community, we’ve done amazingly well in terms of challenging the historical epicenter of computing – the supercomputer and data center – and driving change there. Linux now represents a healthy and growing share of infrastructure in large organisations globally. Apache and other infrastructural components have established the new de facto standard for software in the back office: freedom. It would be easy to declare victory.

But, as anybody who flies in the backseat of a military plane to land on a carrier and declare victory will tell you, it would be premature.

The real challenge lies ahead – taking free software to the mass market, to your grandparents, to your nieces and nephews, to your friends. This is the next wave, and if we are to be successful we need to articulate the audacious goals clearly and loudly – because that’s how the community process works best.

With that in mind I think I’ll serialise in this blog a speech I’ve enjoyed giving recently, which lists a set of challenges and goals, obstacles and mountains to be overcome on our way to making free software the de facto standard for home and office computing. History shows that the free software community can organise itself to attain any well articulated goal around which there is broad consensus of it’s merit and difficulty. Perhaps these ideas will be food for thought in those lofty circles 🙂

48 Responses to “Big challenges for the Free Software Community”

  1. Joseph Says:

    My main question is when and where can I find notebooks and desktops with Ubuntu pre-installed? I’m sick of paying the Microsoft Tax on hardware. Could you please list Ubuntu pre-installers (preferably with a link to their page) on teh Ubuntu main page? Maybe with a map of the Earth so that you can pick regions/countries?

  2. Nathan Says:

    Hi there, great lead.

    I was wondering if you had seen this story
    as it has quite a bit to say about challenging the entire Linux Community to help squash Bug #1.

  3. Paul Broadbent Says:

    I’ve always found it difficult to know how to promote free software to friends and family, I know it is better, both ethically and practically, and I know that they would appreciate it, but I also know that they will have to get over the initial learning curve of switching operating system.

    Some things that were hard or impossible to do in windows will now be very easy, but also some thing that were easy in windows will now (at least while they are getting used to it) be difficult. The incredible usability of Ubuntu has definitely helped, but there are still a significant difference( and I’m not criticising that fact, we do NEED to be different).

    And because Windows, to a limited extent, works and allows people to do what they want it is hard to find a significant enough reason for people to go through the effort of learning a new OS.

    Of course, programmers that want power over their own computer, people with concerns about propriety software and victims of window’s flaws (such as its high system requirements and its vulnerability to spyware and viruses) are easy to convert. But the others are far harder.

    I will look forward to the future blogs on this topic with great anticipation.

  4. Metro Says:

    My admiration for you work with Ubuntu. You will make history 🙂

    Now to the real chalenges:) I hope we can see one day Ubuntu Live CD with laptops all over the place. The bigest problem to spread Linux is installing it on the right hardware. I can do it, you can do it but many people can’t. If we can have pre-instaled Ubuntu or a Live CD especific for laptop A or laptop B with everything working right from the start it will rock. If we expect to people install it on a laptop and next need to install Nvidia drivers or ATI drivers and the program A and the program B it will be dificult. Very dificult.
    The next step is also wath you have also touched here in this article:

    We need to give Linux the most simple way to setup wireless. If we can’t do it more easy than in Windows, Linux will not go forward.

    This is the perspective from a noob. The one that use Automatix to setup Ubuntu with everyting. Forget the Linux power user. They are not the ones to change to Linux. They already are here.

    I hope you and the developpers form Debian and Ubuntu can do it. I now you can.
    With that we can fix the NÂș1 bug 🙂

  5. Hic sunt trolls — Grandes retos para la comunidad del Software Libre Says:

    […] Leo Big challenges for the Free Software Community, en el blog de Mark Shuttleworth, y como no puedo estar mĂĄs de acuerdo con Ă©l me dispongo a traducirlo: La “caracterĂ­stica” que mĂĄs me gusta sobre el Software Libre es que no tiene miedo de auto-imponerse metas audaces. Eso me gusta en una persona, en especial si tiene un plan hĂĄbil, buena Ă©tica y capacidad de trabajar; y si pensamos en la comunidad del software libre como en una “criatura viva” tipo Gaia resulta que tiene esos mismos rasgos. Como comunidad, lo hemos hecho sorprendentemente bien en tĂ©rminos de desafiar al epicentro histĂłrico de la computaciĂłn (centros de datos y de supercomputaciĂłn),y llevar el cambio allĂ­. Ahora Linux representa una parte importante y creciente de la infraestructura de grandes organizaciones de manera global. Apache, y otros componentes infraestructurales, han establecido los nuevos estĂĄndares de facto para el software en la trastienda (back office): libertad. SerĂ­a fĂĄcil declarar la victoria. […]

  6. Mathieu Laurent Says:

    For my mother, an incredimail-like extension for mozilla thunderbird 😉 to send funny mail

  7. Pat E. Cake Says:

    Mark, you are a living legend. I consider myself grateful for being alive in a time when I can voice my thanks for what you’ve done to date for free software directly via your site’s comment form.

    Thank you for all you’ve done so far, and my best wishes for your future with Ubuntu and free software.

    I could go on for pages with thanks, but I am a poor writer, so in short, thank you! Unlike some pathetic rich people who screw others with DRM and lockins like DirectX, you move humanity forward towards freedom.

  8. Doener Says:

    >The real challenge lies ahead – taking free software to the mass market, to your grandparents, to your nieces and nephews, to your friends.

    To do this, improvements in usability and easyness need to be done. WPA(2) support out of the box e.g.

  9. mantrax Says:

    DRIVERS! That’s one of de biggest problems I think. I had a lot of problems with Wifi, Video, Sound, all my life trying distros of linux.

  10. jose hevia Says:

    To do this,IMHO, free software needs to create something exclusive people want(something only Linux has others not) and this is not easy to happend in a world in wich:
    -MS has exclusivity over commercial games(via directX)
    -MS has exclusivity over commercial apps (that were created for Windows because of mass market and now are very expensive to port).
    -MS has exclusivity over OEM sellers(via quota discount agreement “HP recommends MS Windows”).
    -Apple has exclusivity over professional desktops apps.

    Linux has to break them all, we will see…

  11. Paul Selby Says:

    >The real challenge lies ahead – taking free software to the mass market, to your grandparents, to your nieces and nephews, to your friends.

    It’s a significant undertaking for the reasons in the prior comment By Doener and Jose. I would add to Jose’s list that Linux/Ubuntu need some noteworthy examples of people using Linux/Ubuntu to get the pragmatists to move. You can make all those things available but the maintstream won’t move unless they see others have made the transition. And Linux/Ubuntu don’t need to ‘break them all’, just need need one or two beachheads to carry across.

    The Windows PC (and even the Mac) are on ‘main street’ (to put it in Geoffrey Moore terms) when it comes to consumer use, Linux/Ubuntu is really in ‘the chasm’. Linux/Ubuntu must select a ‘bowling pin’ to go make the transition for the consumer market. Linux/Ubuntu are more ‘inside the tornado’ I would argue for the server-side, but the workstation-side move for consumers will take time and a planned attack.

  12. Gord Allott Says:

    to be honist i have found in my free software spreading ways that people _like_ free software, they love the fact that its free (money), they love the fact that when it works it generally keeps working and they love the fact that its generally easy to use (ie no fifteen thousand ‘wizards’ before you get going). the only stopping process i have found is the lack of games working out of the box so to speak, otherwise everyone i have talked to (friends and family) has loved free software.

    the whole ‘people _need_ office/photoshop/windows apps’ and that they need things to ‘just work’ 100% of the time is a myth.

  13. Ilkka SvÀrd Says:

    EnsinnĂ€kin pyydĂ€n anteeksi kielitaidottomuuttani, siis anteeksi. Saattaa olla ettĂ€ kirjotan ihan vÀÀrÀÀn paikkaan mutta ehkĂ€ terveiseni menevĂ€t perille tĂ€stĂ€kin, olen ymmĂ€rtĂ€nyt ettĂ€ projektin tarkoitus on antaa mahdollisuus niillekin kenellĂ€ ei taloudellisesti ole varaa hankkia pc’tĂ€, kuitenkin myös hyvinvointi valtioissa on henkilöitĂ€ jotka tulevat toimeen melko kohtuullisesti mutta suurien etĂ€isyyksien takia ei ole mahdollisuutta hankkia kohtuuhintaista adsl liittymÀÀ tai ei edes kallista liittymÀÀ, monien vanhusten lapset ovat muuttaneet jopa yli tuhannen kilometrin pÀÀhĂ€n synnyinsioiltaan, noh tĂ€mĂ€hĂ€n on pientĂ€ jos verrataan sitĂ€ afrikan hĂ€tÀÀn, siihen verrattuna minun kuuluisi pitÀÀ pÀÀni kiinni. Nyt kuitenkin suomeen on tulossa langaton verkko joka kattaa ensin pÀÀkaupunkiseudun ja , huomaa, ja haja asutus alueen, uskoisin ettĂ€ olemme tÀÀllĂ€ suomessa ottamassa askeleita lĂ€hemmĂ€s demokratiaa niin kuin historiastamme voitte Te Mark Shutteworth tiedĂ€tte ( jos ette tiedĂ€ niin lukekaa esim. naisten ÀÀni oikeudesta) jos olette jaksanut lukea tĂ€hĂ€n saakka niin arvannette ettĂ€ pyrin siihen ettĂ€ myös langaton liitymĂ€ olisi helpompi toteuttaa, liian usein joutuu lukemaan erinĂ€isiltĂ€ palstoilta ettĂ€ kannattaa opetella pÀÀtteen kĂ€yttö, minulta 47v mieheltĂ€ moni asia on ollut liian vaikeaa ilman suomen ubuntun keskustelupalstoja, miten joltain vanhemmalta metsurilta voisi moista olettaa jolla matkaa lĂ€himpÀÀn pankkiin saattaa olla yleisiĂ€ kulkuneuvoja kĂ€yttĂ€en pĂ€ivĂ€n reissu. Olen vanhoista koneista tehnyt nettikoneita ja yhtÀÀn ei ole jÀÀnyt kĂ€siin,, miten olisi kampanja jossa firmat ja pankit lahjoittaisivat koneensa, ilmottaudun vapaaehtoiseksi tyhjentĂ€mÀÀn niiden kovalevyt vaaditulla tavalla ja asentamaan niihin ubuntun + herkut
    YstÀvÀllisesti Ilkka

  14. Nicholas Butler Says:

    I hope this will be the NBig Challenges speech, because everyone seems to think im mad when I quote from some speech M Shuttleworth gave at LRL06. Then again they think im mad anyway so no difference I suppose. I love watching people argue why people wont change from Windows. More than that I like watching the rationalisation of why we should not bother or not attempt it. I think sometimes we are the only industry that sets itself goals in order to dismiss them as unachievable. I know I appreciate the NBig challenges talk because it sets out the agenda for change that ive been articulating since 1998. There is a great British example of how a latecomer can change the market ( Dyson anyone ? ) so its entirely possible that the market will change because it wants to and is interested in change.

  15. Paul Merchant Says:

    I’m looking forward to this speech, Mark. After I started to use Ubuntu several months ago, I watched some of your speeches on Google Video. There was one time in particular, during a Q&A session with Debian developers in July of 2005, when you were so eloquent that you helped to change my thinking. A few words of yours convinced me that OSS was not simply an idealistic dream, but the pragmatic, economically viable, and inevitable future of software.

    Recognizing the challenges is good. Helping to overcome them is better. But, to me, sharing your vision and your understanding of the software ecology — which is very practical, by the way — is the best thing you can do.

  16. Chung Hui, Pan Says:

    I don’t think it is possible to make the software completely free of charge. If people can not make any money out of programming who is going to spend time to create a program. I think they should really need to lower the price of a software and make it more affordable to people instead of trying to go for the max profit. lowering the price is also the way to encourage people to buy the original software. Most of people using the pirate software is because they simply cannot afford it.

  17. Brian Kelsay Says:

    “But, as anybody who flies in the backseat of a military plane to land on a carrier and declare victory will tell you, it would be premature.”

    Will you liberal people PLEASE stop misrepresenting this. The President was flying in, one of the few ways he could, to thank the crew of ONE SHIP that was returning home on leave. THEIR mission was accomplished and they were leaving on their scheduled rotation.

    Now back to software. Let’s only talk politics, where it relates to software. DRM is terrible. Most artists don’t get paid a decent fraction of the profit made from, music, movies, etc. and they won’t make any more due to DRM.

    I would like an easier method to install codecs for DVD viewing, MP3 listening, picture viewing and some easy method to load a Windows driver for my device IF THAT IS THE ONLY CHOICE. Why can’t there be an official *ubuntu script that will install w32codecs, flash, acrobat, embedded players in Firefox and other browsers, and DVD support? A script that is part of the distro, that grabs the naughty bits off a server in a user friendly country.

    I have a USB printer that is supposed to work, but can’t figure out the printer setup. I’d like to be able to plug in my Rio, that has a proprietary file system format and doesn’t even work right on Windows and add some songs to it. USB pen drives and USB external drives work great, mostly, but can use just a little bit more attention.

    In closing, thank you for the wonderful Ubuntu and Kubuntu distributions, attention to details, to user’s needs and wants, making a fairly easy-to-use ditro, based on Debian and using the Debian updating tools. thank you for investing in the users.

  18. Alexey Says:

    I think the main Linux task is to populate it in schools. A new user generation must be grown up, a new generation, which “thinks different”. I live in Russia, and DVD with WindowsXP and Office XP costs about 5 $ (just imagine 5$), you can buy it everywhere. When i talk to my friends, “common guys, try Ubuntu, it’s nice to use it”, they answer “Why should I use Ubuntu, when i have Windows for 5 $” and i don’t have anything to answer. People don’t see anything Windows, because they are lazy and don’t want to see anything else. We must say : “Linux is not better, Linux is another philosophy another point of view, be free, try to use it”.

  19. Alexey Says:

    One more example:
    My wife didn’t have any experience in working with Computer. She asked me to buy one. I did it and installed Ubuntu 6.06. She asked me if it was Windows, i answered “Windows is too difficult and i installed OS which is easer to understand”. There were no problems in future, she begun using Ubuntu without any questions. I believe, it happened, because she didn’t have any Windows Experience, that’s why i don’t believe people, who says Linux is too difficult.

  20. Plector Fructis Says:

    Well, about installing codecs, dvd support, adobe, flash, java and many more things I don’t care for, you can try automatix2.

    It is a GUI utility that takes care about everything not already inside a basic ubuntu install. For me, it’s a two step process. 1.- Install ubuntu 2.- follow tutorial to install automatix2 from getautomatix website.

    Then go do something else, depending on your connection speed. There is nothing like this two step process in the windows world, as far as I know.

  21. Markus Wolff Says:

    Here’s what I think is really needed for Feisty (or any other distribution, for that matter) to make people switch to Linux:

    1. Intuitive Multimedia support:

    A user should not be required to search for information about video codecs. He shouldn’t even have to know what a codec is (right now, if you don’t know what a codec is, you’ll have trouble finding information on why your videos won’t play).

    If a video doesn’t play a window should pop up that says the video requires additional software to be played. “Do you want to install the required components?” – that should be the one question the user is being asked.

    The player should automatically determine the needed codec, install it immediately if there’s a free-software solution and ask the user what to do if there’s none. Options for what to do must be either: Risk installing a component illegal in your country *or* purchase a commercial license for the particular codec, or a codec pack containing a number of licensed codecs.

    For purchasing codecs, the user should not be required to register a new user account somewhere, it should just be a form to enter payment information (more than just credit card is required, as many people don’t have any) and upon payment, the codec should immediately install.

    2. One-Click Software Installation:

    No “normal” user wants to think about software in terms of packages, or think about dependencies. Package managers like Synaptic or Adept are far too complicated for the average user. A one-click-install method is needed. Ubuntu’s “Install Additional Software” feature is a step into the right direction, but it’s not quite there yet. I think Linspire’s Click-And-Run is a good example of how it could be done, including the option to buy commercial software directly.

    3. Easy wireless support:

    Ubuntu has okay wireless support already, but only if you’re using weak WEP encryption, which nobody uses anymore. WPA is desperately needed in a just-as-easy way. It must not be required to install and configure additional software packages for that: Consider someone installing from CD and wireless via WPA being his only connection to the Net.


    I think these three points – especially the first one – are really the only things needed to satisfy the common desktop user. Once Linux gets accepted by this group, there will be much more incentive for OEMs to pre-install Linux, and once Linux systems get significant market share (eg. identical to or even more than Apple), it may just become attractive enough as a platform for game developers.

    And once you’ve got games *and* easy multimedia support on Linux, there is no more reason why anyone would want to use Windows.

  22. Venkat Bhamidipati Says:

    I’ve used slackware and Redhat Linux in the past (until 2002). Recently tried Ubuntu and instantly fell in love with it.
    First things first, You guys did an amazing job in making linux so user friendly. Most of the stuff works out of the box and its so easy to use now.
    I currently have a dual boot with Win XP and Ubuntu. I need to wait for few more apps to work (they may be already working but i need to spend some time to get them working for amd64 architechture) before I can convince my wife to completely switch to Linux.
    I’ve no doubt that day is not too far. Untill then, a bunch of thanx for making the difference to the community.

  23. Luca Says:

    Hi Mark, hi everybody
    Just for everyone to know… here in the very small Mentana, near Rome, Italy, we organize every Sunday morning a meeting with 10 – 20 women, usually quite old and not computer-literate, teaching them how to succesfully use Open Source / Linux / Ubuntu at their homes. Everyone is now using Ubuntu to browse the Internet, read e-mail, write letters. It can be done, it works !

    Keep up the good work,

  24. Big Deal of a Big Challenge « The Opinions of a Loud Mouthed Man Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth has been laying out the challenges that we , the community called open, need to overcome to make a ubiquitous desktop of Linux. I first listened to this, or a variation of it, talk at Lugradio Live 2006. It was an inspiring presentation because it crystallised many of the core themes which I have been tackling with Small and Medium sized business owners over the last 10 years. Ive been promoting and discussing free and open source software at every small business expo and meeting I can attend in that time. From the Federation of Small Business to the new Microbiz fairs I have taken the opportunity to just people informed about open source alternatives to the closed and costly lack of choices people feel they have. […]

  25. Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » #8: Govoritye po Russki? Says:

    […] This is one post in a series, describing challenges we need to overcome to make free software ubiquitous on the desktop. […]

  26. Diego Says:

    Hi Mark

    First of all, thank you for your work in Ubuntu, is really incredible all what you are doing, I don’t have too much words for describe it, bu you are a great example of how humanity should be.

    I’m using Ubuntu at home and almost all my family and friends are using now, my father is really happy with it and he was before a Windows user, my brothers and my mother are using as well, so keep up the good work!

  27. stelt Says:

    commenter Joseph, i’m working on such a thing and am open for ideas of cooperation

  28. LoĂŻc d'Anterroches Says:

    I think you should take a close look at the wonderful work done by Nokia with the Maemo platform used in the N770. In fact, I am sure you have already done that ;).

    For interested people:

  29. faded515 Says:

    I was wondering if you have seen the FIC Neo1973 smartphone.

    It’s a mobile phone based on Linux, with almost completly open source.

  30. Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » #6: Sensory immersion Says:

    […] This is one post in a series, describing challenges we need to overcome to make free software ubiquitous on the desktop. […]

  31. Theresa Says:

    I think to conquer the world with FOSS, it’d help a lot if desktop/standalone computers and laptops were shipped with linux.
    Why bother buying a laptop or a computer with a pre-installed windows on it, if it gets removed anyway as soon as i get my hands on it? that would be a waste of money that could be spent somewhere else i think.

    the not-so-advanced computer user will find it hard to remove windows on his/her machine and then choose between all linux distros and then install it on his/her machine.
    Ubuntu should take it to the next level and find an engagement with a computer distributor (worldwide) to offer an alternative to windows.

    Thanks for reading and Thank you Mark for making (K/X/Ed)Ubuntu so enjoyable 🙂

  32. Brightrock Says:

    Adding to Theresa’s comment, I think it would make sense to start by trying to partner with computer manufacturers who are already OBP (off the beaten path) for example those who use AMD processors (the 64 bit technology that Linux supports, but Windows doesn’t, as I understand). Companies like Averatec would probably attract attention (big benefit to them) and some customers (lesser benefit) by selling some computers with just Ubuntu. Probably the biggest concern is support, so if Canonical could provide one year technical support for an end user for the same price the computer manufacturer/reseller pays for a Windows License, then I think three important things happen:

    1. Linux is distributed with a computer.
    2. The Computer maker can support Linux for the same cost as Windows.
    3. The end user actually has software related support for 1 year. What an idea–actual support for software!

    Selling a package like this to a Grandma is also feasible (if the support it good enough) since grandma is going to value the ability to call someone to help her with her new computer if she get’s stuck. And you’ve theoretically beaten Windows in terms of customer service, as anyone who’s ever looked into getting technical support from Microsoft knows.

    The major obstacles are still going to be hardware and driver related. The current banes of my Ubuntu operating system are:

    1. Fonts and printing. I have a small publishing business and I love using OS software, but the sad thing is that it works better in Windows than in Ubuntu–due to printer support, and font issues mainly.
    2. Firefox crashes the system (especially if I do something with digital photos or try to use Open Office) right now. I need to try a Firefox reinstall, but the quirkiness reminds me of older versions of Windows. I know Ubuntu is young, and I love using it anyhow, but at least for me the “just works” hasn’t quite made it.
    3. Here’s a bigE. The flash driver, or whatever it is that is causing all online videos to be out of sync. I can impress my friends with Beryl, but as soon as I want to show them a video online Ubuntu doesn’t look like it “just works.”

    But back to Grandma, I think Ubuntu is ready for wide use by Grandmas who surf the web and use email (especially if the flash video problem is fixed) but the main obstacle is that grandmas ask their computer savy grandkids what to get, and until you make a system that enthralls and just works for the grandkids, you won’t get the grandmas. Things like beryl combined with “just works” will make it happen. But but going back to Theresa’s point, unless it ships with a computer, Grandma is going to have windows, because only the most evangelical linux grandkid is going to try to get his Grandma to use a system with GRUB and two operating systems on it, or scrub the default Windows install, and be responsible for an “almost just works” linux system.

    That said, thanks for the great operating system and for providing an alternative. Every industry get’s stagnant and lazy if there’s no where else to go. Ubuntu is making the world better, and I appreciate it!

  33. Dustin Harriman Says:

    If you would like to see some seriously audacious goals for Ubuntu Linux, please read this, where I’ve pointed out an important, hugely overlooked direction Linux must go to move ahead of Microsoft on the large corporation:

    “The Linux desktop is convenient, now we need convenient Unix network services”–?cq=1&p=41

    In a nutshell:

    When a user plugs in their digital camera in Ubuntu Linux, relevant software automatically starts up like G-Photo. It offers to help out: “Would you like to import your photos into a photo album?” Why yes, that’s almost certainly why the user plugged in his camera! Great! Now, I badly want to see this trend of asking the user the right questions at the right time to help them do the right thing extended from the desktop to all the common network services found on the LAN. For example, if I plugged in my Linux laptop at my friend’s house, I want to see a dialog pop up, asking “Hey, I notice there is a network printer close by. Click over here for more particulars. Or, I can just add this printer for you, click here. Would you like to print a test page now? Would you like me to make it the default printer?” These are the questions a user wants to be asked.

  34. Dustin Harriman Says:

    Hmm, that URL (see above) to the article “The Linux desktop is convenient, now we need convenient Unix network services” didn’t get saved correctly (two short dashes got joined into a longer dash), here’s another way to find the article: the article is quite new in my blog.

  35. » Mark的文章 Says:

    […] […]

  36. Charles McCreary Says:

    Markus Wolff (above comment) has summarized three barriers (or hurdles) to adoption. But there is a fourth that trumps them all. Although I’ve found Ubuntu Breezy/Dapper/Edgy to be the best overall distribution for my and my families needs, people need a compelling reason to step out of a well-worn rut. As any salesman will attest, a displacement sale (replace A with B) is very difficult unless you can offer a compelling reason.

    What are the compelling reasons for an average computer user to switch from Windows XP to a Linux desktop?

    Stability – I have found most home user’s computers to be rather unstable due to poor security practices (viruses, trojans, etc.). Point goes to Linux.

    Multimedia support – See Mr. Wolff’s comment above. The difficulty in playing MP3 files, DVDs (forget about HDVD!), and other multimedia content due to copyrights, DMCA, or whatever is a very real barrier. Point goes to Windows

    Cost – Rarely an issue. To the average user, there is little or no distinction between an OS and the hardware. Their computer comes preloaded and only when something goes terribly wrong will they consider re-loading Windows or trying something else. Usually they go out and buy another and they give me their “broken” computer. I then load Ubuntu and give it to a charitable organization. Until there is choice in pre-loaded OS (say Windows, OS/X or Leopard, or any Linux flavor), there will not even be an awareness of the options. Point goes to Linux.

    Drivers – No discussion necessary. Point goes to Windows.

    Freedom – A big deal for me but meaningless to the masses. Point goes to Linux.

    Applications – Kind of murky. Depends on what you want to do. Is there an equivalent or better OSS/commercial offering for the Linux distro of choice? Point goes to Windows.

    Gotta have it factor – What makes a person really want to change? Although my wife and daughters use Ubuntu on their desktops, Given ~$1300 US, all but one would buy an Apple MacBook. The lone holdout would be my youngest daughter who loves supertux and tuxracer. Go figure. Point goes to Apple.

    The compelling reason may turn out to be DRM. With Apple and Microsoft building DRM into many aspects of the OS, the problems that this is creating for users may tilt the scale in favor of OSS.

  37. cantormath Says:

    I need hardware support


    “Thank you very much for the gift of Ubuntu.”

    (From an educator.)

  39. » Blog Archive » Shuttleworth: Challenges for Free Software Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth lists and explains some challenges free software has to face before successfully taking over the desktop. Since Mark does not have them all listed in one page, I collected the links here: […]

  40. Simon Hough Says:

    I feel one of the challenges to the open source community is quick and common access to the functionality of a given application, once that is established I feel that
    the open source front will be really on its way to the masses.. Its very clear that the quality is there and the pioneering visions, just a common framework needs
    to be established..

    By the way, Ubuntu is an excellent distribution, have been in the Linux field since Red Hat 4, Ubuntu made me switch 100% to Open Source, very nice distro..

  41. Brian Taylor Says:

    i need to do my job. My primary function is that of a graphic artist – i use Apple computers primarily because of it’s status and it’s software compatibility. I can’t work on a machine using Ubuntu, so won’t use it until i can. i have experience with it because of my hobbyist effort at keeping older machines alive, not giving in to the fact that these machines are so readily disposal. Ubuntu has breathed usability into many of my older machines (Powerbook G3’s, Daystar desktops, etc.) that finally had new technology catch up with them. I love the way Ubuntu looks, i love it’s open source stance, but as a sort or ‘tinkering pro-sumer” sort, i’ve found it to not last through a few hours of my business day before i have run out of tasks that i can complete on that machine. I always move on to my OS X machine.

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