Linux Hopes and Dreams

november 17, 2008

I was reading a review of the OpenMoko Neo FreeRunner in this month's issue of Linux Journal and I had a realization about Linux.  Outside of the server market where Linux truly shines, Linux is just a bunch of (geeky) hopes and dreams.  In the second paragraph of the review:

I have carried the FreeRunner around with me. It is just such a cool little gadget, and I love what it represents: a completely open mobile device, the hardware and all.

There's the hope.  Here's the reality, from the same review:

Even though the goal is eventually to have a general-purpose, consumer-friendly phone, the FreeRunner is not quite ready for the prime-time phone market just yet.

It's very similar when you talk about Linux on desktops.  Ubuntu makes great strides at making Linux consumer friendly, but Windows and MacOS X have it done better. On the subject of the Neo FreeRunner, $400 is steep for a phone that does not work well as a phone and has only GPRS connectivity.  According to the article, the FreeRunner “is a Linux-based touchscreen smartphone ultimately aimed at general consumer use as well as Linux desktop users and software developers”.  As a general consumer, an iPhone or Nokia Series 60 or Windows Mobile maybe a better choice as they cost about the same and have more features. One could argue that Android-based phones would be an viable consumer oriented open mobile platform.  It can, and I hope. It's not bad to have hopes and dreams, but I think sometimes the Linux bunch (and at one time myself included) are a bit overly enthusiastic (or is it optomistic?) about the state of Linux when it comes to being consumer friendly. What are you thoughts?