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Why Linux Isn't Mainstream

written by: Felix•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 4/14/2009

We know how Linux users are few compared to Windows and Mac users. Why actually? The reason is that because Linux hasn't become mainstream for people to use, and here are a few of the reasons why that's so.

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    Linux is an open source operating system that comes in many different "flavors" or "distributions." Each developer of a distribution decided to take the source code of Linux and customize it to their needs and desires. The result? There are currently over a hundred different distributions of Linux, with the most popular being Ubuntu, Fedora, Solaris, and Red Hat Linux. With so many distributions available, covering every perceivable need, why hasn't Linux become a mainstream operating system choice like Windows and Mac OS? Here are some of the reasons I can think of.

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    User Friendliness, or the Lack of It

    Most distributions of Linux are not designed for a superior desktop experience. This even extends to the way programs are installed. Windows and Mac OS users are familiar with the idea of downloading an application and installing it by clicking a file. Linux itself - without the help of WINE - does not recognize an .exe extension, and this causes a problem.

    Most applications are installed in Linux with the help of a graphical Package Manager. It hides some complexity from the user, but it doesn’t hide the fact that a single, simple application may require that several other “packages” also be downloaded and installed in order for the application to run. This interdependency of applications and complexity is strange to a Windows or Mac user who expects her applications to just install and work all by themselves.

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    Too Much Dependency on the Command Prompt

    This is just a matter of my preference, but if people are saying that Linux uses too many command prompts, I have to agree with them. Linux almost uses a command prompt for everything. To perform a task as the root or super-user, you have to open a command prompt and issue several sudo commands. To install programs from a foreign source (outside the Package Manager and the distribution’s repositories), you have to use get apt and use a certain URL to install another binary (compiled program).

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    Too Network Dependant

    Linux is completely dependent on your network connection—the truth is, you cannot install any program without an Internet connection, because Linux continuously updates packages from its source and downloads certain programs we want from the Internet. Basically, Linux needs to always be connected into the Internet. Without an Internet connection, Linux basically cannot do anything except for word processing.

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    No Developer Support

    The last reason is the most important one. Linux basically has no developer support. Big companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Google have no support for Linux development. Have you ever seen a Windows or Mac program ported to Linux? Only smaller developers - usually freeware - support Linux, and that support usually only applies to certain distros of Linux. This poses quite a problem. With Linux, you basically had no multimedia connection to your saved videos, your music, and your iPod. Especially with Linux virtualization is considered poor.