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Comment I made in a discussion comparing Windows to Linux.  Anyone who follows me knows I don't have a lot of nice things to say about the direction Microsoft is taking these days, nonetheless I think we need to face reality, which is that community-driven Linux OS's have never been especially practical for most users:

Sorry, but until Linux people stop putting in 10x the effort to get the same thing the Windows people get out of the box, no dice.  I like Linux, or rather the underlying kernel, but I've yet to see even the most hardcore user of anything other than a few consumer-friendly Linux-based OS's like Android and Chrome not have to resort to pseudo-emulators, community-built drivers, and an odd assortment of codes and commands culled from Linux forums just to get the same functionality they'd get from Windows.  Hardcore Linux community people are as prone to live in their own Reality Distortion Field as any Apple fanboi.  I just got tired of it, or the constant excuses for how that's not even worse than the issues a Windows user faces.
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Most users? I have never been a fan of most users. 

What specific uses are you referring to? Linux is pretty lame in a few areas like financial software. But for most people, the computer is for email and youtube. Ubuntu is capable for most people. 
+Blaise Mibeck I'd generally agree, now, and assuming they never run into an unsupported piece of hardware or anything.  Let's say they're getting close, but the last time I experimented getting by on Linux last year, I immediately hit issues with getting my TV Tuner Card supported.  My PC is my TV so that is absolutely unacceptable.  The more I move to the Cloud the more i can see Linux serving all my needs without a major hassle, but then why not just go with Android or Chrome if I'm just living on the web and in the cloud?  They're Linux-based, so I'm still supporting Linux.
In a nutshell for Linux to see good adoption it is going to have to come in a prepackaged solution just like you get from an Android tablet or phone or a chromebook
Having experimented with Linux, I completely respect the hobbyist label and also am TIRED of hearing how Linux is ANY kind of solution for those who use Windows and Apple OS. 99% of users of technology, even the very intelligent, don't want to compile to make things work or fix problems.
I use Ubuntu on a daily basis in VirtualBox, although it is as slow as watching paint dry. But I have to turn to my MacBook Pro to get things done in terms of photo editing and FaceTime (most of my family use iPhones, while I'm the odd one using Android.). (Yeah, I do use Gimp occasionally, but it doen't measure up. Period).
I think computing will go 2 ways the dead simple computers, tablets phones and chromebooks, and then advanced desktops, which will mostly be *nix based. Windows will be left on terminal servers for legacy apps. 
+Eli Fennell  Have you seen Raspberry Pi? :)

I have always been more likely to get technical support from opensource projects.
+Brendan Howard I respect the hobbyist label too.  It's like someone who spends time souping up motorcycles.  But you don't see motorcycle hobbyists pretending everyone who buys a motorcycle should be as hardcore about it as they are.  "Just use Linux" is such a tired old cliche thrown about by the hardcores to people having Mac or Windows issues, then they act like you're stupid when you point out the inherent issues and difficulties of their solution.  My fascination with digging into the guts of Linux ended because I just couldn't get it to do everything I needed it to without hassles, workarounds, and community support.
+Blaise Mibeck The Raspberry Pi does look cool, I'll give you that, but I've got a killer custom-built PC right now with a TV tuner and I'm not looking for a new PC.  I'll keep it in mind, though, when I do.  I'm sure by then I'll have way too many options to choose from.
I agree totally with +Eli Fennell original post. Most users will not find linux useful. But in a way this is closer to the original culture of computers. Most people despite being surrounded by computer hardware actually use computers to, you know, compute stuff. : ]
The future is putting tvs and computers together. I think that Google is the farthest ahead that is actually going for it. Microsoft can be in the lead they have the right pieces of the puzzle but until apple pushes for it Microsoft won't. 
+Chris Hoeller Exactly.  The hobbyists should be happy.  Someone figured out how to make Linux mainstream, so now the hobbyists should never have to worry about declining interest in Linux development, they can keep on customizing to hell and compiling all they want.  I get why it's fun, same reason I love building a custom PC, but I sure wouldn't tell everyone to do that.
The Linux vs. Windows vs. Mac issue is so 19hundred and something. Back in the day when one would need a knowledgeable family member to connect a simple mouse I could understand the discussion. 
These days the users want something that just works. I'm a programmer (albeit retired) and I love Linux. But unless I were doing programming or sysadm work or writing OpenDoc stuff or using it as a firewall, there's not much that Linux can do for me. Computing is supposed to assist people, not obstruct them.
I use Linux on every device I own. Android, Chromebook and two computers with +elementary. Have you ever tried this distro +Eli Fennell? Although it's in beta, it's stable enough to have it on my working machines.   
+Ricardo Almeida I stopped fiddling around much with Linux distros last year.  Still have some on Virtual Machines, use them when i'm not confident about Windows security on the web, but for me, I just want to enjoy my OS.  Customizability is great, but not at the expense of knowing it will just work as I need it to.
Give it a shot! It's actually a very decent distro :)
+Ricardo Almeida I've heard others say that.  I'll play with it a bit, see what I think, but for now I'm largely content to support Linux through its more mainstream children.
Google could provide a simple, user-friendly front for the OS and allow for the developers to create apps / features from the back end. 
Fair enough +Eli Fennell I would prefer to have a Chromebox but I can't find one with a decent price. Looking at Ebay, living in Canada. 
+Ricardo Almeida It's all Linux as long it has a Linux kernel, right?  I mean, I always thought that was the point, not just to be all "GNU is GOD!"  LOL  It's about the core kernel and how that kernel commoditizes the operating system.
What Linux needs, in order to be mainstream, is to be invisible. Corporation-backed distros like Ubuntu, Android, and ChromeOS are. An OS should just be there, enabling applications to run, without getting in the way. If you need to (re)configure some OS setting every time you run an application, the OS is not invisible.

Corner cases are present for Ubuntu, as well as Windows and OSX (remember when you need to set compatibility settings for running some legacy apps on Windows?)

Also, it bothers me, when if something does not work, I just have a checkbox (that might not work, and I can't see the underlying problem). On Linux, I am comfortable in the knowledge that I can go as deeper into the system as I am comfortable, before calling 'support'.
I support an office where our administrative side is Windows 7 under AD and our operational systems are Linux (RHEL and CentOS). The honest truth is if we had to choose one over the would be Linux due to operational needs. This is especially true as office apps continue to move toward the cloud and SaaS making the OS irrelevant for most purposes.

I like both Windows and Linux and I have found each requires the same level of support. In my opinion, as long as Linux came pre-installed on most PC's "normal" people wouldn't have any more issues than they currently have with Windows. 
The biggest problem with the Linex based operating system is, no one is in control of it. So there is no direction. Even though there are many people that hate Microsoft, they use it for one good reason, they know what to expect. They know there will be a new version that will follow. So Microsoft is committed to their success, and the users have to pay for it. I'm sure Linex could have been just as successful if some organisation had taken control of it a long time ago. That does not mean that could still happen, but will it??? 
+Bryan Ruby Oh, but that would mean letting OEM's install bloatware.  And we can't have that, because making money on software is evil, remember?  Unless the magic money faeries throw cash at you.
Don't overlook the fact that Linux is a huge success in terms of imbedded software. Last time I flew Lufthansa the inflight entertainment was Linux driven (clearly visible when they had to reboot the system!).

Linux is everywhere, just not visibly so.
+Ben Liebrand Look at Google and Red Hat.  Took Linux (one the kernel, one the whole concept of a community-driven GNU Linux distro) and made it mainstream in their respective areas (consumers and servers).  It can be done, and there is still room for hobbyist distros, but you don't see the same outrage with the Android ROMing community about Google making money off Android or not making it GNU Open Source.  Yeah, you see some of that, but it's like Facebookers bitching about some new privacy change, it almost never matters in the end.  They know who butters their bread, even if they choose to butter it a bit differently.
+Malte Christensen Absolutely, but until Android, Linux dominated every sector of computing except the consumer market.  But that matters.  The military and intelligence agencies of the U.S. are going with Android because it's a consumer success, so they can carry them and both blend in and use their favorite apps while still enjoying the security of an open source OS.
I'm a Linux user since 2006 and an aspiring digital artist. The programs I use on my Linux machine are GIMP, Inkscape, Blender, myPaint (soon after I get a Wacom tablet), pHatch (for batch image processing) and others. A lot of people ask me- "Why don't you use Windows/Photoshop/other?". The answer is simple- "It works at least for me". It won't work for others if they're not used to it.

This is not the first time I've come across a "Hey if Windows and Mac just work, why can't Linux". They both come preinstalled on machines so they should "just work". I wanted my father to use Linux so we got him one which had hardware that Linux supported out of the box. Today, it runs Linux flawlessly.
+Eli Fennell I'm not disagreeing with you. I still feel Linex would have a great chance if some organization REALLY took control of it, even if end-users had to pay a little premium for it. That way users would have another good choice, with many recognized applications. Users don't have anyone to turn to, and have to rely on the open source market. 
How if Google takes over Canonical? They'll have Ubuntu for themselves and link it with Android. Even ChromeOS uses stuff from Ubuntu.
As an everyday, daily driver Linux user.... Hehehe....

Linux has the same problem Windows Phone has... Not enough market share for people (companies) to give a shit (read, develop for)... No Photoshop, Quicken, etc. Mainstream stuff... Without those apps, no mainstream users, without mainstream users, none of those apps get built, or, more importantly hardware drivers, catch 22... In this sense MS may be better off in that they can (are) paying people to develop for their platform... How much you think it will take to get Adobe to do a Linux Photoshop? Intuit to do Quicken?
The equalizer for Linux is the cloud, when everything runs on the cloud and you just need a browser, regardless of OS, Linux can take off, but if that's the case it will probably be in the form of ChromeOS... 
For a fair comparison you would have to buy a PC with Linux preinstalled from a vendor which supports it, the way most nontechnical users buy their PCs.

However, Linux on a desktop is more of a competitoir for kind of Unix workstations which used to be sold by SUN, SGI, DEC, HP etc.
Don't forget that ever time you scrap a Windows PC you also have to buy a new license with your next PC. With Linux you just reinstall your old copy. This is how Microsoft got the industry by the short and curly.
Gimp... Inkscape... Blender... LAMP... Audacity... 

Ok, Openoffice does kind of suck... 

The only reason we have windows at the moment is for Manga Studios. 
I agree with LAMP, which is what I do on Linux. But I see more and more shops doing C# which de facto means Visual Studio which means Windows. As stated earlier, Gimp doesn't quite measure up to Lightroom and Photoshop. Not in terms of workflow nor in terms of functionality. In my not so humble opinion.

Having said that, if I didn't have a MacBook Pro (fully loaded) I'd never go to Windows. Ever. I'd have to make do with Linux.
I've always felt like this about Linux, +Eli Fennell. And while I am also concerned about Microsoft's new direction, I'm starting to think it's more of a difficult transition period for them as touchscreens and tablets grow than a black-and-white poor choice. Let's see if it pays off in the next 5 years.
I look at it this way +Eli Fennell as long as I have to run a virtual machine to accomplish tasks, the OS is not a viable option for daily use.

Personally, my PC is dual booted with Windows and Linux. 95% of the time I run Windows. Though I do believe with things like Steam finally coming to Linux natively, we should start seeing higher developer support for the distros that work arounds and virtual machines won't be required. Until then though, I will continue to use Windows as my main OS on PCs. That's also why my wife uses the MacBook and not me. Her computer use is the browser and that is it.
I think the condemnation of Win8 is a little premature.  I'm not defending M$ but I was around when Win95 came out.  I remember how drastic a departure it was from Win3.1.  It confused people too. But there were fewer people with computers then and those that did have them weren't hard-coded yet, were a little more ui-flexible, and thus made the transition more easily.  You have to remember that a lot of people (maybe even most) who use computers today have never seen an M$ OS that didn't at least favor Win95.  Today we're inundated with knee-jerk reactions because everybody and their brother has a blog and doesn't mind expressing his opinion whether it is fair or not.  Again, I hope it doesn't sound like I'm defending M$.  As a web developer who has been plying his trade since before Win95 came out I promise you I have as much reason as anyone to hate M$ (f**kin' IE6) but you have to admit, with Win8 they are really trying to do something new - at least for them.  Whether that is a good or bad thing... well, I just think we need to give it a little time before we start condemning it.  They see the transition from desktop/laptop to tablet/phone coming and they've tried to build an OS that at least 'looks' consistent across those multiple platforms.  Does it need tweaks? Oh god yes. But I think we should at least give them credit for trying something new.
+Carlton Madden, I like your comment quite a bit, but I thought we stopped used the term "M$" back in 2004? :)
+Matt DiTrolio hahaha.  Like I said, I've been dealing with Microsoft for a long time.  Some habits die hard. :-)
This entire conversation feels like something from ten years ago.

+Eli Fennell, your problem with the TV tuner wasn't the fault of the Linux community or the distro you tried. You talk about the average consumer, and yet your most specific hang-up was a piece of specialty hardware that isn't found on the vast majority of consumer systems out there.

Want to talk about "just works" out-of-box functionality? Okay: I nuked the OS X install on my older (2008) Macbook Pro. I could have installed Windows on it, but it would have been a pain in the ass to get working-- have to install the driver pack from the OS X disks (though a few would need updating), have to find the EFI patch to get to the Windows boot loader, and so on. Guess what worked right out of the box, the only thing needed being the install disk? Sure, a few of the distros I tried out for nostalgia were pains getting something like the WiFi working (stupid Broadcom chip). However, Ubuntu not only installed like a dream, but everything worked without any input from me. Sure, I was able to go into the display settings and beef up my graphics performance by installing the closed-source drivers, but the fact is that there were already graphics drivers that Ubuntu detected and installed during initial setup that worked.

Installing software was easy as well. Granted, this is because Canonical has assembled its own repositories of stuff out there and built the app store that predates the ones on Mac OS and the new Win OS. Also, because I'm very specific about what I want I can bypass the built-in store and install from repositories of my own choosing. But building from source or requiring command-line knowledge to use the OS-- and at least one of those claims were made in this very comment thread-- are out of date accusations that date back to the 1990's. If you're willing to drop to terminal you can certainly install more powerful software, but only in some cases and if you need such software you probably have some familiarity with the terminal in the first place.

Now, if you want to talk about key areas where there is no support, you kinda have a point. Why Netflix chooses not to provide a supportable solution for Linux desktops and laptops is beyond me, but such a focal service still relying on dead technology (Silverlight) for their web provider is a bad move for reasons not even getting into the discussion over Linux desktops. Meanwhile, a workable solution for those wanting to watch Netflix on Ubuntu (and Debian-based distros) is available and it's easy to install. Google certainly needs to get their asses in gear and make Drive available for Linux, I'll agree there.

There are still things missing from the desktop experience for Linux, but at this point those things that are missing have nothing to do with average, everyday use cases. They have to do with specific software or support from specific hardware vendors. Daily use scenarios for Linux are pretty much equal to that on Windows and Mac OS. Web, email, and even basic document editing. For the basics, Linux is there already, and has been for some time. But let's all be honest: the problem isn't the "just works" issue or the typical average user doing low-end activities. The problem is that the majority of "power users" out there who want Linux to work like Windows, so they don't have to learn a new system.

Pound for pound, Linux is worlds easier than Windows for the power user or admin. If you (the reader) balked at that claim, it's because you likely have very little realization of what's actually happening on your Windows system when you do something. Windows 'power users' are folks who walk through wizards on the OS and tick off checkboxes and make radial selections in lists, expecting a certain outcome. As someone whose professional history includes Windows sysadmin, I'm well aware of how much Windows is not telling the user at any given time, even when running at the highest privilege settings. Yet even in my most mission-critical instances working as a Win admin, you know what served me the best? The command line. Whether rebuilding user databases or repairing the directory after hardware failure corrupted it, those wizards and walk-throughs all proved useless and impotent at actually solving problems. The exe and msi installer files are all just glorified compressed directories and scripts-- just give me the wrapped-up binaries like in Mac OS or let me decompress where I choose like in Linux. The fact that Windows installers ask the user where to install today is thanks to the influence of installing the old school way using tarballs.

Don't take my criticisms to mean that I dislike Windows. I think Win 7 is probably Microsoft's best OS version to date. It gets a lot of the correct things right, and places where it lacks are excusable for the most part. I'm actually not a fan of Ubuntu, but that's because I dislike Unity personally-- from a technical assessment and usability perspective I have to grudgingly admit that it works (and works well despite my feelings). After having to actually do some work to fix the things underneath the pretty to fix Windows, I actually find it more difficult to effect proper changes and fixes on Windows than on Linux-- provided you know what you are trying to change and why. For those who haven't a clue what they're actually trying to change and are more comfortable being guided through the process, then certainly Windows is better at obfuscating the system to the sysadmin and power user. For regular web browsing, email, and instant messaging, however, the whole issue has become a Coke/Pepsi, six-of-one/half-dozen-of-the-other type of discussion.
+John Lieske I mentioned the TV Tuner because that was my hangup, the biggest reason right now to eschew desktop Linux. I wasn't suggesting that would be everyone's problem, but specialist hardware isn't the only hardware that isn't always supported. It's worlds better than it used to be, but I couldn't possibly advise someone to install Linux on their PC if I didn't know all hardware was properly supported. Nor is hardware the only issue. UI's and Settings are not always as intuitive as they could be, even in more mainstream versions. And as you say, there are areas where software support is sorely lacking on the developer side. The gap is closing, sure, but I still could not in good conscience tell an average PC user to try to install Linux on their machine (or justify the surprisingly higher cost of a pre-installed Linux PC) without committing to support them through both the installation and the subsequent learning curve plus any issues that arise. I could probably get any average user to install and learn Linux, but I can't just say "Here ya go, here's Linux, it just works!". Because it doesn't, necessarily, just work, for the several reasons I've enumerated.
I would never say to someone "here's Windows, it just works" either. Same with OS X. All of the things a new user would have to find help on in Linux they would have to find in Windows or OS X. If Windows or Mac OS were so easy, I wouldn't have to say "no" to family asking me to help them figure something out on those systems.
My experience has been, I have stopped "fixing" Windows computers unless they let me put Linux on it... Unless they have a Windows app that they need. 

For those people, all of them that I can remember, I never hear from them again really... 

I know there are short falls, but for people just going to FaceBook and trying to get free music and browse pr0n... Linux it is... 
I stopped fixing computers for anyone. It got to the point where folks would hear what I did for a living (when I was consulting) and think that asking for help on their PC was no big deal. My answer now, even to family, is usually "you probably can't afford it."

Since I know what a pain in the ass Windows and Mac OS can be, I find it a little funny to hear some consider those to "just work". Windows still poorly handles garbage disposal and OS X .plists are getting as bad as registry hives.
+Matt DiTrolio Uhhh... No, no flash, kids play games... also, why purchase more hardware when you can repurpose hardware they already have, and Linux runs well on less resources, makes their current hardware last even longer...
+John Lieske I wish I had your conviction... I always say that, and end up doing it anyways... though I reserve hope that the 'I'm going to format your entire thing and put Linux on it" scares some away... hasn't worked too good yet though, I'm actually surprised by how many people let me do it... 
+John Lieske It just works for the way most people I know use PC's.  Usually I find they have at least one program they need that only works on Windows or maybe Mac.  Might be Office (yeah, with Wine you can sort of get that, if you have an installable copy of a version WINE supports).  Might be iTunes (although, not being an iOS user, I don't know if there's a version of iTunes compatible with Linux).  They don't want to be told to use something else even if there's an alternative, they just want to use what they know.  Most of them are accustomed from a young age to the Windows or Mac UI's (ironically also a bit of a problem for Win 8, although that does retain a somewhat traditional desktop).  Might be one or more games.  And when they come across a program they like on the web, they like to just be able to download it and install it, not try to find some Linux equivalent if there's no version for Linux.  And when they install a new OS on their PC, if they ever do (and most never will, so that rules out a huge chunk whose only option is to buy a more expensive pre-installed Linux PC), they want all of their hardware to just work and not have to search around for open-source drivers and workarounds or go out and buy a new compatible piece of hardware.

This is what I mean when I say they "just work".  Yeah, they've got tons of issues, they actually kind of suck frankly, but people are accustomed to them and have evolved a way of relating to their machines that doesn't always translate to Linux.  And if I think someone doesn't need Windows or Mac because they're only using it to browse the web and maybe view some local files, I tell them to get a Chromebook or install Chromium, because at that point they don't need a full-blown desktop OS so they might as well just skip the middle man and go straight to the browser.  Browsers "just work", again because people are used to them and have habituated to using them.

That is why I say Linux, or rather GNU Linux, doesn't "just work" for an average user, because those who live on the web and maybe view some local files would live easier with a browser-based OS like Chrome, whereas those who need and/or are unwilling to change their habits relating to the OS's they're used to will not find it valuable, and even someone who does love to customize and fiddle with his OS like me can't see the purpose in it because it has no programs I need I can't get another platform (often easier) and since I live primarily on the web the only arguable benefit is security, and I practice safe browsing and use malware protection and other forms of security for that purpose and haven't caught any real malware in years.  So, apart from hobbyists or people who just subjectively "prefer" Linux, I don't see where it fits in the market.  Yes, had history gone somewhat different that might not be the case, people might be habituated to Linux, developers might be focused primarily on Linux.  But as an American driving in Britain will be unaccustomed to driving on the other side of the street and will likely be glad when he gets back to where the roads are "normal" to him), so will many Windows and Mac users be grateful to get back to their own familiar territory.
+Eli Fennell Summary: They'll take the devil they know over the devil they don't... hehehe...
+James Pakele Bingo.  It's the market principle of "safety".  Most people buy products they think are "safe" because they are, as you say, the Devil they know.  Apple and Google might have intuited this when launched their mobile devices: there were, apart from RIM, no real "devils" to know in this market, and within the first few years they have become the "devils we know".  Hence why Windows Phone is doing poorly, despite sharing a brand with an ostensibly "safe" desktop OS.  People know Windows Phone isn't desktop Windows and wouldn't want it to be, and much like Linux it's just a bit too different, and not well-established enough with developers (much like PC users, mobile users want to be able to download an app the second they hear about it, or soon after at any rate, they don't want to wait in limbo wondering if there will ever be a version of that app for their platform)..
Oh, and I should add: until the 90's the Linux community didn't really care much about user-friendliness, and while there are quite a few fairly-user-friendly distros now (though not without their rough edges still), I think they're just too late for widespread consumer adoption.  They'll devour the server market, but not the "I just want a PC that works how I'm used to" crowd.  I'd definitely place better odds on Chrome there, again because people are used to browsers and many live in them.
The only thing I can say to the "just works" thing you describe, +Eli Fennell, is that is simply untrue. People may think it's "just working" for them, but in reality a bunch of pre-configured OEM stuff is going on ahead of time. Take any new system, wipe it completely, and install whichever version of Windows you strongly feel is the best candidate (I usually would say Win 7). See how much "just works" out of the box when the user deals with a bare Windows install. Chances are you would wind up having to got through a ton of hand-holding before they have enough stuff to be comfortable on their own.

It works exactly the same way with Linux, man. I could give someone a preconfigured Ubuntu system and they'll be fine.

As for what you describe of the interface, that's not "just works" at all. That's interface familiarity. And the claim you're making is that Windows or Mac is easier because Windows or Mac is all they know. That's kind of a recursive assertion, man. If someone gets on a Mac and tries to treat it like Windows, they're in for disappointment. The same goes vice versa. However, there was a years-long marketing campaign from Apple about how all of these people were switching from Windows to Mac OS, and to a small degree they were. People were moving from one to the other without the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth. The reason was because they could do the same things they did on one system on the other. For the vast majority of the computer using population, this is also true for distros like Ubuntu nowadays. Sure, just like going Win->Mac or Mac->Win there is a transition of learning to navigate, but after the context is learned the operation is the same.

Sorry, man. I just think you're way wrong here. I'm not saying this as an avid fan of Ubuntu over other OSes either (I actually don't like Ubuntu the best). I've watched people do it. Some because they were flat broke and had little other option, and some because somebody else gave them the PC to use. I was surprised at first to have what I'd consider a basic user ask me if I've "ever used Ubuntu?" in conversation, but by now I've learned to no longer consider "uses Linux" as an automatic qualifier for "is a power user". I may still be surprised if someone came out in conversation and expressed enjoyment of Slackware, but my guess is that Ubuntu is going to be the first distro to make its way into consumer desktops. It seems geared toward the consumer and light productivity, just as Windows 7 and Mac OS are. It's as likely as the other two that it supports a given hardware out of the box, and it's as likely as the other two to work on any given laptop or notebook it's installed on. If the big barrier is that the interface is different, then that would stop people from being able to go between Windows and OS X, which is far from how things currently work. It would mean an iPhone user couldn't switch to Android without pain, and vice versa. That's demonstrably false. So why is this only a barrier when moving from Win or Mac to Linux?
Um, until the 90's there was no Linux community. Linus didn't even begin assembling a Minix derivative until about 1991. As for the GNU kernel, it wasn't finished until later than that.

So, uh... yeah. I guess it's accurate to say the Linux community didn't think of interface until the 90's. But that's because there wasn't something to run the interface on until at least 1991. 
+John Lieske Well, we'll have to agree to disagree, at least on how we define "just works".  I never did buy Apple's version of that, for them it usually means reduction to the absurdly simplistic (Onion Network News nailed it with the "Apple Wheel"; they think everything should have just one button, and they call that "just works", however limiting it may be).  My version is it "just works" because you don't feel like you're stepping from a known territory to one unexplored and unfamiliar in many ways.  Even pioneers, those who travel first to new places, usually don't want to do it again later unless it didn't work out the last time.  The desktop is charted territory and people feel comfortable with it, for now at least, Linux doesn't solve any problems they're desperate to solve (maybe it solves problems for the people who will have to fix the issues they have, but thank God people don't listen to their IT guy; oh, and that's another "just works", i.e. if something goes wrong they can find a Windows repair shop anywhere, and Apple repair guys aren't hard to find either or Apple will do it themselves in many cases, so people know where to go when they do need something fixed, even if they don't have a friend who can do it), or create any new needs not created by the competition.
Apple's "just works" is "just bullshit"... My in-laws (can't say no) got a Mac instead of another Windows machine... to "replace" the Windows machine she was using... now she has a Windows machine and a Mac... Because the printer they have won't work with the Mac (a big Xerox thing they use for printing blueprints and such)... 

Now, I'm not a Mac guy, any calls I get, "uh, I'm not a Mac guy" and my brother in law, who is a Mac guy, gets the calls... Just as many calls, but I don't get them anymore...
+James Pakele Well, Mac, apart from being simplistic to the absurd (it's one thing to be "user friendly", it's another thing to be user friendly at the expense of being useful), is also an OS with a much lower market share than Windows, so hardware makers and developers don't focus on it.  Think about this... Windows 8 already has more apps than the Mac App Store.  Which has been around quite a bit longer.  This is also the risk iOS faces if Android climbs to 80, 90, 95% of the market share, but iOS has a "high value client" advantage that should keep them alive a bit longer even then.  And while Linux and Apple fans are equally enthusiastic, Apple has more of them who are more willing to shell out cash.  Linux fans, to their credit, do a lot more to contribute to the development of the platform, but right now they're largely building for each other.
+Eli Fennell I feel the way I do because I worked with a guy who thought Windows or Microsoft Something was the answer to everything. A small business needs email? Microsoft Exchange. Small local bank needs a kiosk PC just to log into the e-banking and nothing else? Full Windows PC (Pro edition) with everything turned off anyway. Company needs a basic file server? Full PowerEdge running Windows Server. Even when it came to virtual machines-- Windows Server running Hyper-V. Managed routing and DNS? Windows Server running ISA.

I've heard all the excuses. This config is unsupportable. These tools I have for file recovery won't be able to recover the files. And so on. The reality is that in almost every single case there were better options that had nothing to do with Microsoft products. Not all of the solutions included some form of Linux, but in several cases it absolutely did. But that familiarity you describe in your "just works" definition was the reason this guy could never see beyond "Microsoft Product X" as the solution to any given problem.

Oh, and did I mention this guy was an MCSA, to whom I had explain how DNS works in a WAN to LAN environment? Yeah, industry-grade certs, years of experience, and didn't understand basic DNS routing. People like him are why I'll never bother taking a Microsoft cert test ever in my life.

But I digress. What I'm talking about here and what you're describing in different words isn't simply familiarity, it's fear of change. The problem is that is a recipe for disaster in computing. It's just as much a disaster for the user as it is the sysadmin or the programmer. So, most people may very well be more used to the 15-year-old UI paradigm of Windows. That I'll agree to. But that's not a good enough reason for them to remain that way, and even Microsoft believes this judging by Windows 8.
+John Lieske Okay, it's fear of change.  And I do encourage people to change their habits, and do think more people should use Linux, more developers should support Linux, more hardware makers should ensure compatibility with Linux.  I think Linux should rule the desktop world, with GNU desktop Linux for some uses, Chrome OS or something like it for casual web users and hardcore live-in-the-cloud types like myself, and Android or something like it for mobile, all running on Linux.  Do I think it's going to happen?  Not likely.  Did I convert a few people in my time to Linux who've taken to it harder than I ever did?  You bet.  Will that change anything?  Probably not in the grand scheme, but it does help keep Linux adoption alive just as do the non-GNU OS's some have built on top of it.  Can GNU Linux win the desktop war?  Maybe, but only if they focus on making sure that one major distro becomes the "consumer favorite" and make sure it has all the polish it needs to make an emotional connection with the user.  Without some pretty huge backers, I'm not sure I see it happening, and the whole "making money on software is evil (unless it's a video game)!" undercurrent in some influential parts of that community, and the extreme abundance of free open source alternative software much of which (GIMP, for example) has better development support for Linux than any other OS, gives very little incentive in that direction for all but philanthropists.
Well, I won't go as far as to say I think Linux should rule the desktop. I'm not loyal to any system, and one of my professional strengths is ambidexterity. I prefer heterogeneous systems. I even like it when I see the underpinnings of operating systems behaving like other OSes sometimes-- it's one of the early reasons I like OS X and why I liked the direction Vista/Win7 took. Ideal multi-user systems to me look like a mix of various hardware/software with user access given on an as-needed basis instead of giving universal access and then trying to lock down after the fact.

By my ideals would be understandably shocking to many. It bucks the trend of IT-related specializations that have developed over the past 20 years, where skills are tied to this OS or that one, to this company's version of directory services over that one, of this hardware over an alternative. Those ideals obviously influence my ability to adopt something unfamiliar quickly.
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