It wants its headline back:
After years of being relegated to server racks and the desktops of ultrageeks, Linux is finally making some headway as a viable alternative to Windows on the consumer desktop.
Zemlin also sees web-based applications as more than just a path to greater adoption of Linux. Because of the hackability of free software, he explains, those who package Linux are in a unique position to improve their users’ experience out of the box. For example, there’s a free set of scripts for Firefox called Greasemonkey that improves the performance of Google’s web apps. By building those scripts into a default installation, Linux distributions can add a layer of polish to the platform’s basic level of usability.
I’ve spent the last two days in and out of a basement where I had to confront several boxes of pre-bust Linux detritus. Stuff that dates back to when the Linux world’s version of “usability” was providing X Window with a teal background and a penguin-branded start button. Stuff from before Rasterman, or the passage of time needed to make people nostalgic for CDE. From a time when people believed that one false step with XF86Config could explode your very monitor, and when it seemed like the most wonderful kind of magic to make a Soundblaster 16 Plug-N-Play croak “I pronounce Linux … Linux.”
Most people didn’t even think to dream of a day when Linux might have some sort of parity with Windows as a desktop platform. We were all too busy scratching our heads and following some HOWTO about how to force WordPerfect for SCO to run on our Linux machines:
“DO NOT VIOLATE SCO’s COPYRIGHTS! You should get a copy of SCO’s shared libraries and install them in /shlib.”
In the midst of that privation, you know which app we had that Windows had, too?
It’s 2007 and Linux has evolved into a platform to run Firefox, because after eight years of GNOME and KDE, the real answer to usability woes is pre-loaded Greasemonkey scripts to make Google Spreadsheets work better.