Its no secret that open source is a viable alternative to pay for systems such as Vista and OSX; but why has it taken until now for laptop manufactures to start shipping Linux as an option?
Many people like things that are free, no one will complain if you hand them something at no cost to try out unless that's an OS (operating system). Linux has been essentially free from its inception but has failed to take a strong stance in the current market place. One could contribute that to lack of ease when using the OS or the fact that many major players do not support the open source world. What's the cause? The reason? The explanation?
It's pretty simple actually; with hundreds of distributions out there the choice is endless (including Neowin's very own distribution). Consumers as a whole like choices but they don't like a whole lot of choices. Before you repent and say that the more choices the better, it's not quite true. There is a popular business idea that says that there is a rule of three for any market place. It is the essential idea that for good competition you need three strong competitors. This can be seen in many forms; Consoles: Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, Cell phone services: Verizon, Sprint, ATT (Tmobile is quite small in comparison) Domestic car makers GM, Ford, Chrysler. When you look at the operating system landscape there is MS, Apple and Linux but the problem is that Linux isn't defined, it's literally hundreds of choices.
To make Linux a viable alternative to the masses, by masses I mean your parents can use it with ease; some simple but powerful things need to happen. 1. A big name needs to be attached to a distribution. Apple and Microsoft are household names, Ubuntu is not. A name such as Google backing an open source operating system would propel it immediately into the lime light. 2. Ease of use is a major issue. My mother does not want to compile her own sources and thinks a kernel is only good for making popcorn. A simplified install (much like .exe) is needed as a standard for the Linux world. 3. Driver support. A solid backing by all vendors is the next great push in Linux industry. Not only driver availability but instillation is another issue as well.
So what can we do? You can start but trying small installations such as Open Office as a free alternative to MS Office. You don't have to stop there either a simple switch to Google Chrome will also aid in your movement to open source. These are both small steps to a long journey of going completely open source but the best part of it is that it's free.
A massive amount of distro's and a sometimes complex installation process is hampering the massive adoption rate for Linux. If a big name backer will start its own distro or will back an existing one the adoption rate will increase. We can help the cause by supporting open source, the fight is long and will be bloody but it can be won....after all, it won't cost you one penny.