by tjstork (137384)
The great mystery of computing is not that Linux is not in the consumer space, but that Windows is so entrenched in the enterprise space.
Windows is inherently a consumer operating system. It has a developer mythology that the dream Windows development is to make that one product that you can sell and make millions with. It's got a rich set of services developers can use to build consumer products, and it treats a product like a product, a property that can be bought, traded, and rented. You've got a well documented set of graphics and sound APIs, a halfway decent networking stack, and a bunch of tools that are frankly geared towards producing consumer products and these things support a healthy consumer market. Consumers, to some degree, actually like to spend money, so that Windows is non-free actually enhances its perceived value in the consumer space. If you receive something or buy something that doesn't work in Windows, its not something that you try and sort out and fix, its time to move on to another product. Everything is a black box good that you pay for, it either works or it doesn't, and that's what people on the consumer level want.
On the other hand, Linux is a total corporate and government system. It has a developer mythology that "welcome to the basement of megacorp, I've got a jar skittles.. we're both cogs.. here's your cube." Thus, the economic prospect that in the Linux world, your work product is worthless in the market sense, but, your boss gets to use the economic benefit of it over and over again, and, if you can get to keep working on it for a bit, that's pretty interesting and you get a paycheck for it. If you want to get rich with Linux, it won't be by making an application. You'd have to make a consumer black box out of it by hosting a web site using it. But all the development and other tools of Linux have a certain corporate basement feel. Nothing is really a consumer level product, but, everything has all sorts of rich nooks and crannies to do a bunch of different corporate tasks. Consumers don't need to replace social security numbers in a giant database with some new form of proprietary identifier, but Linux developers do, and that's where the strength of Linux tools lie.
Do you really want Linux to be a consumer system anyway? To some extent, that means getting rid of an awful lot that is lovable about Linux. It means polishing out (getting rid of), that barely documented switch to a command where an author left a note saying "uh, this piece of code I put in and got to work for this one thing that I was doing but I'm not really maintaining it", or, to not have that feature at all, or, even worse, have the feature, but not the warning. In any case, there's nothing about Windows that reminds me of the guy in the basement offering some skittles in the basement of the power company, but Linux has that in spades, and I like skittles.
For Linux to be a consumer system, we have to have a world where we take art seriously. That means no copying of images, or songs, worrying about who owns what, and, in a corporate world, all of that is a pain in the rear. If we made Linux into a consumer system and had a consumer culture with it, there's no way you could, from your basement, tell the next bit of bits in your desk to get in line, just like all the other bits. We're all just corporate cogs, hey, here's some skittles.
Me thinks that rather than charging to get consumers to adopt Linux, it should be to drive Windows out of the corporation.