NewsForge: The State of Linux at the Retail Store
Aug 04, 2003, 22:00 (11 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by James Hutton)
"I work in a small retail electronics store that has been
selling cheap Linux PCs for the last 8 months or so. It was an
experiment that returned mediocre results. The hardware wasn't a
problem--it was cheap but solid hardware, and exactly what a lot of
people wanted for basic word processing, email, etc. Even the fact
that it wasn't running Windows wasn't a problem, people are
prepared to overlook that if it's going to do what you want. The
problem was that it was running an open source operating
The 'it's free as in free speech, rather than free as in beer'
has been an oft-quoted example of what free software is all about.
Unfortunately, when talking to people off the street, this is a
very hard idea to get across. Most people have not heard of Linux.
In an age of commercialisation in almost every sector of society,
mostly relying on word-of-mouth and consumer interest has given
Linux a low profile to the average consumer. They are confronted
with a 'free' operating system for the first time, and their first
interpretation of 'free' is 'free as in this is so bad that no one
in their right mind would pay for this crap.' This is not an