Dvorak dissects Linux's evolution

— 2:36 AM on December 23, 2002

PC Magazine's John Dvorak has written a provocative column detailing what he thinks is wrong with Linux's evolution. It's a short but interesting read that's definitely worth a look:

So just as Microsoft has copied Apple's inventions out of necessity, the Linux community copies the inventions of Microsoft out of necessity. This is partly because of the pressure to conform to the dominating standards of look and feel. But also, part of the reason is the Wintel background of the open-source movement. Not everyone in the movement, mind you, just most of the participants. The various user interfaces are compared with Windows. Programs such as GIMP are compared with Windows programs. Though the Linux community does not want to admit this, Linux has become a pale imitation of the evil OS it intends to replace. On some levels, Linux is better, but from most perspectives it is summarized as "not quite as good but a lot cheaper."
Dvorak misses the fact that Linux's open-source nature is far more innovative than any one feature, user interface, or window manager could be. Then again, maybe he's ignoring the innovative nature of the open-source model intentionally. While the ability to fiddle with code appeals to hardcore geeks and users demanding customization, its benefits are likely lost on the vast majority of Linux's potential mainstream users. Those potential users may be left seeing a poor imitation of Windows whose key selling point is price.

Will the majority of mainstream or desktop users ever care that Linux is open-source, or are they just looking for a cheaper version of Windows? Is the Linux community better off trying to recreate the features, look, and feel of Windows and its applications, or would offering something wildly different and potentially revolutionary better serve its cause?

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