Open Ballot: is Linux sexy?

TuxRadar

Our kid Graham has an opinion piece up on TechRadar.com giving various reasons why he thinks Linux is struggling to break into the mainstream. But his third point - and the one that seems to have turned into a flash point for commenters - is that Linux just isn't attractive enough visually. He said:

"The biggest challenge is sexiness. There's very little of it in Linux unless you're an antisocial geek, and products like the Apple's iPad illustrate this massive divide painfully. As Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, puts it, "Linux can compete with the iPad on price, but where's the magic?" Linux has the programmers, the managers, the community, the innovation, the time and the skill. But to succeed in 2010 and the coming decade, what it really needs is a magician or two."

Do you agree? Is Linux sexy enough for mainstream use, or does it still need more work? Perhaps a side issue is whether Linux needs to be sexy at all. Please post your views below for inclusion in our next podcast - don't forget to add a name other than Anonymous Penguin, and don't forget to provide some sort of explanation as to how you came about your answer. Pedants who happily answer that Linux is just a kernel might want to question whether they are indeed the "antisocial geeks" that Graham describes.

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Your comments

Doesn't Matter

Although my main Computer runs Mac OS X with a Linux VM I am one of the few mac users who really doesn't care about looks (I think the command line is beautiful :D), as long as its a functional, useful OS, Windows XP looks like someone melted some crayons on your screen, but is a great OS, with good usability. So no Linux doesn't need to be sexy.

Fedora Desktop

The Fedora 12 and 13 desktops look pretty cool.

Answer: No

But there again, it hasn't got the STIs that Windows has; and neither does it have the strict monogamy of Apple Macs.

However, I've caught X frozen in suspenders more than once.

Linux promoters just don't understand sexy/cool!

You only have to look at the names they give their releases/distros, names like "Hardy Heron", "Lenny" and "Red Hat". They're either cuddly or downright dorky (read embarrassing). The competition call their products names like "Snow Leopard", "Longhorn" and "Vista" (good name, shame about the product). Those names exude power or great scope. We need to shed our love of the dorky and embrace the dark side that is marketing. It may seem crass, but that's what people go for. Less of the Hardy Heron and more of the Dragontooth I say!

It's about taste, search costs

1 - Taste: I came to Linux because I've been increasingly appalled by all the layers of cosmetics of commercial products. It's like with women: They should care about their looks and they should be self-confident but that doesn't mean that they look the better the more money they spend on cosmetics (Win 7)-or are the more appealing the more arrogant (hi, Apple) they are. Others may think Apple looks good and is "tough". Sexy is about tastes. And the proper concept to make Linux saxy is not to make it look like Win or Mac but to change tastes and fashion.

2 To change Linux in order to aline it to the majority opinion of sexiness is agist the core values of Linux and won't work: You'd need to reduce freedom in order to reduce search costs. Wit Linux, you need to know what you find sexy and be willing to invest considerable time for searching. Most poeple, however, are lucky to find structures in place, are hesitant to question the dominant structure, and are lost to enforce any. So, if you want Linux to be more sexy _to_them_, install fines for forking. Use the revenue to install "navigational aids" (aka marketing) saying "we are the third alternative, doing this and that better".But then, this reduces freedom.

3 Can technology really be "sexy"? I doubt. It can be cool, however.

Sexiness, Usability and No Terminal

I think there are 2 basic reasons why Linux, mostly Ubuntu is not accepted by the masses yet, and they are 1st and foremost Usability, and then Sexiness.

1. Only having the experience with Ubuntu I would have to say usability is lacking with the Gnome desktop interface. Mostly requiring a terminal for many basic operations. I find when I need to do a simple task I have to open a Terminal and give instructions via command line, or have to edit a file for something Windows or Apple allows with a simple click of a menu item. It single handedly keeps me out of Ubuntu most of the time, simply put until they leave the early 90's way of doing things, Linux will say in the far background when it comes to the world of the desktop.

2. Given what is available from M$ and Apple as far as sexiness, Gnome does lack (though it has wabaly windows)in that area. Gnome is a bit dated and does look fairly basic. As a guy who has a background in visual media such as animation, graphic design, web, I have to say, Gnome really needs some hardcore graphic guys on the project. Apple has proven that a sexy interface sells.

Once sexed up out of the box and usability is improved, Linux will have a much better chance with wooing soccer mom, uncle bob, the teenage sister and the office personal.

Sexy? yes, just horribly named...

Allow me to explain myself...

Say these out loud to yourself please :)

"Apple"

"Microsoft"

"Oracle"

"Linux"

I think the name in it's self plays a part...

Imagine you knew little or nothing about computers and heard these words mentioned.

Apple = Delicious fruit =~ good feeling
Microsoft = Futuristic software =~ cool feeling
Oracle = Where to look for answers =~ secure feeling
Linux = ?? Penguin ?? uh, duh... =~ confusion
Open Suse = ?? Open What?!?! =~ darkness
Red Hat = ?? Is that a baseball team? =~ misdirection
Ubuntu = ?? I do not!... shut up! =~ fear

We could call it what it really is, GNU/Linux but that's even worse ;)

let's see what happens when we slap some new names on it and change stuff just enough, where people don't recognize it...

"Google Android"

very nice isn't it... sounds cool doesn't it.

There is no confusion-
There is "Google" which we all know...
There is "Android" which is cool sounding but possibly a little dark... but they clear that up nicely with a little green robot and name the releases after desert :)

There we have it... Sexy Linux
They are selling like hot cakes!

Now why didn't I think of that?

With a name like "Linux" it must be good if I've heard of it, lol!

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