For a long time, I lived in my cave, doing my thing. One day, I got out of my nice, very functional cave and saw that my fellow man had built a house just outside. It had all the same functions that my cave had but was much comfortable and livable (for one, you didn't have to push a boulder to close the door every night).
Many years later, I got Linux installed on my personal computer, doing my thing. One day, surfing the net, I saw my fellow man programming a new version of Linux, which had a great user interface, was easy to install and possessed much more new added features. For a long time user of Linux on an i386 like me all Linux was good for was routing packets. This was a shock.
Of course, the new user interface I am talking about is called the KDE project, which along with the new Red Hat distribution version 5.0, the very active www.linux.org site and the many applications available form an incredible package. To my great astonishment, Linux development is in full acceleration and is starting to be viewed as a real contender to Microsoft Windows NT. Not too long ago, people installing Linux on a computer where viewed as computer gurus, or mystic "roots". With the arrival of user friendliness, the question I ask myself is: Is Linux going to become an operating system for the general public?
Some people will feel bad of loosing the respect of being the only ones able to install Linux in their social group. As opposed to them, I welcome this new age. I can't wait to install Linux at my grandma's place. The operating system of the people will finally come back to the people.
This will, however change many things. If less technically inclined people jump on the Linux wagon, new demands will be generated for easier-to-use software and better support and help files. My grandma will ask for drag-and-drop support and very large fonts. The new people on the wagon will not be of much help in moving it forward (have you ever seen your grandma code lately?). Still, they will bring new respect to the OS, and, well, why not, perhaps new ideas.
Some time ago, word from "Santa Cruz" was that we had to upgrade out of Linux. This of course was funny and it highlighted the maturity of Linux. Not only that Linux is free but it compares better (on my scorecard) to almost any other operating system. And unlike some "other" operating system, Linux is soon to become a general public operating system (hello grandma!).
So, I finally decided I was going to move out of my cave and into I much more respectable house. But the most important thing of it all, I must start keeping track of the developments and start pushing the wagon myself. By the way, Linux makes a great Christmas gift!