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Why Mark Shuttleworth Is Important to Desktop Linux

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If you want to see desktop Linux finally get some traction with the unwashed public, Mark Shuttleworth is more likely to be the guy who’ll make that happen than anyone who’s come along so far. He’s a capitalist and for better or worse this is a capitalist world. He knows that nothing big is going to get done on this market oriented planet without the art of the deal and some hustle. He also understands something about fit and finish, which was always lacking in desktop Linux until he came along.

For too long, we’ve been sitting around wringing our hands, sometimes proclaiming this to finally be the year of the Linux desktop without doing anything to make it happen and sometimes bemoaning the fact that the world still hasn’t discovered Linux as the secret to computing happiness. The thing is, the world never knows anything about secrets until they’re not secret anymore. We’ve been wanting Linux to just “catch on,” while we’ve been blaming the OEMs for not automatically pushing our home grown geek-centric distros with the same elan they put behind their bread and butter Windows.

Windows is a success not merely because of Ballmer’s bullying. Whether we want to admit it or not, Microsoft has been putting in a lot of work pounding the pavement selling Windows, while none of our desktop distros have been making legitimate marketing efforts where it matters.

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