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Up front disclosure: I am very computer literate, and long on Red Hat. Very long on Red Hat, as detailed below.
All of my comments are concerning the home and small business market for Linux.
I have been messing about with Linux for about a year now. I have installed 5.2 and 6.1 with moderate success. I think that Linux is still The Next Big Thing for home operating systems, but I don't think that Linux will be ready for the masses (and vice versa) for years, specifically until such time as Linux becomes easy and accurate in its install process. Admittedly, Microsoft is probably the inferior product to Linux. Windows is generally considered to be marginally stable, requiring occasional reinstall and more frequent reboot than Linux. But, in my opinion, Microsoft still has the lead in accurately and adequately installing the operating system for a user's particular machine. Great strides have been made. The new graphical install from Red Hat 6.1 is much, much better than the text install of 5.2. But there is still a long way to go.
Linux is The Promised Land. Currently, however, getting to The Promised Land is the tricky part. Linux is a superior system that no one will want to use if it is extremely difficult to install and configure such mundane things as sound cards, home LANs, and printers. I am sure that all the techie Linux fans are bristling at the previous, remarking that these things are easy to accomplish. But, consider for a moment, who we want to start buying Red Hat Linux: Joe Sixpack Average User who is not going to want to recompile the kernel just to get his sound card working.
Does anyone want to make a fortune in Linux (ahem, Red Hat)? Here is how: develop an installation app that will adequately, accurately, and easily install Linux for a user's home machine. Much easier written than actually done, I admit. But, it is also the key to making Linux the operating system of choice for personal/small business use, as no one will want to use an inexpensive operating system that you only have to reboot every six months or year if it is extremely difficult to get zip drives and printers up and running.
Plug and play works for Microsoft. Make it work for Linux. I know that there are a wealth of How-Tos available on the net explaining in varying detail how to accomplish most things Linux-wise. But the average user (again, apologies to all the technically Linux literate) is not going to, in all likelihood, want to scour the net to find a How-To, then carry out the often homebrewed instructions ultimately requiring a kernel recompile, when all they have to do is slap a component into the computer and boot up Windows, where chances are it is going to work.
Linux is the Next Big Thing, in my opinion. But, to really bring it to the masses, you have to be able to bring it to the masses. Linux will probably not catch on until someone writes the install app so that even my mother will be able to install Linux on her machine, and use her sound card, printer, and dialup ISP right away. Figure out how to make Linux do that, then figure out how you are going to spend your millions.
As previously mentioned, I am long on Red Hat. It is my sincere hope that Red Hat will be like Dell or Microsoft in that $1000 invested now will be worth millions in a decade. But I am not expecting that sort of return until such time as Joe User can get a CD from Red Hat, complete with the Red Hat Turbo Installer Wizard that will capitalize on this plug and play world. I am very computer literate, and I still can't get Linux to work as easily as I can with Windows.

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