Yes, The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg is an influential guy. He can make-or-break products with his columns and product reviews. And he has taken a look at Ubuntu. Before you slam Walt for pointing out Ubuntu’s potential weak points, I think the Ubuntu community has to take a deep breath and admit the Walt has some valid points.
Predictably, Walt mentions some compatibility issues with Apple and consumer devices. The open source community may find work-arounds for those issues, but let’s be real folks: Everyday consumers don’t have the time, expertise or interest to get under the hood of an operating system.
But look at the bright side: Walt reviewed Ubuntu because mainstream interest in Linux — particularly desktop Linux — is rising swiftly. Walt wouldn’t have given Ubuntu a look if Wall Street Journal readers weren’t curious and seeking alternatives to Windows. We’re making progress as a community. But we have to be careful as we all set user expectations.
A prime example: My father in law is a PC novice, and he’s tired of bad Windows systems. I cannot, in good conscience, recommend a Windows Vista system to him … not even when Service Pack 1 arrives.
If Ubuntu was a little bit further along, I would certainly recommend a Dell/Ubuntu system to him (or a System76 or ZaReason… you get the idea). But he lives in Florida and I’m in New York, which means I can’t run over to his place if he has questions as he gets up to speed with Ubuntu. So in this case, I’d recommend an iMac because plenty of folks in his community are familiar with Apple’s hardware and Mac OS.
The upshot? I agree with Mossberg on many points. It’s still a little early for true novices to get started with Ubuntu. But for more experienced — and frustrated — Windows users who don’t mind navigating their way through PC settings, it’s safe to make the Ubuntu move.