Insanely Great Linux products

by Kevin Bedell

I'm convinced that what the Linux community needs is its own Steve Jobs.

We need someone who can envision something so insanely great that everyone who sees it will want it. They also need to be able to lead the development team that creates it.

But is Linux ready for insanely great products? I think so. In fact, I'm sure of it.

Some say that Linux is too hard to use - but look at Motorola's new Linux-based phones (PDF link). Look at Tivo. Look at Google, for that matter. All these are based on Linux and none of them are hard to use.

And what about hardware compatibility? Well, if you're building custom hardware, then compatibility's easy.

Think of Jobs' beloved Macintosh -- hardware compatibility was easy since you could only buy the machines from a single vendor (who also happened to write all the software).

So what would an Insanely Great Linux product do? Well, check out the Linux Toys site to get some ideas. Maybe it would be a Music Jukebox or a Home TV Recorder/Player.

Given the advances in embedded Linux development toolkits and all the very small Linux machines that people are selling now, it seems like it would be pretty easy to mass-produce customized, single-purpose devices.

All we need is someone who can look at what's happening today with embedded Linux and see custom hardware and super-cool consumer products.

Steve Jobs did that for the Mac. Who will do it for Linux?


2004-04-07 09:35:37
Your examples...
Tivo, Google, and phones... none of which are client or computer systems in the typical "Desktop" situation. Just an observation.
2004-04-09 21:23:40
There are already insanely great products
Lyx and emacs, for example, are extraordinary products.

The selling is the problem...

2004-04-09 23:37:34
Linux the way it is
Now, I may see Linux a little differently than others and I accept that as opinion. I see Linux as a great OS and community. I love Linux and it's community because of what it is right now. Honestly, Linux makes up about 3% (or a little more) of all computer desktops. With only 3%, we still have this awesome OS and a HUGE cache of Open Source applications.

I feel that Linux does NOT need an Insanely Great product, it is an Insanely Great product. Linux does not need to compete with Windows (I really don't understand the need for that), Linux is of itself. It is not a Windows nor Mac killer, it is an OS for those that wish to use its functionality.

Honestly, I will happily accept that most people need to use Windows because I would really hate to see how Linux will evolve to accomidate the average *Windows* user. Linux is for those the need to use Linux and for those that appreciate an OS and community that provides what the Linux community provides. We don't need a product to make everyone switch over. We need to continue with the inovation and functionality the Linux provides.


2004-04-12 12:28:23
Linux Toys
Kevin, thanks for mentioning our site in your article. I've spent much of the past few years looking for insanely great Linux "projects." To me, the true power of Linux right now is that it gives us a firm foundation to put together the pieces we want.

For those of us who have overcome the Linux learning curve, there really is no going back. Even if you can get a cheap answering machine, TV recorder, arcade game player, and so on, the big advantages of running them in Linux is that they are running in Linux!

You can add your own hardware/software pieces and improve code yourself, if you care to. The content and data you gather can be put on a Web site, automatically sent in an email, or played back in a dozen different aren't just stuck with a black box and limited features.

I don't know if there will ever be a killer app that will cause Linux to take over the desktops of the world. But the pressure building from Linux servers on one hand, and cool embedded Linux devices on the other, is probably making some Windows people begin to feel the walls closing in.

2004-04-13 08:15:36
I agree w/ blaising... why be concerned with stupid market share? When you do, you're playing to MS's strengths. Forget it. Linux kix butt, market share or not. Can't bear to just kill Win? Try Knoppix. What a killer Linux app! Runs from a CD, and so great.