Linked by fvillanustre on Fri 6th May 2011 22:19 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y When comparing the evolution in market share of Linux and OpenBSD, two operating systems that were born around the same time, a question comes to mind: why is there such a difference in market penetration? Linux, on one side of the spectrum, with a license that supposedly impairs commercial venues, has enticed companies and organizations to adopt and support it under varying commercial models, while the BSD derivatives (FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD), with a larger history and an allegedly more commercial friendly license haven't been as successful to gather a large installed base and widespread adoption.
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Market Penetration = Ease of Use
by joekiser on Sat 7th May 2011 03:09 UTC
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License has nothing to do with it. Besides the kernel, everything in the UNIX world is using a mesh of GPLv2, GPLv3, LGPL, MIT, BSD licenses. Look at the question from this point of view instead: if you were to word the market penetration question in a manner that compared Linux distributions, the question would be: "Why are some Linux distributions more popular than others despite the license being the same?" First impressions for Windows users count a LOT. It has to do with ease of use, the ease with which one can get to a pretty compiz-enabled desktop.

Imagine being a teenager these days; you have never used a computer with a CRT, every peripheral you have ever seen is USB (and plug and play), you have never had to use a command line, and all you know about an OS is the GUI. You want to try a free OS, and your choices are Ubuntu, Fedora, or one of the BSD's. Which one is going to look sleek and modern, and handhold you through the entire install process? Which one is going to look cryptic like that DOS thing your dad told you that he used waayy back before you were born? And if you can get past the culture shock of making it through the text-based BSD installers, you *still* don't know how to set up a GUI. Guess what, those kids are going to college soon. They are tomorrow's netadmins and developers.

When I was that age in the 90's, the Linux distributions were on par with the BSDs in terms of ease of use. Of course, I knew what partitions were already, I wasn't entirely frightened at a command prompt, and I knew IRQs and other stuff that the A+ exams don't even require anymore. Not saying we were smarter, but that was required learning if you were going to tinker with your computer. Today, not so much. When the initial barrier was equivalent, the BSD's had a speed advantage (negated with 2.6 kernels), a documentation advantage (negated with newbie-friendly forums), and a ports system that surpassed anything in the Linux world.

The *BSD's never became newbie friendly like Linux did. sysinstall is mostly unchanged after a decade. Those distributions that get the user to the desktop quickly and painlessly are the ones that people grow accustomed to using through their college years and as they enter the workforce. They are also the top ranked distributions in terms of use according to most metrics.

License has nothing to do with it.

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