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The desktop computing world has been dominated by Microsoft’s Windows family of operating systems for a long time. In North America, Apple’s Mac OS is also popular but nowhere near to the point of dislodging Windows from its position. Popularity of the PC further strengthened Windows since there were no viable alternatives available. Things started to change with the advent of Linux.

Though initially perceived as an operating system for the geeks and nerds, Linux has come a long way. What started as an intimidating system with just a command line has grown into a full blown consumer operating system with a very capable and good looking graphical user interface. Of course its still nowhere near to the Mac OS. Well if Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical, has his way then things look all set to change once more.

Canonical backs the Ubuntu/Kubuntu Linux flavors. These flavors provide the best bet for an alternative to Mac OS and Windows at the present moment. Ubuntu offers an elegant UI, easy management of programs and has made the command line almost redundant for users who are less technically inclined. The number of software available for Linux has grown exponentially as the open source movement gained momentum. 

The main reason that the desktop computing world hasn’t adapted quickly to the Ubuntu versions is because the systems are still not perceived to be user-friendly enough. And rightly so. There are still moments when you would need to go the command line and punch in a few commands. The very thought of doing this is enough to take Ubuntu out of the wishlist of many people.

Mark Shuttleworth wants to change all this, and his target is not Microsoft Windows but Apple Mac OS. The Mac OS has long been regarded as being the end word in user friendliness. All this time the numerous other attempts at bringing Linux to the mainline desktop has concentrated on making it more Windows like. I have always maintained that Linux has to be more compelling to a user than Windows to force a switch in allegiance. So the best bet would be to target the Mac OS rather than Windows.

To realize this, Mark Shuttleworth writes in his blog:

We are hiring designers, user experience champions and interaction design visionaries and challenging them to lead not only Canonical’s distinctive projects but also to participate in GNOME, KDE and other upstream efforts to improve FLOSS usability.

Whether his approach would be good enough to challenge the Mac OS in a span of 2 years is not known. At least he has the right ideas about this.

Our best wishes are with you on this Mark.