"I've always wanted to pick from over 500 different Linux systems!" -Said no one in the real consumer world ever.
You are correct about Apple having to support very little hardware which means it's drivers should be (but not always) very stable but that still doesn't explain how they made it easy and Linux is still difficult. I do think that Ubuntu has done a good job in attempting to bring it to the masses but Linux will never take off as a desktop replacement until they can get rid of the geeks that thrive on the geekness of Linux. In other words, the same thing that makes Linux so great is the same thing that will always hold it back from making grounds on the desktop end. Your typical user should never have to open up a terminal to perform everyday tasks such as installing software that isn't in the default 'market/store'.
The other day I was looking up how to stream video from my TV card with VLC player and I found a how-to site with that, but it pertained to Linux. I think to get something special with DirectShow to work, the article stated you needed to patch your kernel before doing this.
Ummm...I'm not a programmer of any kind so having to go patch my kernel just so I can try to get TV content to stream is called, let's see, "Too much damn effort for what it's worth." I can't think of any person I know in the flesh who would take it upon themselves to do that.
And it's diversity is also an issue. Yes, if what you are into is wearing water flippers while dancing at a Star Trek fan group meeting on a pogo stick, I'm sure there is a distro that has been built with you in mind complete with its own methods of installing and using software. Doing a default install of SUSE will give you a stack of different text editors everyone will give you instructions using the editor of their own choice. Emacs vs VI?
Of course you are entitled to your opinion. It serves as a useful guide.
If Cokie doesn't like it - it will almost certainly be great, and vice versa.
Seems to me it is very well done in Ubuntu.
Not many will need to look further than the software centre with one click install.
For those few who may want something not already in the software centre, just download the installer (deb file ) and run it. That isn't any harder than running an installer in Windows.
There is an extra option for the very geeky to add ppas if they wish, for the daily builds from Mozilla and so on - that is when you would use the terminal.
Linux on the other hand is trying to support all different kinds of hardware, on both new and old machines, using many devices that are simply "made for Windows by their manufacturers". Instead of having a pre-set way of doing something, Linux is open. You are provided an often overwhelming amount of choice. With that choice comes a learning curve and a higher amount of knowledge to often get something set up and working. It's certainly not simple for most people. On a positive note, you won't often find an end user who figured out how to start up a web server with a few clicks that is full of holes and is a huge security vulnerability....< but this happens all of the time with other Operating Systems. The Linux guy has to learn a bit along the way and at the end of the day, I argue that it's a better approach.
Personally, most software in Ubuntu, Mint or Fedora can be installed with graphical tools like Synaptic and such. But the fact remains, that for many an admin, doing things at the command line is simply preferred. My Linux servers NEVER run a desktop, EVER. it's simply not needed. Documentation is perfect and it's all cut and paste and can all be scripted. Never in a million years do I want to see Linux instructions which say, "click here, click here, check this, click on Ok, Ok, Ok, finish". When people at work follow my documentation at work, they simply paste the command, hit enter and get it right 100% of the time. This is exactly why you see so much documentation on forums and wikis that use these cryptic commands. they are precise.
And in the event of a system crash or failure, it's a matter of restoring a couple of config files and startup scripts and the box is right back in action. That beats the pants off having to deal with the registry, etc. < But that's my just my opinion. I've been doing Windows and Linux server admin stuff since 1997.
Actually, mentioning 500 distro isn't that far off from reality! Distro watch lists the top 100 and even that huge list doesn't cover all of the minor distros. Many are put together not because there was a need but as a geek experiment that got out of control! You mentioned the ease of restoring a crashed server using Linux. Pretty much the same ease in the windows side as well. Just last week I had the privilege to restore a server due to a botched upgrade with just a few clicks.
Linux on a desktop is a geeks version of a toy but that toy is getting better with time. How many years now have Linux fans been saying that this is their year they will take a huge market share in the desktop?
With that said, we have thought about moving all of our desktops not in Corp to Linux. Ok, the CIO mentioned it after someone joked about it in a meeting. We quickly changed the topic and didn't allow that person to joke about it again! We have too many people in a whole new world of discovery every time they approach these magical TV sets with the typewriter attached to think about trying to teach them the Linux way
It is about commercial reality.
Ubuntu Unity is perfectly fine as a desktop os.
It will never take off unless it gets proper exposure to the public. Joe public goes into pc's r us. If he has the cash - he might get a Mac - if not he gets windows. Ubuntu is not there. Joe has not heard of it and never sees it.
It is not a level playing field.