Linux distributions could use a boost in a few different areas, specifically these five: Virtualization, Graphics, Games, Point-of-Sale and Education. Some significant progress has been made in the past year or so in virtualization and graphics but there's still more to do. Everyone has their own set of ideals for Linux development but if effort is focused in each of these areas, we'll see much more mainstream adoption of Linux-based technologies.
1. Virtualization - Linux is currently the platform of choice when it comes to virtualization. VMware's ESX and Citrix XenServer are synonymous with enterprise virtualization. However, now that Microsoft's Hyper-V is on the loose, free of charge and able to virtualize almost any Linux distribution; that could rapidly change.
What's needed: Fully developed virtualization solutions that are free and include enterprise-capable management tools. Offering a free platform with shabby tools won't cut it up against Microsoft's Hyper-V product.
2. Graphics - Linux needs wider support for leading graphics cards. Yes, it's much better than it used to be in this area but how many of you have bought a hot new graphics card to find out that there are no Linux drivers for it or that they are beta and not ready for heavy production work. This drives early technology adopters to stick with Windows and to never seriously look at Linux for high-end graphics applications and work.
What's needed: Manufacturer Linux support that's equivalent to that shown to Microsoft's operating systems.
3. Games - If you convert the gaming world to Linux, Windows might cease to be the world's dominant desktop operating system. Ask what most people do with their computers and they'll tell you the following: Internet surfing, word processing, email and games. The order varies from person to person but the list always includes all four of those activities.
What's needed: Developers and gaming companies interested in using Linux as a base platform on the server and workstation alike. Where gamers go, others follow.
4. Point-of-Sale - Don't laugh--Point-of-Sale (POS) systems are used in almost every business that you can name from retail stores, restaurants, bus stations, bars and coffee shops. If Linux were an alternative to Windows-based POS systems or those weird little proprietary systems that lock-in their customers to very expensive support, then you'd have a whole new world of higher business profits and possibly lower costs when you step up to pay your bills at those POS systems.
What's needed: Development of a generic Linux-based POS system that's easily configurable for any business.
5. Education - I've said it many times before that, if you want to convert any population to your way of thought, you have to start with children. Children are inquisitive, intelligent, resilient, innovative and willing to learn. What they learn is up to us. How they learn it is also up to us. If they learn on Linux, they'll adopt Linux as their own and the same can be said of Windows. Whatever they learn first is that with which they'll become familiar.
What's needed: A comprehensive education suite and education-optimized Linux distribution.
There you have my five ways to fix what ain't broke with Linux. If it isn't broken, why should it need to be fixed? The answer is simple: Adoption. Think of how many lives these five areas will touch if they were converted to Linux or if Linux were a real possibility as a choice for them.
Right now the choice isn't clear. Microsoft and Apple aren't resting on their laurels waiting for a sign from above to say, "Hey, maybe we should do something in this area," they're doing it. As a community, Linux developers and adopters can't afford to accept second rate applications and solutions--we need to set the bar, not have it set for us.
If you know of strong alternatives in the areas I've listed, please write back and let us know about them.