I’m surprised I hadn’t heard more about this news before I found this encouraging CNET article via Librarian’s Happen. Apparently, Adobe is moving into open source software development and marketing. They won’t specify exactly what their plans are, but the fact that they are hiring a Director of Linux Market Development and a computer scientist to run Adobe’s future open source projects looks very promising. Hopefully, this will be the start of a movement of software companies and hardware manufacturers to recognizing the importance of Linux. And hopefully soon, hardware and software compatibility will no longer be a problem for Linux users.

The biggest barrier to using Linux, in my opinion, is the fact that so many software and hardware products are not Linux-compatible. These companies are completely ignoring a growing portion of the computer-using population – and a very tech-savvy part of the population at that. When my husband has to buy a new wireless card for his laptop, he has to do a tremendous amount of online research to see which models other Linux users have had success with. Even then, it takes hours and hours of cajoling to get it to work. With programs like Macromedia’s Dreamweaver or Intuit’s Quickbooks, there are no Linux-compatible versions as of yet. My husband has to run them on VMware (which allows him to run Windows inside a Linux machine or vice versa), which is slow and inconvenient. It is one of the only reasons we still have one Windows machine at home.

As Linux distributions become easier for everyone to install and maintain, Linux is going to come already loaded on more and more PCs and will be used in more and more homes. Right now, perhaps, it is easy for manufacturers to ignore Linux users. However, this will not be the case for long, and the companies that already have Linux-compatible hardware and software products will be the first to reap the benefits in this growing market.