If you don't know yet, I am employed in a company that is a major Microsoft client. Almost all systems there run some kind of Windows operating system exception for a few firewall machines that run Linux and a few other main servers running Unix. Oh! And a Google Search Appliance! Most of my colleagues don't know anything about any other operating system besides Windows. Well... two years after I joined this company, they sure know more than they did. Not only because I like to show Linux and publicize it whenever I get an opportunity, but also because of all the new "cool desktop effects" and Ubuntu Linux.
Ubuntu Linux and all it's "user friendliness" is becoming somewhat popular. Some install it just because they can, some because they want to see the "cool desktop effects" with their own eyes, and some really want to know about this "alternative" operating system and what can be done with it. One of this persons is my boss.
My boss has recently come to me for some advice about a Linux distribution that he could try on an old Compaq Armada 500. I suggested Ubuntu and Xubuntu for simplicity of use and configuration and Damn Small Linux as an experiment as I never tried it myself :). He chose Ubuntu alternate release for machines with less than 256MB RAM.
After installing it with no problem whatsoever, he came to me again for some help on setting up a PPP connection through a GSM modem for wireless Internet access, something I had never done before. Even thou I helped him a bit, explaining a few Linux commands, files and functionality, he done the most part by himself which made me happy at the end of the day. But, and a big but here, he could not have done this without "google" help. Most part of the configuration was made using tutorials compiled and available in specialized forums. It was not as easy as Windows for sure.
Ubuntu came a long way and is now an easy to use Linux based operating system. It is easier to use than Windows or even Mac OS X on some aspects but Windows still wins on other levels. This can be particularly hurtful if the new users come across problems when trying to use features they need for every day use of the computer and that they take for granted. In this case, we are talking about setting up a PPP connection through a GSM modem for wireless Internet access which I would classify as an every day usage of a laptop. My boss has very little experience with Linux and he is far from what I would call a computer geek, but he definitely isn't a common user either. He likes a challenge and likes to learn about what he is doing with the computer. The common user just wants to fire up his browser and start surfing the web.