If that's the case, the why would "Joe" need Linux in particular? Doesn't like Windows? Mac might suit them better than a "user grade" Linux distribution. Many people here in my town tell me they want to switch to Linux. Many say its because they are sick of windows. I respond by asking them
(a) what do they currently do with the computer
(b) what do they want to do with it that they haven't been doing
(c) why does windows (or whatever) bother them
Very often, the answers are these:
(a) play games, write papers (many of them are undergrad or grad students), browse the web
(b) nothing, except make some fancy web pages maybe
(c) @#$! modem doesn't work if the printer is on and I hold down the ALT key (or some weird thing like that)
In that case I say: there is no need to try Linux because:
(a) windows is better for games. I.E. doesn't work for Linux, and like they really want to learn Emacs (or vi) and LaTeX
(b) Nothing else? Guess gcc and perl ain't much use to you then!
(c) Linux is stable as hell, but doesn't mean that it will make hardware work that doesn't work in windows.
Sometimes however, the answers are more like this:
(a) Browse the web, email, write programs for research
(b) Run a local mail server and web server, script some of my programs so that one model can take the output of another and I can embed the tabulated results directly into my papers
(c) Microsoft Word equation editor sucks.
In which case, its quite clear they have much to gain by spending the time to learn and use Linux. I usually tell people like this (after helping them install Linux dual-boot with their existing Windows), to try what they want to do each day with the computer for exactly 1 hr on Linux before giving up and doing it the way they already know how in Windows. I answer any questions I'm present for. In ALL cases, these people remove windows to recover the hard drive space and use Linux exclusively, after 6 months to a year of this. Is this good? YES! From my point of view anyway, I'm a huge huge Linux and open source advocate. Should then everybody use Linux, well, no, no not everybody. Why? one size fits all is an oxymoron, that's why. Object-oriented programming works really well for things like GUI programming -- the model makes (some) sense. Should we conclude that all things are best programmed with OOP? Fuck no. (Sorry, I hate OOP)
I've helped some people in the former group of people to, but most of the time they don't spend much time using Linux, even after a year of two of having it installed. Why? Because Linux (and Unix based systems) gets its power from things like the bash shell, the development tools, and the simple but consistant interface between the common utilities (ie, stdin, stdout, pipes), which are specialized for specific purposes but easily combined like lego blocks to make more complicated tools, not the one-size-fits-and-does-all-but-oh-wait-not-really philosophy of Windows point and click applications. So, to finally get to my point, if Joe doesn't need to explore the features of bash, perl, gcc, local network services, etc., why does Joe want Linux anyway? Should Linux work both ways? No, I don't really think so... That is to say, I don't think ease of use to the level of windows should be a focus for Linux and open source developers. Progress in that direction is always appreciated, but its the raw power stick-shift of Linux that makes it attractive, at least to me and people like me. Linux is the only OS I've ever used that seems to have functionality as top priority, rather than something more like marketability, which translates into hide complexity and reduce it (ie, drop features) when it cannot be hidden. For people who'd rather drive an automatic most of the time, there is windows and macintosh, and nothing wrong using them, as long as nobody is forcing me (or anyone) to use them.