Desktop Linux has come a long way over the last ten years. There are lots of projects and people who have made desktop Linux a viable option for users everywhere. Most notably, the development of Ubuntu has done more for desktop Linux than any other distribution or project.
A lot of the problems that plagued desktop Linux five years ago are solved today. The installation is a lot easier, and hardware support has greatly improved. Usability improvements are obvious, and fundamental applications like web browsing and office suites are on par with the closed alternatives.
While there are lots of areas where desktop Linux has improved greatly, there are a few notable exceptions:
E-mail and Calendaring
The Evolution project looked like it was going to be the great groupware client for Linux, but sadly Novell has pretty much abandoned it over the years, mostly due to their collaboration with Microsoft. There is not a viable alternative to Outlook that runs natively on Linux today. This is a huge barrier to corporate adoption.
Photo and Video Editing
This is the main reason why I had to buy a Mac. You cannot do advanced content creation and use Linux as your primary desktop operating system. There are many basic applications for managing and editing photos, but don’t even try to edit RAW files coming out of a DSLR. There are a few apps that will do it, but nothing close to the sophistication of whats available on OSX and Windows.
Video editing is another glaring support hole for desktop Linux. Sadly, there is no real good solution for this problem. None of the major Linux distributions are going to spend resources developing solutions for content creators. The existing market players like Adobe, don’t have enough fiscal justification for spending money on a Linux port. Sadly, I do not see this situation improving anytime soon.
Once upon a time, Ipods played nicely with Linux, but not anymore. Sadly, this is really an Apple problem. Apple has deliberately obfuscated the Ipod in order to prevent it from playing nice with Open source software. Because Ipods are such a huge part of people’s everyday computing, the integration with Linux needs to be seamless. Unfortunately, Apple is evil.
Smartphones are another issue. People need to be able to synchronize their phone with a Desktop computer without having to be a genius. In the age when everyone owns a device that syncs with their computer, Linux is way behind the times.