Linux is “Free” in two senses. In one sense, the Linux consumer is free to modify the system and do anything he or she wishes with it.
“the Linux consumer is free to modify the system”? Are you kidding me? Yes, all the geeks in the world can choose to modify and hack their system at will. Few ever do and the average consumer never will. Maybe that’s the problem with Linux. If you take the time to learn a lot of technical stuff you can get it to the point where it is easy to use.
There are two very popular methods for acquiring and distributing Linux: internet (ftp and torrent) and CD/DVD. Most of the major Linux distributions (openSUSE, Red Hat, Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware) are available for free download from several popular sites.
My mother and my wife don’t want to use their current OS to download another OS ( several hours later ) so that they can then spend countless hours configuring and hacking the new OS to make it as easy to use as their current OS. Until and unless Linux is available pre-installed on a computer that can be bought at the local electronic store only the über-geeks will be able to enjoy Linux.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Linux. I love it for all the things you mentioned in the article. But I am a technical adept computer user who uses Linux every day. I even convinced my wife to use Linux as her sole desktop for almost 6 months. But…I found that I spent more time getting it to work “just right” than actually using it.