At last! Moblin has made Linux look cool!

Moblin looks great - fat chance it'll stay that way

We are living in strange times. The entire economy turns out to have been a great big joke. Parliament appears close to collapse. The US is introducing new standards that could herald the end of gas guzzlers. Somebody or something called Tinchy Stryder has been number one in the charts.

And most bizarrely of all, we're excited about a flavour of Linux.

Moblin may be plain old Linux under the hood, but the Intel-backed project for netbooks has managed to pull off the unthinkable: it's made Linux look cool.

For the first time ever we're scanning the screenshots and watching the videos, and we're thinking "hey, that looks cool! And by cool, we mean totally sweet!"

Don't get us wrong, we don't have anything against Linux. Far from it. But while it's many things, it isn't cool - even the mighty Ubuntu doesn't float our boat.

With most technology, looking into it is like shopping for a new and exciting car. We'll happily spend days scanning brochures, reading reviews and coming up with increasingly imaginative and expensive configurations.

With Linux, though, it's more like shopping for a new central heating boiler. You know it's going to be worthwhile and you know it's going to save you money, but it's hard to summon up much enthusiasm. Oh look. It's a boiler. Oh look. It's another boiler. Oh look. It's a slightly different boiler. Oh look. I've wasted my life.

Good-looking Linux

Moblin, though, is different. It's not a boiler. It's sleek, it's slick, it's almost sexy.

So naturally, somebody's going to bugger it up. Of course they will. It's Linux!

Instead of a single version of Moblin, there's going to be loads, and netbook firms are going to muck around with it, and we're going to end up with the same old confusion that stops Linux from breaking through and becoming the OS your mum, dad and grandparents use.

None of those things have happened yet, which is why the Moblin project should be shut down immediately.

Again and again, we've seen early promise ruined because people don't know when to stop. The Stone Roses should have quit after their first album; Charlie Kaufman after Being John Malkovitch; Quentin Tarantino after Pulp Fiction.

But they kept going, with the inevitable disappointment and diminishing returns.

Moblin could be the OS equivalent of Kurt Cobain, of Bill Hicks, or of Jeff Buckley. All it needs to do is disable the download links, wipe the web pages and shutter the servers.


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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.