...is that it does not run on every hardware.
No matter, what operating system you use - or more general - whatever piece of software you are using, there are always downsides.
For Linux there are also several downsides but the most annoying downside is that I have to take good care of the hardware I am choosing.
Last weekend I tried a Fedora 10 Live CD on two separate machines and on none of the two I got to a login screen. I could have investigated the issues but then I decided that it would be less problematic to just try to solve the particular problem the user faced with his Vista.
Although I was very annoyed with some flaws (although considered as features in Vista) and although it ended up in a lot of software uninstallation (shipped by the vendor of the notebook) replacing with other components that work better, I am sure that fixing the major hardware issues for the Linux would have been much more trickier.
Further last week I tried to get an iPod nano to work with my Linux at home. As it did not work in an instant I started searching and finally found out that there are some models coming with a particular firmware version that only works in combination with iTunes (refusing to work with GtkPod or comparable applications). I noticed that there are either USB sticks that are not certified to be compatible with Linux. Didn't try one of those but already the fact that it's not written either on the package I am quite sure that the vendor isn't either.
A lot of hardware that is not (well) supported out of the box there are often specific tools and drivers available somewhere (my NVidia graphic board at home was such a case). I can fix this in some cases although not an expert on Linux.
However I cannot assume that users not familiar with computers can fix such issues themselves. Let's assume that a user bought a computer with preinstalled Linux and now buys an iPod or a new cheap photo printer or whatever other hardware piece that promises to be connected via USB and that's it in many cases. And in other cases it comes with a CD containing a double-click setup with a colorful wizard and all done. Yes, it is not always working on Windows anyway but my experience is that the probability is much higher that your new piece of hardware runs without problems under Windows than under Linux.
When the hardware is supported then the system runs in general more stable and more fluently under Linux. But I guess vendors do not want to take the risk and therefore they ship their machines with Windows. If they would put Linux on their machines (if the hardware is supported) the risk is that users bring the computer back angry because their newly bought iPod or Photo printer is not working with it.
Related posts: The good, the bad and the ugly, The operating system, Ubuntu compatible hardware, The Dell Latitude 2110 and Ubuntu 10.04.1.