I've been using Linux as a server platform for approaching 10 years - I'm pretty familiar with the layout of the file system, and the tools used to navigate the shell - but only through experience and plenty of trial and error.
It occurred to me during conversation with an acquaintance (and Linux novice) that one of the barriers to familiarity with the operating system is the relatively obscure nature of the important directories, and the location of important files. There is no way to intuit the layout, a user must gain a certain level of expertise through study before they are competent.
This strikes me as an extraordinary oversight, especially as most of the Linux distributors aim to improve the accessibility of their version, and thus gain market share.
Now, before the opponents and proponents of the various operating camps light their torches and mob bulletin boards demanding blood, consider, dear reader, the following...
Modern system administrators have to patch and/or upgrade the software on their systems with alarming frequency - enterprise class businesses have processes and resources to do this in an orderly fashion, testing before deployment, using alternative hardware, et cetera.
Smaller businesses (which make up a notable part of Linux market share) have less resource and higher dependance on single or low units of servers - updating these systems often involves installing newer versions of software alongside live versions on the same machine, and switching between them in order to effect the change.
While there is nothing to prevent users from installing software wherever they please on a Linux server, there is nothing to encourage them to adopt good practice, no intuitive layout and nothing that really makes it easier to manually update/patch their software*.
Have modern requirements for server and desktop systems outgrown the old layout, and do they justify a re-examination of the default filesystem layout?
Here's a simple example of how it could be structured:
If you don't agree with the above, then think up your own, it's just an example.
So here's my final question: Would radically changing, and standardising the filesystem layout improve the usability, make it easier to learn or administer and increase the adoption of Linux systems?
*N.B. We're just talking filesytem layout here, not "Yum", not "Redhat update", not anything similar.