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Mathematica and Windows

Here is a frustrated man with a large blog like letter.  I ask that you skim it and give me any relavent feedback.
I am somewhat worried about CAS in the GNU world.  Yes we have some prehistoric dinosour like Maxima that can do a lot of nice stuff and can look pretty too with texmacs.  But Mathematica which has the nastiest license possibly known to man is by many Debian users the only CAS that is considered worthy of pratical use when it comes to many problems. 
I am rather nieve but trying to explore Maxima, Yacas, Axiom etc. the one thing I get from all of these is the lack of a user friendly environment.  The help files for all of these are fine but again their user friendly behavior is no match for  Mathematica.
Again graphing is again on the side of Mathematica (MM).  Presentation is again on the side of MM because texmacs while displaying pretty text cannot do what the integrated software of MM or Maple can do. 
This is not just about MM though.  We are working as a team I suppose.  What is it thousands of people using Debian millions using Linux and even with our strength of numbers we are feable compared to these comercial distrobutions.  This makes me sick- especially with the ammount of time I have spent trying to get my laptop Debian system working. 
I came late to academic maturity and late to academics being 26 and still in an M.S. program in Physics.  I have limited time to advance myself in the academic world.  I am either going to be able to study theoretical physics or study Linux.  Physics is my passion and I cannot spend all my time trying to understand Linux which is what I am doing day in and day out in order to do the same thing I could do via Windows and other propriatary software like MM, with little work.  There is a breaking point and I think I am moving closer and closer to it.
So before I do anything I may regret I thought I should ask those who I feal closest to me in many ways:
1. Is there no GNU CAS that even comes close to Mathematica?
2. Why are programmers not working together on projects?  I mean there is gnuplot, pplot, xmgrace etc. and they are worse at graphing than MM or Maple.  We have so many brilliant people working on these programs and yet the outcome is almost never the same quality as the propriatary stuff. 
People could argue, well I have only a couple of hours to work on my project.  Great, but to me it makes no sense if you only have this ammount of time. I have a need and in general there is a real need for good software.   It seams like working all together on a few select projects that are of a great use to the masses like a CAS, a plotting program, even a GUI that is as nice as Windows is of an immenant importance.  Yet the GNU world is filled with half done projects, with small groups of people who will never come close to producing anything that rivals the for $ stuff because they do not share the time it would take to make something great with the entire Linux community.
Sorry if I come off as a raging idiot.  It is just that I have spent the last 6 months trying to make Debian do what I want and time and time again I am dissapointed.  We have the resources the intellectual capability of more than a thousand minds but very little is coming of it.  My thesis advisor has just switched from Mandrake to Macintosh.  This is rediculous.  Thanks for reading.
Yigal Weinstein  

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