December 9th, 2002 02:46 PM
Linux desktop refuses to die...
Report for Linux fans & users:
Despite repeated reports of its demise, the Linux desktop has refused to die. In fact, it is healthier than ever.
Most well-known Linux distributions, including Red Hat (Nasdaq: RHAT) , SuSE and Mandrake, are renewing their focus on the desktop. And a few newer distributions, such as Lindows and Xandros, focus exclusively on the desktop experience.
Besides the operating system vendors, two other companies at the forefront of the Linux desktop effort are Ximian and The Kompany. They provide much-needed applications that could enable Linux to gain desktop market share.
Making Open Source Easy
Ximian provides a customized GNOME desktop for several Linux distributions, along with a few of its own applications. Ximian vice president Jon Perr told NewsFactor that the company wants to remain distribution-agnostic.
The company's primary goal is to put Linux on corporate customers' desktops. According to Perr, "Linux on the desktop, as we see it, is very much a corporate enterprise market. We're not focused on the consumer audience."
Perr added that Ximian's strategy is to provide companies with "collaboration and interoperability solutions, [such as] Evolution [and] Red Carpet Enterprise Management.... We help companies enable desktop users."
Applications Are Key
Meanwhile, Shawn Gordon, president of The Kompany, told NewsFactor that "the viability of Linux on the desktop is going to be entirely dependent on the applications." Unlike Ximian, The Kompany does not provide a complete desktop solution. Instead, it provides applications that Linux lacks. The Kompany's applications are based on Trolltech's Qt toolkit, and many of them can run on Linux, Windows or Mac OS.
Perr is confident that Linux now has the applications it needs to be successful. "Compare now to 12 months ago," he said. "A lot of the core productivity applications are available today, and they're robust. The Linux desktop has crossed the threshold."
Of course, just because applications are ready does not mean that executives, particularly CIOs and CTOs, are aware of their existence. "The CIO's perception of progress on the desktop is lagging reality," Perr said, pointing out that IT workers in the trenches have a better view of Linux. "In a lot of cases, at a lower level, there was a higher awareness of these [desktop] applications."
Gordon said part of the blame for erroneous perceptions of Linux lies with analysts. "A lot of 'the desktop is dead' was Gartner et al," he noted. "I have yet to work with any of these types of groups and hear them say anything of value. They tend to create the future rather than predict it."
Perceptions aside, though, Perr admitted there are still a few areas in which Linux is not yet a good solution. "One area for future improvement [is] the macro compatibility, support and translation," he said. Therefore, users who rely heavily on such tools as Excel and Word templates and macros are likely to remain stranded on Windows for the time being.
Thanks to Microsoft
Clearly, however, Linux desktops are making progress, and that would not be happening if people were not looking for a change. Perr said Linux has gotten a boost from an unexpected source. "Microsoft has been a tremendous help to the Linux desktop," he told NewsFactor. Specifically, Perr said, the software giant's new licensing policy has been a big factor driving companies to consider Linux. "People are extremely upset," he noted.
Gordon agreed with that assessment. "I've been saying since we [were] founded that we were one major Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) upgrade away from a major paradigm shift."
What does the future hold for Linux? No one knows for sure, but Gordon has an optimistic outlook. "A guy once said to me, 'By 2010, a standard essay subject in MBA courses will be "The Collapse of Microsoft."' I'd like to think he was right."
December 9th, 2002 03:04 PM
Good article. Having used linux since "back in the day" (around 1994-5 was my intro) when things were SO different than they are now, I've seen companies like Redhat get started and stick with it, survive through the linux-bashing (FUD in full effect), second round funding claimed, etc. I've also seen companies with viable products that are competition get killed before they can make it out of the gate. Why? IMHO, it's because MS is so huge in the market (they got there by taking other products, etc), not because they've got a better product. They control the desktop, sure, but they definitely don't do it by having a superior OS on any level.
Once people get off the "point and click" bandwagon and start understanding computers instead of being driven by them or limited by the OS, linux and macs will be a more viable solution and will become more known but right now, CEOs, CIOs, and CTOs are more interested in grabbing that one contract that covers their desktop, servers, etc etc. When was the last time you ever saw NT on something that wasn't Compaq-farmed? Support. That's the key. Anyone I ever get to try linux, I always tell them to let me know if they need help as I'll be there 24x7 so they'll understand more. Now if we can get that in a commercial package, it'll be a good start.
EDIT: also, it's not fun for unix admins like myself at 99% of the jobs we hold. "I'm your unix administrator reporting for duty!" which is immediately met with "Good, here's your NT workstation." . . . WTF?
We the willing, led by the unknowing, have been doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much with so little for so long that we are now qualified to do just about anything with almost nothing.
December 9th, 2002 07:35 PM
Linux, because of price, will continue to at least hold its own. Many computer users are still put off by the still somewhat valid rumors that linux is difficult to learn. Remember, most computer users just want to use the computer and could care less how it works.
Personally, having seen a copy of the distro, I think LYCORIS is ready to really take off. Wouldn't it be fitting if a linux distro in the same town (Redmond) could shake up microsoft?
December 9th, 2002 09:22 PM
LYCORIS is more than ready to take off. Buy stock now while it's cheap. (is there any?)