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Want Linux on your desktop? Nine reasons to forget about it.

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  • Want Linux on your desktop? Nine reasons to forget about it.

    The following is what I consider a very good synopsis of Linux. I've felt that Linux has a place, albeit a niche place, in the computing world. This article puts into words what many of us think of Linux. If you're ready to jump on the Linux bandwagon simply because you hate Microsoft or Bill Gates, read on... ================================================= Want Linux on your desktop? Nine reasons to forget about it David Coursey, Executive Editor, AnchorDesk Linux is an important part of the computing landscape. Important because open standards matter. Important because it creates competition and a looming threat to Microsoft. Important because it gives a large number of geeks and wonks a religion to belong to--complete with a patriarch. Religion is a good thing, I believe, right up to the moment it makes a fool out of you. And a good many Linux.what's the term? Proponents? Advocates? No, zealots!--yes, a good many Linux zealots make fools of themselves. I don't have Ninety-Five Theses to nail to the Wittenberg Door, as Martin Luther did, but I take my reformation work where I can find it. So here are some ideas for reforming people's wrong-headed notions of Linux: Linux will never become common as a desktop operating system, and no amount of believing will change that. It only makes adherents look stupid. Why? Because Linux is too complex, and there isn't enough money to make it worth someone's time to build a really great environment for desktop apps. And then software companies would need to build applications, but how large a market is there? Yes, chicken-and-egg, but that stops many things, not just desktop Linux. If client-side Java had lived up to the promise of "write once, run anywhere" then Linux would have a bigger, but hardly fighting, chance of unseating desktop Windows. Linux, desktop especially but also server, is not a major threat to Microsoft. But it is enough of a threat to make Microsoft notice, and that is usually a good thing. Microsoft will be on the defensive, at least a little, and that gives customers some leverage they don't otherwise enjoy. I don't have numbers to support this, but Linux may be a bigger threat to various flavors of UNIX than it is to Microsoft server operating systems. There's at least a 50/50 probability that Linux will become Balkanized just as UNIX was. There will be multiple, semi-compatible versions of Unix that seem to be one operating system, right up until you try to install applications. Surprise! Not the Solaris version? Sorry! People talk about how wonderful it is that Linux is free. But over the life of a server, the operating system is such a small part of the cost that it gets lost in the other soft- and hard-dollar expenses. And you'd think systems offering the lowest total cost-of-ownership would sell better than they usually do. Apple, for many years, claimed a big TCO lead over Windows. But did it help? Big hardware companies may yet co-opt Linux: Here's an operating system they can load, create add-ons for, and then sell support contracts for. Add some minor barriers to switching to other platforms and operating systems--either Microsoft or another Linux--and you might have something. Isn't this how Sun became King of Unix? Linux is a fine server operating system Use it with my blessing, but don't let it define you, your IS shop, or your company. And don't select Linux just because you hate Microsoft. That isn't good enough reason to pick an operating system. Linux will be a common operating system in places where we don't see an operating system--like home information and entertainment appliances. Want Linux? Buy a TiVo digital video recorder. Linux makes great sense as an embedded OS, but faces much competition. Still, I am betting most people will have some sort of Linux-powered device in the lives sometime in the next 5 years or so. Luther and his followers were excommunicated for their beliefs. I don't face anything nearly as drastic as that--but I know there are many in the Linux cult ready to proclaim me a heretic, or worse. For my part, I suppose I'm happy there are people who define their lives by what operating system they use--if only because they're fun to watch. But I am even happier that I'm not one of them. Copyright 2001 ZD Inc. ZDNet is a registered service mark of ZD Inc. ZDNet Logo is a service mark of ZD Inc.

  • #2
    Want Linux on your desktop? Nine reasons to forget about it.

    David Coursey is one of my favorite columnists and, given that he wrote much of OS/2, he knows as well as anyone that resistance is futile. I believe he is wrong here though. Complexity on the desktop comes from having a full blown server when you install Linux. How many people run NT or the replacement Server versions of Windows? How many services come pre-installed on server versions or require enablement/disablement based on the circumstances, plus extra security patches? How does an OS that's too complex for the desktop become an excellent embedded OS, according to Coursey? By stripping out what's not needed by a desktop user, or an embedded application, or whatever. Also, the balkanization of Linux is wrong. Red Hat distro, including Mandrake, has over 90% of the market. There was an opinion from a Linux publication editor a couple of days ago that only applications based on Red Hat distros can make it. In my opinion, a combination of Windows and Office becoming too complex and expensive based on .Net initiatives of umbilical cord enablement and charging, Excel and Word compatible componentized Office replacement under KDE in Linux that can be custom integrated to work with session data (say from an AS/400, for example?), and a steady stream of Windows apps being ported over to Linux with the new Kylix compiler from Borland will make Linux, along with a good dose of deserved anti-American and Microsoft imperialism, along with steadily increasing greatness of European programmers, will make the case for Linux as the worldwide standard of the future. Java 1.4, Mac OS/X Aqua, and Kylix will create a compelling case for a cross platform development of the future that doesn't require M$ and its umbilical cord wrapped around your neck. Ralph

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