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8/6/2008
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IBM To Linux Desktop Developers: 'Stop Copying Windows'

Company executives call on the open source community to do more to make Linux popular as a desktop OS for consumers and businesses.

IBM, whose decision to back Linux years ago was a driving force in its adoption by business, called on developers of the open-source operating system to make it more "green" and to stop copying Windows, if they want to see Linux on the desktop.

Bob Sutor, VP of open source and standards at IBM, told attendees of the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco, that what the open source community needs to make Linux popular as a desktop OS used by consumers and businesses are "some really good graphic designers."

"Stop copying 2001 Windows. That's not where the usability action is," Sutor said during his afternoon keynote.

Sutor's comments came a day after IBM announced at the show that it was joining Linux distributors Canonical, Novell, and Red Hat in building Microsoft-free PCs for business. The four companies agreed to provide hardware partners with the software to build desktops that would have alternatives to Windows and Office.

IBM's comments to the Linux community of developers carry a lot of weight, given the huge investment and contribution the tech company has made to the OS. IBM threw its weight behind Linux in December 2000, when it promised to spend $1 billion on development of the OS the following year.

Sutor offered "predictions" that collectively seemed more like a roadmap of where IBM would like to see Linux evolve over the next 10 years. Among the areas developers should focus is in making the OS more green, Sutor said.

Linux needed to become even more efficient in its use of resources to bolster efforts to reduce energy consumption in the data center. Even though server virtualization, load balancing, better resource management and other technologies make the OS efficient today, "there's got to be more."

"I've got this lingering feeling that open source has not done enough," Sutor said, noting that the community hasn't thought hard enough about how to make Linux even more efficient. "We're doing the obvious things," he said.

In addition, the small and medium-size business market presented a "great opportunity for Linux," because the free OS could help to reduce cost, Sutor said. However, SMBs also need "turnkey applications" that just run with very little maintenance.

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