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Linux and the Desktop, a New Angle

IT professionals from small and medium sized businesses were quite vocal last week about the viability of Linux as a desktop alternative. Assuming I am wrong about timing, and considering all the problems associated with Microsoft Vista, what will it take for more SMBs to make the switch?
IT professionals from small and medium sized businesses were quite vocal last week about the viability of Linux as a desktop alternative. Assuming I am wrong about timing, and considering all the problems associated with Microsoft Vista, what will it take for more SMBs to make the switch?I read a colleague's blog on Apple in business with interest. Here we have a mature company, with an exceptionally well recognized brand that has been selling desktop systems for over 20 years. Why haven't they been able to capture more than 3% of the worldwide desktop market?

How can Linux break the stranglehold that Microsoft has on the market when a company with the resources of Apple can't make a dent?

The fact that Linux is "free" may not be the clincher vs. Vista. Sure, it is easy to get a copy of the OS and try it out, but if most companies opt for a supported distribution such as Ubuntu or SuSe, then the cost differential may be less compelling. A point of reference: Ubuntu charges $250-900/yr for desktop maintenance and support.

I agree that Linux is more secure than any Microsoft offering, but the same could be said about Apple's products.

The big difference between Linux and Apple is platform independence. Linux can be run on just about any PC on the market.

What can Linux "vendors" learn from Apple's challenges?

- Make sure they have the proper channels in place. While early adopters have taken the initiative to find and evaluate new technology, the majority of buyers need to find it at retail outlets and via their VARs.

- Applications are key. Everything the community can do to enhance office productivity software is critical. Mozilla Firefox has created great exposure for open source software. Continuous improvement on OpenOffice is essential.

- Compromise! Interoperability is critical. Developers should not assume that if someone switches to a Linux desktop, that the rest of their infrastructure will be Linux based. It might, it should, but it can't be force fed.

For all you IT folks that have made the switch, continue being advocates, active members of the community, and share your knowledge and passion. It's the open source way.