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Tuesday, 02 January 2007 05:08

The year of the Linux desktop!

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You'll see these words in more than one article penned by the pundits. Every year since about 2003 has been called the year of the Linux desktop - and then, when that fails to transpire, those who predict these things set about rehashing their predictions for the next year.

 That the idea has been floated again does not surprise me. This is a year when Microsoft will be seeking to push a new version of its Windows operating system down consumers' throats. It's also a year when several GNU/Linux distributions can claim to be sufficiently desktop-oriented for the average person to have no problem using any one of them.

The idea is pushed by those with a stake in its coming to fruition - the biztech media, several so-called pundits and businesses which stand to gain monetarily. Were GNU/Linux to gain serious marketshare in the business space, then all these peole would see their bank balances start to swell. In order to achieve this objective, any and every means will justify the end.

That's why there have been several people justifying the deal which Novell struck with Microsoft last year. One of them, the chief executive of the Open Source Development Labs, Stuart Cohen, is believed to have been forced to resign shortly thereafter as his public support for this deal did not sit well with the stated mission of the organisation he was heading. That's the extent to which people go.

What will happen during the year? Will any organisations look to replace the Windows desktops which they use with GNU/Linux? Why would businesses change platforms at any point unless they have to? And the only scenario one can visualise for a change is when hardware is upgraded - and that always comes with a version of Windows installed! If any OEMs are selling GNU/Linux machines, that would be news.


All organisations that use Windows, generally use Word, a software package which has hundreds of functions, only 20 percent of which even the most advanced user utilises. Why would one need to upgrade to a newer version with even more functions which are not going to be used unless one is forced to?

People tend to talk of software migrations taking place due to security concerns. If any business was serious about security and feared a break-in due to the use of Windows, the switch to something like the Mac or GNU/Linux would have taken place years ago. Any additional security which is part of a new Windows O-S is something like a chimera.

One recent study claimed, "open source, especially Linux, is being legitimised by the major enterprise vendors, and user executives are more than happy to believe them." It is difficult to believe that such nonsense is taken seriously. Open source gained credibility a long time ago and anyone who isn't aware of that is just plain ignorant.

There are plenty of factors which inhibit a migration from the desktop, chief among them being a lack of properly trained administrators. Point-and-click monkeys are available by the dozen but an admins with hands-on experience, hackers in the true sense of the word, are few and far between. Hence, any advice from such admins will revolve around the easiest option - which is to follow the old saying "no-one ever got fired for buying IBM" with a small twist - now IBM is replaced by Microsoft.

The year of the Linux desktop? Rubbish. By the end of the year, there would have been enough arm-twisting by the people in Redmond and the upgrades will begin. You can count on it.

 


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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