2004: The year of desktop Linux?

2004: The year of desktop Linux?

Summary: The hype may have faded from the idea of desktop Linux, but that hasn't stopped governments and corporations from beginning to test the waters

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The initial excitement about Linux as an alternative to Windows on the desktop has long since cooled, and the most encouraging industry projections don't show the open-source operating system taking off on desktops for several years. But a funny thing has happened over the past year: large organisations have actually started making commitments to Linux desktops, in a trend that is likely to continue in 2004 and pick up steam in the future.

This trend may yet be in its infancy, but industry analysts say it could eventually open up the choices available to businesses, and even consumers.

The hype around desktop Linux mirrored the dot-com boom in the late 1990s, and tailed off about as quickly. But at that time, the idea that Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Mandrake Linux or SuSE Linux could be used on the desktop was mainly hypothetical. The software was available at retail for anyone who wanted it, but those users appeared to be few and far between.

Since then, it's become possible to find actual significant examples of companies and government bodies that have chosen to switch desktops from Windows to Linux, and the operating system is making a small but perceptible impact on desktop OS market share. IDC says Linux's desktop market share has nearly doubled in the past three years, from 1.5 percent at the end of 2000 to 2.8 percent now. Linux is poised to surpass Apple's 2.9 percent of the market, as projected a year ago.

IDC says it is predicting mainstream acceptance of Linux on servers by 2005, but believes desktop acceptance will "only trail slightly" behind servers.

Improved offerings
Enthusiasm for Linux on the desktop made significant advances in 2003, particularly among IT giants that had previously backed Linux, but mainly on servers. IBM, Red Hat and HP all made significant desktop-Linux moves in 2003. Industry rumours have suggested IBM, Dell, HP and others may be on the point of rolling out broad-based technical support programmes for Linux desktops, which would make the option more appealing for corporations.

Sun Microsystems recently introduced a low-cost Linux-based desktop operating system aimed at corporations, called Java Desktop System (JDS). SuSE Linux introduced an enterprise-centric desktop solution in mid-2003.

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  • Does the Gartner Vice President get handouts from Micro$oft? How many typical office computer users need the advanced features of Winblows or Office? For word processing, spreadsheets and presentations there is OpenOffice or Star Office (free and ~
    anonymous
  • Hype May Have Faded? What?

    As a systems company executive who oversees Linux implementations on some of the worlds largest financial institutions I can tell you not only has desktop Linux not faded (as I'm sure many at C(ZD)-Net would have liked, it's grown tremendous steam.

    This damning with faint praise is BS and I'm going to take you to task for it.

    There is no fading momentum behind desktop Linux. It grows everyday in organizations both large and small, public and private. I'm sure that fact is much to the consternation of many at C(ZD)-Net and of course SCO, but no worries... Desktop Linux will be just fine.


    Nick Donovan
    President/CTO
    Ioni Corporation
    anonymous
  • Linux was on my desktop since 1994
    anonymous
  • As an ordinary user who loves to experiment with trying to use Linux at home, I find that I can use it for practically everything I do on my PC except use it for voice and video chat using IM's like Yahoo. Once that is possible I will see no reason to boot into Windows again. Till then I keep switching back and forth between OSS applications like OpenOffice.org and Mozilla on Windows and Linux.
    I use my PC for web browsing, Email, chatting, reading and updating documents in Word and Excel.
    Recently I bought a Palm and notice that Linux support for the device is not as extensive as Windows. So that may be yet a negative as on date. But the future is as bright as ever.
    anonymous
  • Hmmm, FUD, FUD, FUD, FUD, and FUD.

    <b><i>The initial excitement about Linux as an alternative to Windows on the desktop has long since cooled... </b></i>

    What on god's green IT Unit are you talking about?!? Excitement about Linux, the FIRST viable challenge to the sick, corrupt, and innovation-starved M$ monoculture, continues unabated, despite the Micro$haft-funded FUD campaign waged by SCO. There is NO evidence of SCO's criminal behaviors having ANY effect whatsoever on Linux adoption rates.

    <b><i>...and the most encouraging industry projections don't show the open-source operating system taking off on desktops for several years.</b></i>

    Um, it's "taken off," good buddies, and it's now making what we call "inroads" on the desktop. Your FUDdy use of the term "taking off" is transparent, bovine. The "industry projections" made by the harlots - er, analysts beholden to M$ (particularly Gartner) - have consistently sand-bagged (underestimated, deliberately, IMO) rates of growth for Linux ever since they began to pay attention. ZD knows this, but then again, ZD is OWNED by Paul Allen, co-founder and major stockholder in M$.

    <b><i>But a funny thing has happened over the past year: large organisations have actually started making commitments to Linux desktops, in a trend that is likely to continue in 2004 and pick up steam in the future.</b></i>

    Whatta surprise! Who'd a thunk it, huh? Businesses are tired of paying too much for too little. They LIKE often-free (as in beer) open source (as in free speech) software that THEY can assure themselves is clean, free from "backdoors" and has what M$ crapware hasn't: security built in from the getgo.

    <b><i>This trend may yet be in its infancy, but industry analysts say it could eventually open up the choices available to businesses, and even consumers.
    </b></i>

    Duh! Did the (cough)"analysts"(cough) actually say "eventually?!?" Man, that's a really obscene twist... like the one above. The choices are open NOW, not some pie in the sky. Mandrake Linux (er, I'm something of a Frog-o-phobe, but I love Mandrake!) or the new curiously-named "Java Desktop System" that includes the best Linux product from Ximian (Novell), SuSE AG and others fit the bill just fine for biz or indiviaduals. RedHat made the decision to go strictly enterprise. Fine, they don't have the friendliest desktop anyway..

    <b><i>The hype around desktop Linux mirrored the dot-com boom in the late 1990s, and tailed off about as quickly.</b></i>

    Whoever wrote that needs to stop smoking crack. Get a new habit, dude.

    <b><i> But at that time, the idea that Linux distributions such as Red Hat, Mandrake Linux or SuSE Linux could be used on the desktop was mainly hypothetical. </b></i>

    There are plenty of non-geeky people using Linux since 1997 on...

    <b><i>The software was available at retail for anyone who wanted it, but those users appeared to be few and far between.</b></i>

    Few compared to what? M$? Well, M$ has 95% of the market.

    <b><i>Since then, it's become possible to find actual significant examples of companies and government bodies that have chosen to switch desktops from Windows to Linux, and the operating system is making a small but perceptible impact on desktop OS market share. IDC says Linux's desktop market share has nearly doubled in the past three years, from 1.5 percent at the end of 2000 to 2.8 percent now. Linux is poised to surpass Apple's 2.9 percent of the market, as projected a year ago. </b></i>

    Essentially correct, except Linux has maybe surpassed Mac already...

    <b><i>IDC says it is predicting mainstream acceptance of Linux on servers by 2005... </b></i>

    Double duh! "2005?" Mainstream acceptance on servers was there a year or two ago, depending on industry. Financials (at least here in NYC) were early adopters.

    All of the qualifying language from the "analysts" suggests that Linux benefits are "Just over the next hill, you bet!" They said the sa
    anonymous
  • Most Linux advocates seem to see the boogeyman behind every word and action. If you do not agree with them, you must get pay by Microsoft, why not also, Apple? So here we go. I am a new Linux user, I bought Suse 9.0 to try it and check it out four weeks ago. I am open to anything,. I was using the Geoworks GUI before Windows 3.1 came out.

    Well, Suse 9.0 is alright as OS go. You can expect OS code to be always perfect. I wish that the different desktops in Linux would use a common set of ways for doing things. With KDE is easier to get things done, like changing themes, background, etc., but I personally prefer the looks of Gnome even though I use KDE most of the time since I find it more user friendly. I heard so much that Linux was much more stable and safe, so I went ahead and decided to try it. Well, yesterday it crashed on me. I left it on with the screensaver runining and it crashed. Isn't that what most of you blame Windows of doing? Well, how often is Linux going to crash on me? Then, there are the updates and patches. Yes, there are updates and patches for Linux too! Two days ago I downloaded a Kernel patch, 154 MB., I am so glad I have cable! Besides I have downloaded many other patches already. So, it is not much different than Windows. I guess I never heard about that because it is such a small share of the OS market. How about viruses? Yes, there are viruses for Linux, but no one to get daily or weekly definitions updates from. Of course there are much less Linux viruses out there. The market just do not support the effort, but if the market share rises, so will the virus threat. Viruses are market share driven!
    Let's talk about cost, like the writer above discussed. I bought Suse 9.0 for $ 79.00 ( I rather buy it so i can get 60 days of support since I am new at Linux, and get the manuals for it. Also, not many can download 3 or more CD from the Internet). Wine if i want to run Windows programs cost $49.00. I can buy Star Office ( I want the manuals) for $ 79.00. Anyone can buy a PC with Windows XP Home installed, with either Works Suite or Wordperfect Suite installed and not have to pay anymore. So in the cost basis is a wash.
    Yes, Linux can be a great OS and a threat to any other OS out there one day. But right now, useability, programs, support, etc. are not there yet. So, Linux advocates, continue working on it, follow the HIG guidelines, make it user friendlier, intuittive ( where do the programs go after you install them for example? Bury the command line deep, very deep. Users do not care for that. Mounting and unmounting dirves and CD-Roms? Please. Many of you want it that way, hard, but then, do not complaint when people do not embrace your Linux), and hopefully in a few years we will have more competition in the desktop market. It is always nice to get something for nothing, but in the end we all end up paying. In Linux, if you don't pay for the distribution, you will pay in time spent figuring out how things work. To me and most people, except the hobbyist, time is more expensive than the dollars you pay for a store bought software package, and even then, in Linux I still have to spend too much time figuring out how to do things that should be by now very easy, even in Linux.
    anonymous
  • When Unix replaced Mainframes, didn't everything have to rewritten?
    When 64bit replaces 32bit wont everything have to rewritten?
    When 64bit has 100GB of RAM what then? Which of today's applications will be relevant? How many of today's desktop workers will be needed?
    If Linux is mostly free how does IDC count desktops?
    If MS is losing enough market share to make its quarterly profit flat, who has gained?
    anonymous