While Linux has managed to make significant inroads in the enterprise in the past few years, Linux on the lowly work station or desktop is still a best effort support initiative sponsored by an enclave of techies. Why is this still the case?
Last week I received a new Linux based laptop. The set up was fairly painless, but had to hunt down some of the information needed to get my basic applications up and running. Total set up time was about 2 hours. The biggest hurdle was pulling the old data configurations from my Windows based laptop as it blue-screened as I was working to set up the new machine. And I am counting getting the old system stable the in the 2 hours of setup.
In fact, there is a familiar, albeit different, blue screen on it now as it runs CHDSK on the desk next to me! I will not miss these interruptions.
From an end user perspective I could see that the typical user would have a little bit of a learning curve, but it would be no different than migrating users from one version of Windows to the next. The icons are slightly different, but the functionality represented by the graphical metaphors are the same. I was surprised and pleases to see that the user interface was a mix between Windows XP and Mac.
Most end users would love the response rates I am achieving with my system now. Mind you, I did get a faster chip-set and associated hardware, but without the burden of a bloated operating system, everything responds remarkably faster – faster than I would have expected on this system, anyway.
The only issue occurred when an errand software update knocked my wireless out. I removed a bogus line from the iwlagn.conf file and all is good again.
So why isn't everyone out there running Linux?
The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit consortium that is dedicated to promoting, protecting, and advancing the development and adoption of Linux, published a paper earlier this year titled Linux Adoption Trends 2012: A Closer Look which highlighted many positive Linux trends. The paper is significant in the companies they noted as running Linux and for the remarkable adoption rates they cited.
Today companies such as Toyota, Google, Facebook, the NY Stock Exchange, Amazon and many others run Linux in their data centers and most critical environments.
The foundation reported good news, in as much as the companies they polled reported that despite decreases in IT spending, many IT shops are adding Linux to the mix. Of those, more than 75% are choosing Linux to support big data initiatives. There are fewer issues impeding operating system success over the previous year, they report a 40% decrease. Also, more than two-thirds of respondents found Linux to be more secure.
This is quite a change from the Lies, Damned Lies & Server Statistics, bloggers were writing about just a few of years ago.
Yet all of that good news represents server infrastructure, rather than desktop adoption.
The reality is that Microsoft has a lock on the desktop. Last year, in the time that it took Apple to move 6 million copies of Lion, Microsoft was able to move 400 million copies of Windows 7 and was projected by Gartner to be on 42% of all PCs by the end of 2011! By some estimates, Microsoft 7, Vista and XP have about 87% of the market.
Even though it is equivalent of Luke flying into and destroying the Death Star, the PC market is changing, but Luke is the iPac to the PC's Death Star.
What are you running on your PC and where do you think the market is headed?