Linux in the Enterprise, Linux on the Desktop.

Linux in the Enterprise, Linux on the Desktop.

Summary: 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?


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?

Topics: Linux, Data Centers, Laptops, Microsoft, Operating Systems, PCs

Gery Menegaz

About Gery Menegaz

Gery Menegaz is a Chief Architect for IBM with more than 20 years supporting technologies in the financial, medical, pharmaceutical, insurance, legal and education sectors. My Full-Time Employer is IBM. I write as a freelancer for ZDNet.

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  • Linux on the desktop

    I have NO tech training, but have HS dip., have run Win 3.10 thru 7, NT, win 2000, & briefly a 1999 iMac. Have been using Ubuntu and/or Mint upwards of 5 yr., currently 12.04, on 6+ desktops, 2 laptops. Always a fast easy install/setup, all hardware installed automaticly, incl. scanners/cameras thatwould not run on Win Vista/7. Always fast, stable, versatile.
    I always preferred "classic" desktop, so use the Ubuntu/Mint equiv, + Firefox, Thunderbird & Pidgin. I have NEVER had to use command line, or compile anything ! I believe learning curve way less than moving up to a newer Win v., especialy if not/can't use "Classic" mode, and I have intrduced several folks to Ubuntu/Mint, and they also found the change easy, and were very happy with improved stabilty and especially the vastly improved perfomance, plus easier navigation. The many, almost an overload, free and easy to install apps impressed the heck out of them ! When one adds the zero outlay, the zero cost for newer hardware and peripheral devices, I cannot understand the average user, small bussiness, or even more enterpises, have not switched, or at least dual-booted, a lot more than they have.
    Old Dog V
  • KDE

    I started out on Ubuntu + Gnome, but the push towards Unity and away from Gnome 2 drove me over to KDE, where I happily reside now. I ran OpenSUSE for a while, but am back in the more familiar world of Kubuntu now.

    Still using my favorite Gnome apps, though, including Nautilus and Shotwell. KDE doesn't force you to give up Gnome apps, or vice versa.

    Seriously, Windows users, you STILL don't have tabs in Explorer? How do you copy/move files from folder to folder??
  • Re:

    I am using Gentoo Linux with kernel 3.4 and KDE 4.8.3

    It is clear that the mobile market is at least trying to push its way into the traditional desktop market. Maybe we'll see more Android in the wild.

    But the freedom we have enjoyed with our devices is going to be short lived. Just look at how locked down a lot of mobile devices are? There is so much proprietary hardware going into a lot of lower end Android devices that it is next to impossible for me to build my own kernels.
    And then you have the whole Secure Boot thing going on, they are trying to lock down the desktop market just like most of the mobile market.

    If this keeps up, I will leave the PC market for good. I'm sure I can find a nice SPARC box, or maybe I could build something based around ARM.
  • Tried again, Linux just sucks

    Funny, I was a huge fan of Linux back in the RedHat 6 dats,, Then did an update and realized things don't update. You had to re-install and reconfigure everything. Forget it.
    Now flash forward.. Decided to try Debian as a dualboot system alongside Win7 just to fool with it. Installed fairly easily, but refused to use my USB wireless dongle, even though it was supposedly supported. Tried looking at the driver disk, and whoa, there's Linux drivers! Popped it in, looked at the readme... WTF? Go in, set up the makefile, compile your own drivers? right. And in the course of messing around, I wanted to change the screen resolution so I could see it..You can't in Gnome. again..WTF? Best I could find was go find your xconfig file and edit in the resolutions you want. Joking, right?? even old versions of Gnome let you adjust screen resolution. This kind of hokey junk is the kind of stuff that will forever prevent Linux being mainstream. You going to tell Grandma how to go edit system files to change this stuff? Then, after giving up in disgust, I found the final straw - the install had recognized my Windows install and informed me it would appear on a boot menu to select. NOT. Linux and Linux debug are the only two options. SOOOO...Windows repair, fixboot and fixmbr, and Linux is blissfully out of my life once again. And may I note, I'm an IT guy, I have better than average PC knowledge. Leave Linux in the server room where it belongs.
    • Oh, and printing..

      Which would have been rudimentary at best, since my nice Canon photo printer isn't supported by Linux. GIMP might be the greatest thing in the world, but would only provide me 300 dpi grayscale - Not quite framing material, is it?
      • Sorry

        All recent Canon printers are supporte by Canon with binary drivers which install via your package manager. In the form of .deb and .rpm.

        I do not think your experience with Debian is typical. More info might be helpful in finding out what went wrong for you. I haven't seen a *nix bootloader FUBAR a Win entry for years if ever.

        Although if you are new to Linux, straight-up Debian may not be the best choice for your first attempt.
        Tim Patterson