Vista launch will boost desktop Linux

Vista launch will boost desktop Linux

Summary: To watch our video interview with Jonathan Oxer, click here.update The launch of Windows Vista has created a huge opportunity for Linux vendors to take a larger share of the corporate desktop market, according to the president of Linux Australia.

video promo To watch our video interview with Jonathan Oxer, click here.

update The launch of Windows Vista has created a huge opportunity for Linux vendors to take a larger share of the corporate desktop market, according to the president of Linux Australia.

New features combined with a slightly different look and feel mean that migrating to Vista from an older version of Windows will cause disruption in the workplace.

On the first day of, the president of Linux Australia, Jonathan Oxer, told ZDNet Australia that instead of retraining staff on the new version of Windows, administrators could make the switch to Linux.

"People will have the choice -- they are going to get a major disruption and have to learn a whole new interface and way of working to switch from a previous version of Windows to Vista.

"It's just as much disruption -- or as little disruption -- to move to a version of Linux ... So what we will probably see is that a lot of companies now are going to very seriously consider, when they do their next refresh cycle, not switching to Vista but switching to a Linux-based platform instead," said Oxer.

This is a view shared by Tim Anderson, Information Services Director at the NSW Department of Education and Training (DET). In an interview with ZDNet Australia late last year, Anderson highlighted user retraining as a significant cost.

"One of the big costs the DET always faces when changing platform is retraining -- because we have 1.2 million users. Traditionally we try to make the new platform look like the old platform as much as possible.

"Clearly some of the changes to the user interface may well be things that users find attractive. In that case we will have to include the cost of implementation and training as part of the [Vista] rollout," he said.

Anderson also said he is considering increasing the number of Linux-based desktops.

Linux Australia's Oxer believes that the next year and a half will be a very important time for the Linux and open source communities.

"Right now is probably one of the biggest opportunities that Linux has had to make huge inroads on the desktop at a large scale corporate level ... it will be very interesting to see what happens over the next 12-18 months.

"It is going to be a really critical time that will lay out the computing landscape for many years to come," he added.

Vista missing "interesting" developments
Oxer criticised Microsoft for leaving out "interesting" improvements in Vista -- such as a new file system -- in order to meet marketing deadlines.

"Vista is a big step up from the existing system but it doesn't have any of the radical groundbreaking underlying architectural changes that we were hoping for. It is more of an incremental change, which is quite disappointing given that it has been so long since the last major release of Windows," said Oxer.

jonathan oxer

He also compared Microsoft's approach to that of the open-source community.

"The open-source community takes less of a big bang release approach and more of an incremental release approach. One of the basic tenants of the OSS development is release early, release often. So you don't go five years between releases -- and then have an apocalyptic earth changing scenario," said Oxer.

However, Oxer conceded that in some cases large corporate users may prefer long product release cycles.

"There are flip sides. If you are a corporate you don't necessary want an incremental release model. You might want a stable environment for five years -- so there are a whole lot of elements to it," he added.

Topics: Open Source, Hardware, Linux, Microsoft, Reviews, Windows

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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  • switching to linux

    i now have XP and will be switching to FC6 or xubuntu because the hardware requirements are too much and i'm tired of babying it.
  • What an ignorant article is this!

    First of all, ever since Linux has been available for download, there has been room for corporate retraining of their staff in Open Source Solutions.
    It's so freaking ignorant to note that the release of Vista will bring new opportunities for Linux to popularize. Linux is free! Linux has always had that edge on Windows. The release of Vista isn't going to be a stepping stone for Linux desktop popularization. I think Jonathon Oxer, is just another Linus worshipper. Honestly, it's a freakshow.
    Also, Why would Windows need a new filesystem. Microsoft kept their NTFS filesystem the same, for backward compatibility issues with XP, 2000, and 2003. It had nothing to do with a lack of interesting new developments.
  • One more thing.

    It seems to me that there is too much hatred of bigwig companies because of their monopolization of the software market. Open Source Community! Really now? Why should people defame microsoft and apple so much? Do we defame the big wigs of Nestle for their role in chocolate? Do we defame sony and panasonic for taking over the VCR and DVD Player market? It's just economical that major companies capitalize on business venture. Corporate slander seems to be the theme of the Open Source World. It's just a major pain in the donkey, that after 10 years of my working with Linux and Unix, there still remains a lack of quality multimedia development software porting to it. Blender is garbage, so 3D is out of the question. Flash is horrid on Linux. Wine is a joke.
    However server related stuff on Linux systems are really good. I mean if companies are gonna get smart, they should be training staff to learn both Open Source and Commercial software
  • My 0.02

    First of all YOUR FULL OF SHIT! just because you are not capable of using linux to its full advantage just proves the point further, it has been well documented that it is possible to run many MANY windows applications under wine, as well as flash working, also in case you hadnt heard there are even alternatives to wine. one being vmware. Sounds to me like your just another person that thanks bill gates hung the damn moon!!
  • Real properly, not through your own prejudice

    What the writer is referring to is the fact that Vista's cost, the fact that it has been 5 years between meals, the fact that most of the revolutionary stuff in Vista won't be delivered, the numerous flavours of Vista and Windows' traditionally buggy releases until service packs come along, may open an opportunity to switch to Linux IF the case calls for it.

    Here at my place of employment, Vista isn't even on the cards and may never be, and if we do switch to Linux, it will be on the back of a far better

    Finally people hate Microsoft, not solely because they have a monopoly (the other examples you give are either duopolies with other companies or an oligopoly), but because their business tactics have been at best excessively agressive. Part of business is dealing with ethics, both from a legal point of view, but also public perception. If you behave poorly, because you have the money and know how to do so (I would part on the latter), you will end up alienating people, and doing your corporate reputation much harm. And that is why Linux does have its fanatics, because the underlying premise upon which it does things comes from a fundamentally precept. You give people ownership and they feel far stronger about the product. But if you wring money out of people consistently (M$), they begin to resent you.
  • What an ignorant comment

    Yes Linux has always been free, thats not the point here. The point is Linux is NOT free when it causes a decrease in productivity to train your users (this article isn't talking about administrators) on a new environment and possibly new applications. That being said, the Vista environment is going to cause a similar disruption in user productivity due to training it provides a good opportunity to make the switch without a negative impact on the business.
  • My 2 cents

    In my opinion Vista isn't bringing anything important to windows. It's just looks pretty, like a OS X. Vista needed to bring a new back end to the way it worked. And all this talk about going to Linux instead of Vista, I don't think those numbers are completely correct. I believe many companies will just not change from what they are running now. For one vista's minimum requirements are so ridiculous I don't know how many standard office computers would be capable of running it. Also the problem with moving to Linux, is a lot of industry standard applications do not run on Linux. I think a lot of companies will not change and stay on what they have. I know here we will not be going to Vista or Linux. The amount of time that would be spent in training our users in the use of a new OS would take forever, and what actual gain would we get from either OS? Besides more headaches.
  • What Retraining

    I have been running the RTM versions of Vista for 2 weeks now, and I don't know of any retraining required as the applications that run in windows are the same whether it's XP or Vista!
  • Feed the Troll

    I don't like replying to this type of post, but in case anybody else was watching, Linux has the things you say it doesn't. I'll just address the multimedia claim.

    First, 3D. Blender is very powerful. Just look at the example images that have been done with it. Supposedly someone is doing a motion picture with Blender (don't have the link, but I think it's floating around the Blender site). There's also POVray if you're good at visualizing 3D scenes in your head (some people have made some truly amazing images -- for any 3D system -- with POVray). Finally, all "real" 3D work is done in a system like Maya, which is just as available for Linux as it is for any other system.

    As for music and video production, yes, Linux does lack, but it also has a lot of very cool building blocks (jack, etc.) not available anywhere else, ripe for putting together by the right people into a full, easy to use production system. I do play with music in Linux, and do use it for some recording, but my mixing etc. is still done in Windows.

    Now, for corporate bashing: people do have a problem with any monopoly/oligarchy situation, because it tends to hurt the "little guy" - many people have the technical knowledge needed to make a DVD player (hardware or software), but are forced to do so illegally because of the artificial entry barrier imposed by licensing requirements.
  • re filesystems

    You're drinking the Microsoft marketing koolAid if you believe the new filesystem didn't ship because of backward compatibility issues.
  • Training

    We currently use windows server2003 and xppro clients.

    If we were to change to linux we would require training in linux AND linux apps. If we were to change to vista we would only require vista training as all current windows apps would be used. So the expense of purchasing/training for vista would be less than the training required for linux AND linux apps.

    For an admin or experienced user to change to linux would be OK. But for the average mum and dad users who have windows and windows apps on their home pc's, and who are familiar with their Word, Excel, Outlook, etc., etc., it would be a nightmare they would rather do without.

    As a current windows user, which would you prefer - change to linux and the learning curve that comes with it, or remain with windows?
  • WinFS isn't a file system.

    WinFS was NEVER a file system, it was never designed to replace NTFS, it ran on top of NTFS. The fact he uses the new 'file system' as an argument shows how ignorant he really is. A lot of what WinFS was promising is still in Vista BTW.
  • File System

    Have you ever seen this error in the event log?

    "The file system structure on the disk is corrupt and unusable. Please run the chkdsk utility on the volume Data."

    The chkdsk will take approx 2 hours depending errors (600gb drive). Permissions to file & directories are sometimes removed.

    Windows needs journaling file system
  • I disagree

    Although you are correct in some aspect like 3D rendering is not yet up to par and other types of proprietry software isn't available. But that will change once Linux gets more mainstream.
    Where talking about desktops here so it's not just a question about Linux, but about desktop enviroments like Gnome and KDE.
    Plus the trainging is a one time thing, because Linux (and Gnome, KDE) will never go to such sudden and huge changes like Windows.
    I'm also getting very tired of the: Oh those poor monopolist companies the get yelled at all the time. People just get frustrated with the way these companies act. This is the same with the Sony rootkit and Walmart's dominance. These things are bad for consumers and I'm glad when they speak up. I think consumers should speak up more often.
    Companies also get good critics when they do good stuff like Sun opensourcing Java and Novell opening up (although there is less of that lately).
  • Linux is actually good stuff

    While training in any migration is an issue, people in general are rather used to opening/closing windows. Word processors are word processors etc etc etc. It's like all planes largely look like planes because they are planes. Yes - Blender did a movie. You can do sophisticated studio recording with Linux. And much much more. Today, it's many techie enthusiasts that are there and that's how much of it happens and the rest follow, given growth and time.

    Linux continues to grow and each piece of it is usually done very well and modular. As the modules continue to grow and the integration of the modules continues same, you'll end up with a very very nice and powerful system

    I've just put Fedora 6 back on my laptop and while I've had to add the multi-media stuff myself, it really was not all that hard and once I was playing a DVD and I grabbed the desktop background with mouse click 1 and 3 together, I could rotate the entire desktop cube in full 3D while the DVD player and all the other little desktop performance graphs and the like remained fully "LIVE". A most awesome sight especially for those that are technical -- because it is they who all of a sudden realize that in less hardware, it is delivering much more (than Window/Vista). Even my staunch MS colleagues (developers and sys admins alike) see that and acknowledge that it is way cool!.

    Everyone just argues about Linux is hard in various ways and yet I likewise say that although doing sys admin and non trivial software development for 30+ years -- That I absolutely find many aspects of Windows confusing, cumbersome and definitely let's not forget - irritating!. I often grow tired of Windows trying to help me. I can also say the same of some aspects of Linux. But since I can look under the hood, I can deal with it and advance it to get the job done.

    As time marches onward though -- Take heed that as Linux continues to muster more and more growth and the modules come more and more together, Mom and Pop will use it just fine and its use and totally legitimate place in all aspects of computing (be it home or corporate) will be inescapable and undeniable. In just one of the places where I work today, it's a dominant (and appreciated) server platform whenever possible.

    In the meantime, I'm going back to a Linux desktop and will do my main activities there and will use virtualization to run Windows as and when needed. Others will eventually catch up :-). Follow the developers, enthusiasts and the innovation and you will find Linux.
  • Technically... are right, except Microsoft has called it a new filesystem. It does not matter if it is or not a filesystem, it does matter what they sell it as to their customers.
  • What a joke is Oxer

    Linux has had more than a decade to unseat windows as the prime choice of desktop for the world, and so far and as far as I can see it will not happen for a very long time.

    Why is that...we need to not focus on the operating system as it is a pointless discussion. You need to choose the best application stack that meets your commercial or private requirements, whether that is MS Office, Open Office or what ever, then you choose the best platform that provides the management, support and capability to best support your organisation and the application stack that is business critical.

    You do not, and should never choose the OS and then try to find apps that might meet your needs, that is just business stupidity.

    So until the Xenix clone fraternity learn this fact and can address it with an integrated application stack that works seamlessly together, provides business support ie Oracle, SAP, JDE client support, office empowerment apps, centralised managment capability etc etc they are not addressing the reals needs of the community.
  • Not a monopoly like this

    Now look, all of those examples are monopolies out of choice. Let's say (and it's not true, but let's say) that everyone in the world drinks Nestle. Well I can still damn well choose to drink a different kind of drink. It's my choice. Same goes for every other product.

    Windows... I hate it. I never want to use it again. But I have to. Not because everyone uses it, and I'm a sheep, but because I can't play my favourite games on Linux because games are written for Windows. Because I can't watch certain video formats (and I certainly can't legally watch DVDs) in Linux due to artificial licensing and proprietary drivers/codecs/programs written for Windows. Because I can't even buy a computer without being forced to buy Windows due to Microsoft's bullying (licensing) tactics.

    Face it: Windows is a monopoly the likes of which have never been seen before. Every business or individual who switches to Linux is a good thing.
  • Music application

    Have you ever considered rosegarden?
  • Training of users

    Everybody always refer to the fact that transitioning to GNU/Linux is almost impossible to the average joe user!
    My argument is that is it not the average joe user which should be in focus. Average joe user just needs his average applications and as long as these applications behave more or less the same he or she could not care less which OS these applications are running on. The users which should be in focus are the advanced users or admins because they are the once which deals with the OS.

    If said users are not able to learn have to deal with a new OS, given reasonable time and training, they are not considered to be called professionels but merely windows jonkies. We all know that jonkies are not trustworthy since all the care about it hove to get there next fix!