My pharmacist got a Linux box this week.
He didn't choose to run Linux. His Value Added Reseller (VAR) did. The new system connects with the same online resources as the old one, it has nifty black flat screen monitors, and the printer output looks better to patients.
This is where desktop Linux is right now. It's in the hands of VARs, developers, integrators and vertical market specialists. Folks with specific industry knowledge connect specific customers to specific resources seamlessly, add their own proprietary tweaks, and sell the results on to small offices and small businesses.
John Cherry's dentist also got Linux this week, he told me. Cherry is the desktop Linux initiative manager for the OSDL, the man in charge of the Portland Project. But he didn't have anything to do with the dentist's choice, either.
Portland 1.0, which became available last week, consists of seven tools to address "pain points" for developers in porting applications to either KDE or GNOME under Linux. Their jobs just got easier, and there's opportunity for more to come in.
"For the knowledge worker, those who need access to the Web with an e-mail client and office suite, we can offer good Linux alternatives," he said.
This is sweet for VARs. They lower their costs, they deliver more hardware value for the same price, and they get more customer control. They are no longer subject to Windows upgrade cycles, or Windows viruses.
While Cherry says that stores like WalMart and BestBuy will offer desktop Linux, it's the specialists who are profiting for now. But there are a lot of specialists out there.
How many do you think there are?