It’s articles like these that make me think. You know, I love Linux. I also love OS X and have no real hatred for Windows (I do have real hatred for Microsoft). The point of the editorial is basically to watch out for Linux on the desktop. Ummm, duh. Just the other day at Lowe’s buying paint, I caught a glimpse of the terminal in the wallpaper department… Linux on a small IBM machine running XWindows. That is how Linux will grow on the desktop. I think Linux is perfect for single application terminals / limited use in stores, or other places where those using the computer should have 1) no ability to change the functions of the machine or 2) limited access to functionality outside of the intended use. So, for a call center, you could give each rep access to a web browser, like Mozilla, with e-mail and web browsing, their own home directory with a disk quota for bookmarks and documents, and put your customer tracking database online behind a firewall. Voila, no site-wide Windows License and almost perfect security.
When I was in tech support, we made a hobby of breaking the Windows Policy Editor settings that were supposed to keep us from running our own applications. We ALWAYS found a way around them. In Linux, those functions can be removed from the terminal completely, and each user will only be able to run applications in the directory they’re assigned.
The problem with adopting Linux across an enterprise is converting the business folks who 1) aren’t geeky, and 2) set in their ways when it comes to Microsoft Office. I fear the conversion for them will never happen, unless Microsoft’s licensing scheme becomes completely overbearing and financially unbearable. Even then, I think that business folks might start looking at OS X as an option (ok that’s COMPLETELY wishful thinking).
As enterprises become more creative, and Microsoft charges more and more for licenses, Linux will make gains. First at the bottom levels of organizations where it’s easy to dictate to the user base what they will use to perform their job functions.
Personally, I don’t use Linux day-to-day as my desktop. I like Gnome, and it’s perfectly servicable for navigating through installed programs. I’m still a slave to Windows, although I find myself using my Powerbook and Quiksilver G4 with OS X more and more. I may make the switch eventually. It’s about inertia and having benefits of switching that outweight the time involved in learning new behavior. That’s the key. If I haven’t switched, and I’m a geek, I can’t expect the non-geeks out there to switch.
Unfortunately, it’s up to the Linux community and associated companies to provide that incentive, or Microsoft’s to keep providing cons for using their’s. The linux community has proven it can innovate, drive new technologies and make a difference. The linux desktop still has a ways to go, and a few more apps to provide. I honestly believe it will get there and Linux will start challenging Windows outside of the data center where Linux is already making huge inroads.
The problem with writing about this is that there are so many things to say on the topic. I think this is a topic for the Geekery. I think I’ll start a decision guide, and a “Here’s What I Would Use For X” doc. Not sure where it will go, but I guess we’ll find out.