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Desktop Linux: That dog will mount

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LinuxWorld The Linux desktop reminds us of a dog humping a table leg. It's both fun and disturbing to watch, but ultimately there's very little payoff from the exercise.

Linux advocates, however, refuse to quit hoping that the leg humping will evolve into something spectacular. So we find yet another desktop panel discussion taking place at this year's LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco.

Dell and Ubuntu have taken strides toward blunting the Linux desktop criticism dished out by skeptics. The companies have an arrangement to pre-load Canonical's version of Linux on select notebooks and PCs. Lenovo this week responded in kind, saying it will plant Novell's SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 on ThinkPads in the fourth quarter.

Canonical's work strikes us as the major thing to have altered the Linux desktop scene in the last couple of years. The company's efforts around making Linux easier to use have succeeded. More importantly, perhaps, Canonical has revitalized the entire Linux desktop question with its own enthusiasm and that generated by loyal followers.

0f course, as you all know, the core of the big business Linux desktop push remains centered around corporate use, as opposed to satiating rabid developers.

"The enterprise Linux desktop has arrived," said John Cherry of the Linux Foundation, during today's panel. "Certainly, this year we have seen some major advances in the offerings.

"We are seeing huge deals starting to come across the radar screen. We expected them in Asia, India and those areas. We have seen them in the US and Europe as well."

Cherry added that the education, Asian government, thin client, call center and embedded markets are "hot, hot, hot." Apparently, desktop Linux is poised to take over the world.

"Probably the biggest and largest emerging market is in the mobile space and embedded," Cherry said, covering all the available bases. "We will see a lot of announcements over the next six months that will bear that out."

Such enthusiasm aside, shifting to desktop Linux remains a very pragmatic experience even for committed corporate users. Guy Lunardi, senior product manager at SuSE, confessed that Novell goes into companies and fingers the Linux guinea pigs one-by-one. "The first exercise we go through is segmenting the users to figure out which (ones) will be most appropriate to use the Linux desktop."

Oddly, Lunardi maintained that desktop Linux's limitations are "mostly just perceptions" at this point, so why does Novell bother with the show exercise of outing the damned?

Away from corporations, desktop Linux still proves far too troublesome for grandma. It suffers from limited driver, multimedia and power management support. The Linux community is, as always, beavering away on these issues and may well make something Windows comparable by 2020.

Canonical's Chris Kenyon, a director of business development, was meant to convince us out of such pessimism during the panel but was a no-show.

All hail the humping desktop. And be sure to check out Fluendo. ®

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