Getting real about Linux on the desktop
Selective targeting is key
Reg Tech Panel Few topics in the IT industry are more contentious than the prospect of putting Linux on the corporate desktop. Opinions range from the religious view at one end, promoting a fundamentalist belief in open source as the saviour of mankind, to the reaction of corporate conservatives at the other, dismissing Linux as irrelevant to serious end user computing.
To date, the latter view has predominated, based largely on the assumption that migration of Windows user bases to Linux is generally more trouble than it’s worth. This has in turn perpetuated the significant inertia traditionally associated with the Microsoft dominated status quo.
Quite a bit has happened over the past couple of years, however, that arguably brings the desktop Linux discussion into more mainstream focus. Against the backdrop of initial goodwill from business users, Microsoft fumbled the ball quite badly with Vista, and while it soon to be releases successor Windows 7 is now being pretty well received, the whole experience has broken the Windows spell. For the first time, even the most loyal and accepting Microsoft shops have started to question the logic of simply moving automatically from one Windows version to the next.
We then have some interesting developments in the way applications are delivered to the desktop. With more and more interfaces to corporate systems and online services now being browser or RIA based, and the concept of virtualisation starting to bleed over from the server to the client side of the equation, the logic of the traditional ‘windowing fat client’ is being challenged in general.
It is ironic then that another pertinent development, namely the Mac chipping away at the edges of Windows estates, is actually a backwards step in architectural terms. The Mac desktop perpetuates the fat windowing client model of computing in an even more restrictive way by tying the operating system to the hardware and blocking any thoughts of an open virtual desktop approach. Nevertheless, the entry of Apple into the business mainstream (beyond its historical strongholds) represents another disruptive factor.
IT's the User, stupid
Lastly, we have the whole netbook phenomenon. While the jury might still be out on whether Microsoft or the Open Source camp have won the battle around smaller form factor devices, activity here has raised the visibility of client-side Linux and provided a lot of experience in how to package and roll out Linux-based offerings on a mass commercial basis. Indeed, there has been a lot more focus within the Linux community around issues such as usability and user acceptance, which is quite a departure from the traditional emphasis on perceived technical superiority.
So with all this going on and many in the Linux camp claiming a recession-friendly lowering in the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the desktop environment, has the time now come for businesses to consider a wholesale switch from Windows to Linux clients as the evangelists would advocate?
Next page: Ths short answer is
How does this make sense?
Why would organizations add additional complexity by identifying pockets of potential Linux desktop usage, when they struggle to maintain their existing infrastructure today? This approach has worked quite well in the server space. But unlike the numbers of servers deployed, the sheer magnitude of desktops/notebooks deployed would never lead a sane person to thinking they should try to make a fraction of those users different.
Driving down costs by using free software is an idealistic point of view and one that I admire and adhere to wherever and whenever possible. But the real facts are that labor costs generally far exceed any expenses related to the purchase and maintenance of the software involved. IT's the people, stupid.
Insert obligatory "I do run Windows when I need AutoCAD" here ;-)
"For the Mac retards, there are plenty of people who use PS on Windows" I doubt any "mac retards" have ever denied it. I wish people like you would just disappear, you nasty little shit. What is with this Photoshop/"high end graphics" obsession? Is it some badge of honour? Have you heard of Pixie or Aqsis? Blender? InkScape? All fine pieces of software if you understand the basic principles of computer graphics. Photoshop/Quark et c. just aren't the killer apps you make them out to be *BECAUSE* they are available on both platforms. How many of these people are using PhotoShop as a proverbial sledgehammer to the peanut that is the image editing that most of you hobbyists do. I have been using Photoshop *professionally* (on a "retarded mac) for 18 years. In those 18 years I have seen it become a bloated and expensive POS. The talent ISN'T IN THE FUCKING SOFTWARE. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS?! The GIMP is a perfectly capable image editor - always has been. So quit with "Don't say Gimp, just don't say it" lines and get a fucking clue you talentless twerp. For the record, Pixelmator on the Mac is my weapon of choice at the moment. It's like PhotoShop release 5.5 - IMHO the best release of PhotoShop.
The Linux kernel on the desktop has been ready for a couple of years - infact Ubuntu 9.04 is extremely easy to install AND extremely easy to use and configure. What is worrying to me is the amount of so called IT "professionals" (I'm sorry, if you only know 1 OS - you ain't no pro in my book - a blagger more like) that fear change. These so-called experts can't even cope with an interface change in the only OS that they *can* (barely) use - let alone their office suite! *How* can we expect them to use a different OS?! No, the only reason that Linux "isn't ready for the desktop" (tm) is because of the amount of pretenders that *really don't know what they are doing* working in IT today. How many of the 'features' that these idiots cite, do the average user use? I'm surprised AutoCAD hasn't been mentioned. There are people out ther that will prefer one OS to another FOR GENUINE REASONS - I accept that, and unless the reasoning is stupid ("I just don't like Jobs/Ballmer/Stallman/Torvalds et c.) I respect their opinions and move on.