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Is the Linux Desktop Dead?

By rkuhn ·
Just a few quotes from a recent study:

http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9590_22-6134965.html?tag=nl.e550

Ironic the story comes out this week, the same week that I, a pro-Microsoft supporter, just loaded Fedora 6 to test out.

While I have zero intention of using Linux on my desktop, I do try to keep on open mind, I do try to learn about the alternatives, and I do try to keep abreast on the rest of IT (even if it is only a small percentage of the total).

We can argue until the cows come home on the technical merits of either OS, but it just seems quite clear that Linux can't overcome the one thing that makes Windows more used...a marketing plan.

"Research by the National Computing Centre (NCC) found only one Linux desktop for every 300 currently running Windows XP in UK organizations".

"Three-quarters of silicon.com's 12-strong CIO Jury backed the view that the Linux desktop dream is dead".

"At the moment there are too many options for the Linux desktop to support mass market tools".

"It is not free, as you pay for the support and there are so many flavors that it dilutes any potential attractiveness".

"Simply put, there are currently few business benefits that would justify such a switch from Microsoft to Linux for many IT departments".

"My view--to have any chance of gaining ground, Linux has to get ahead, rather than always be a couple of years behind".

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Linux Desktop dead? Not at all...

by TechExec2 In reply to Is the Linux Desktop Dead ...

Linux desktop is not dead at all. It is better than ever and more worthy of consideration than ever.

I love these panels of clueless nameless CIOs. Do you REALLY put your faith in such people?

:^0 :^0 :^0

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Clueless? Nameless?

by rkuhn In reply to Linux Desktop dead? Not a ...

The names were posted at the end of the article and there were some notable companies in there too.

Again, technical merits aside, I think their point was more business oriented...strategic, marketing, etc...rather than is Linux or Windows better.

There is definitely a problem with some aspects of Linux. Marketing is probably number one. How do you address that?

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I'm not sure you can

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Clueless? Nameless?

Marketting is a function of an economic business model. It's much more than advertising.

Branding, consistency, control. Choose one of the big distros and enter as a contributor and most of the arguments in terms of service and support get binned.

Technically there is no argument at the very least for all except some specialised areas, in terms of business functionality there is no difference.

User training, you can get desktops that make that equivalent to upgrading what version of office you are using. Power users would possibly need more training. Obviously IT and support would as well.

You can add up the benefits of a switch to linux as long as you like, the cost of simply doing the switch in a large organisation is enormous though and fairly quantifiable, the benefits tend to be a lot more fuzzy.

Try pushing that past a bean counter, when you are talking an outlay in millions just to achieve the benefits. Not even MS's much vaunted marketting effort could sell that.

Greenfield site, look at it.
If you are still on old kit (95/98), look at it versus a vista upgrade.

Because I and others say linux is better? you won't be able to sell that.

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But Part of That Business Economic Model

by rkuhn In reply to I'm not sure you can

Is also the public's perception of the product.

I, for one, have softened my stance about Linux (at least a little) over time as I have finally had the time to analyze the product better recently.

Again, technicalities aside (since I see the two products each having their own benefits and costs, ups and downs), what is Linux going to do to get that mass appeal?

Grant it, Linux is fighting an uphill battle against the immensely huge Microsoft marketing machine.

But what is Linux going to do to change the public's perception or even lack thereof of Linux?

Let's face it, the vast majority of desktop users haven't even heard about Linux and even if they have, they know nothing about it.

It's not good enough to double growth every year when you are starting at 1-2% of the market.

And believe me, this isn't one of my normal anti-Linux rants. I truly am interested in what Linux can do to accelerate their growth potential.

Besides, while I'm not a Linux user (I don't count testing and experimenting) and don't plan on it any time soon, I am interested in Linux, Apple, etc keeping Microsoft honest and otherwise at least attempting to keep the market competitive...the consumer benefits the most from all of this just like in the browser wars between IE vs FF.

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Linux isn't a 'brand' though

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to But Part of That Business ...

The distros are brands, some formally as in Redhat others non commercially such as Debian.
How does Redhat compete commercially with windows is a valid question, linux however only competes technically.

That might sound like nitpicking but you are sort of asking how cars compete with Toyota, a bit of a nonsense when you look at it that way.

If you want to look as the contention for number of installations between various linux distros and windows, doing it from a commercial perspective will leave you floundering, Linux is not commercially driven after all.
If Linux unified so it could compete with MS, it would lose it's current appeal and MS would kill off GlobalLinux before they could finish painting the logo on the head office wall.

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Yes But

by rkuhn In reply to Linux isn't a 'brand' tho ...

These are all great points but many argue that the "appeal" that you speak of, namely many different distros that appeal to all different types, is exactly what is preventing Linux from gaining mass appeal.

Without some "unified Linux", it is difficult to put up much of a challenge to a commercial OS like Microsoft.

I'm not justifying Microsoft's marketplace behaviour one way or another, but let's face it, there is a tremendous amount of momentum behind Windows.

Without some sort of "unified Linux", how can Linux or any individual distro put up much of a challenge for the desktop space?

I don't particularly like Linux myself, however, I do concede many technical merits to Linux. But again, the question is how does Linux or any distro of Linux compete with the commercial OS's like Microsoft?

Will Linux and all of its various flavors ever get a more meaningful amount of marketshare on the desktop?

It seems to me that Linux in the server room was an easier sale. How do you translate that success into the desktop market?

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You seem to have fallen into the trap

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Yes But

of wanting to judge Linux by the same criteria as windows.

You keep talking compete and market and commercial. I don't see anyone competing with MS on this front unless they self destruct.
It could only happen if they dropped the ball, stabbed it several times, poured acid over it and then set it on fire.

Personally I think linux should stick to it's strengths, attempting to compete with MS on their own ground is a mistake.

They'll have you for breakfast.

In terms of appeal, linux itself will not win the battle, it would have to be software that was wanted / needed that couldn't run under windows. The only candidates that I can think of would be 128 bit or maybe 256 if MS continue to lag on that front.

Bearing in mind the desktop market that would have to be games as far as I can see. You just don't need that sort of welly for basic desktop apps. Not even aeroglass needs it.

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Rickk, may I refer to what you said???

by Kiltie In reply to But Part of That Business ...

Quotes from yourself, here are not out of context, since they seem to be repeated throughout your posts.

While I have zero intention of using Linux on my desktop, I do try to keep on open mind

great, I wish everyone were that way about unbias, but I note your opening qualifier "zero intention"

it just seems quite clear that Linux can't overcome the one thing that makes Windows more used...a marketing plan

Marketing? Linux is not selling anything, it is just being good at what it does and getting better, it needs no massive promotional campaign to do that.

There is definitely a problem with some aspects of Linux. Marketing is probably number one. How do you address that?

Marketing is a M$ business model, no need for that for Linux, so no problem at all.

I, for one, have softened my stance about Linux (at least a little) over time as I have finally had the time to analyze the product better recently.

Good for you, maybe you are overcoming the prejudices, but only a little?

Grant it, Linux is fighting an uphill battle against the immensely huge Microsoft marketing machine.

Nope
Linux is not fighting any battle at all, it doesn't need to, it stays where it is, slowly growing.
M$ is losing ground all the time, it's pouring money into the Marketing Machine to slow the inevitable decline.

Read the tech news

It's not good enough to double growth every year when you are starting at 1-2% of the market.

While I would quibble about the year bit, 6 monthly is better, but assuming a year, use mathematics.

Doubling growth (let's split the difference, for sake of argument at 1.5 years)

Then in about 5 years that is about half the market

But I think it will be a lot sooner than that, maybe 2 years, because of other influences (that subject alone deserves another post).

And believe me, this isn't one of my normal anti-Linux rants


errrr well, ummmmm that kinda says it all, dunnit?

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I agree with you Tony about economic benefit

by RknRlKid In reply to I'm not sure you can

I recently became involved in the network administration of a church here where I live. They had been running 2 Windows 2000 servers, and about a dozen desktops running Windows 2000 Professional. The previous guy moved, and (of course) left no documentation, and nothing to prove they were running non-pirated software. My co-worker and I each independently came up with the exact same solution: redo everything and install Linux. She wanted Fedora Core, I wanted Ubuntu, but the end result is the same. They cannot afford to purchase new licenses for everything they own now, nor can they afford to purchase new hardware. A basic Linux distribution has everything they will need to run their church. And the price is right too...free.

When it comes down to economics, the choice is pretty clear. This church will save over $27,000 in software costs alone by switching to some form of Linux. The only costs they would incur at this point is in familiarizing the staff on how it works.

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Fedroa, Ubuntu and Xandros.

by skipplummer In reply to I agree with you Tony abo ...

You're absolutely right. There's nothing that MS can do that Fedora, Ubuntu or Xandros Linux based systems can't do. (Xandros is a low priced Linux based system that may do more than the other two.) Microsoft didn't really have a marketing system... short of making a deal that put it on every new PC years ago. Even today the PC itself is just a pile of low priced "hardware". All that you're paying for when you buy a new PC is the Microsoft operating system that's on it and, like it or not, people are in the MS habit.

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