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DukeOfURL: Who Says Linux is Dead? (a pair of editorials on the Linux desktop)

Jun 22, 2001, 18:11 (24 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to Patrick Mullen for this link. ]

The DukeOfURL introduces opinion pieces to its editorial mix with this pair of columns about Linux, the desktop, and mainstream acceptance. The first The first says that members of the Linux community who argued that the Linux desktop is dead played into Microsoft's hands and threaten to repeat the mistakes of OS/2. The second maintains that Linux has all the apps it needs, and that user education is the key.

"Not too long ago a controversy ripped though the Linux community, causing widespread flame wars and demoralization throughout the open source community. The controversy continues to rage to this day and will forever more continue to rage, simply because the Linux community has just about collectively shot itself in the foot. This controversy was over the death of Linux on the desktop. All of this started when Eazel closed its doors and development of Nautilus came to a grinding halt (at least for the moment anyway).

It was presumed that Nautilus would be the impetus to put Linux on the desktop, bringing forth development of the much-needed applications that would make Linux successful. From Eazel would spring many applications such as office suites and communication tools. Eazel was to be the proof that Linux could go mainstream competing against Microsoft. Many cried out the day that Eazel died, crying out that the dream of Linux on the desktop was dead.

That was how we shot ourselves in the foot. It wasn't Microsoft that claimed Linux on the desktop was dead. They certainly want everyone to believe it, however; the server market is where they need to be. Why waste time fighting something that has only a 2% share in the desktop market? Why not fight the server market where Linux is approaching almost 30% of market share? In any case, it was a loud segment of the Linux community that cried out and declared Linux dead. Kevin Reichard of Linux Planet was one of the first to declare this as fact in his editorial, Editor's Note: RIP: Linux on the Desktop. I have great respect for this man (whom I have never met or even corresponded with) and his opinions. I seldom disagree with him on his insight into various matters in the Linux community. However, in this case I think he is wrong, as are the many others that posted similar sentiments. In one fell swoop we gave the greatest PR machine on the planet the fodder it was looking for: "Even the Linux community says it is so."

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"These days, computing is more than just a pastime, it's peoples' livelihood. Never before have I seen so much pain in the eyes of users about "another Windows upgrade" that won't fix their problems, and so much excitement about this new up and coming operating system. Which operating system is this? Why, Linux, of course. This supposedly washed-up operating system seems to be getting more and more mainstream, even though I'm being told it isn't.

The reason most people aren't picking it up isn't because it's hard, or it's scary, but simply because they don't think Linux can do what they need to do. I commonly hear "there's no office suite" or "the desktops need to mature" or "I need a proxy server," and the quotes go on and on and on. Day in and day out I hear these exact same phrases, and often times, users are very enlightened and often end up saying, "Linux can do that?"

The truth is, Linux has an office suite (Applixware, Star Office, KOffice, AbiSuite), Linux has mature desktops (KDE 2.1 -- most users have used KDE 1.1.2, I've found) and Linux has all the servers you could ever need, including that proxy server I found a user looking for (Squid). No one just knows it. The truth is, the more people are educated on exactly what Linux does, the more people might give it a try."

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