"Since its introduction as a free operating system in 1991, the
Linux variant of Unix has become such a popular way to run servers
that a business has grown up around supplying, supporting and
charging for it. Even IBM has gotten into the act.
"Now, frustrated by a monopoly whose innovation in the face of
slower growth amounts to finding more efficient ways of extracting
money from captive customers, users are beginning to wonder whether
Linux could supplant Windows as a cheaper solution for desktop
machines. My disappointed but hopeful conclusion: For normal human
beings, not yet. But it's an outside possibility in corporate
situations where support is at hand, and it's getting tantalizingly
closer for the masses.
"A couple of years ago installing Linux was an exercise in
nonstop profanity. This time when I tried two different versions,
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