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Tamil Linux World: 2003-India Paves Road for the Linux Desktop

Mar 07, 2003, 01:00 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Venkat Venkataramanan)

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"That perennial question of Linux On The Desktop (LOTD) dangles at the end of 2002. Who is going to break the ice? 2002 saw several Open Source companies getting ready for it. RedHat is seen testing waters with its bluecurve, Mandrake continues to make inroads in the ease-of-use. Year 2002 also saw Sony Vaios, with their thumbwheels running Debians, projecting OpenOffice Impress across board rooms. But, which is going to be the first major company to sell and support a Linux based personal computers?

"There are two thorny issues before the Dells and HPs of the world start shipping the penguins; 1. Support--they need to invest a lot of money on getting there, this includes equipping and reskilling their polite but not-so-savvy 'How may I help you today?' voices. 2. Standing the Open Source's rigorous quality control scrutiny. How may of them will be willing to open their inside to the million constantly prying eyeballs? How many of them are confident in themselves? These are much more than running brazen ads like 'XXX recommends $oft for frequent flyers with capsule computers.' This is about answering that impatient adolescent calling from his basement as he is struggling to compile Apache with mySQL and PHP, itching to inch ahead of his peers in publishing skateboard adventures on the Web. Given these two issues, honestly, I do not see a big name Linux PC purchased in the US malls or through the Shopping Carts on their websites. Not in 2003, not with any degree of measured optimism.

"On the other hand, in economies like India it is a different game; the only operative rule is 'value-for-the-rupee'. The concept of technical support is often unheard of in a country like India, where users are left to figure it out themselves. There is not much of after-sales customer relations. It is all about getting it there to the market, pushing it hard and letting the buyer inherit the uses and woes. Companies hardly have the 1-800 kind of service. After sales relations are mostly left with the local dealer who stands by the product and sends someone home (in his bicycle) to fix it. And it is this very mechanism, I believe, is going to push Linux PCs in to the living rooms faster than any other country..."

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