Desktop Linux: Ready for the mainstream

Governments and major businesses can adopt Linux for many users, rather than pay the high costs of Vista or Windows 7

It's been a decade since Linux proponents first argued their OS was ready for mainstream adoption. Yet for all intents and purposes, Linux remains nonexistent on "regular" people's desks. Sure, developers and other tech experts use Linux, but that's about it.

So when my colleague Neil McAllister, made the case for desktop Linux, I snorted, "Give me a break! Desktop Linux is nowhere." He challenged me to try it myself. He had a point: It had been a decade since I fired up any desktop Linux distro. So I accepted his challenge.


See a comparison of Microsoft Office alternatives for Linux.

My verdict: Desktop Linux is a great choice for many regular Joes with basic computer needs. And not just on netbooks.

In fact, I found that it makes a lot of sense to standardize office workers on desktop Linux. I now understand why governments in Asia and Europe say they want to get off the Microsoft train and shift to Linux. I thought these were empty threats meant to get better licensing deals or to blunt some of Microsoft's monopolistic power, but as it turns out, desktop Linux is a worthwhile option for both public organizations and private companies. Those who standardize on Linux would save serious money on the new equipment needed for Vista or Windows 7, not to mention OS and Office upgrades as well. Your business could, too.

Moreover, Linux-based shops would require significantly less training than they would to teach staff Vista or Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2007.

Let's face reality: Most people use just Microsoft Office, e-mail, and the Web at work. For that, you don't need an expensive, resource-hogging suite like Office or a piggy operating system like Windows Vista or Windows 7. You don't even need my favorite OS, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. Plus, adopting Linux will solve some of IT's headaches when it comes to PC management.

Let me explain.

An easier transition from XP than going to VistaI set up a virtual machine on my Mac and loaded Ubuntu 8.1. (Why Ubuntu? Reviewers single it out as the best desktop Linux. Many folks like Novell's Suse as well. And there are other Linux choices.) It booted like a real OS, with the familiar GUI of Windows XP and its predecessors and of the Mac OS: icons for disks and folders, a standard menu structure, and built-in support for common hardware such as networks, printers, and DVD burners.

Yes, I know that a Parallels Desktop or EMC VMware Fusion virtual machine is not a real PC, with all the variables per PC model that can make Linux not work on some models. But that's beside the point. Dell and others offer Linux-equipped PCs if you want that assurance. If you have a standard desktop configuration in your business, you'll find out quickly if it's Linux-compatible. And yes, you may discover that Linux doesn't work on your laptops, as blogger Randall C. Kennedy learned when he tried Ubuntu 8.04 a year ago.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Linux

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Galen Gruman

InfoWorld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?