Linux Is Ready to Roll, With or Without Office

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2002-10-14 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

If ever there were a case of the tail wagging the dog, this is an example.

When I construct a spreadsheet in Microsofts Excel, I typically use only one layer of formulas and data. When I save the result, I often "Save As" an Excel 2.1 Worksheet, rather than take the default of saving a more complex Workbook of multiple Worksheets (all but one of which would be empty). In a typical case that I just tested, the difference is a 3KB Worksheet compared with a 14KB Workbook containing exactly the same stuff.

Multiply that difference by the number of spreadsheets stored on your companys PCs, and you wont wonder why disk space grows more quickly than any other dimension or capacity of desktop computing.

This comes to mind whenever someone tells me that its not practical to move corporate PC users to Linux-based desktop machines; not until there are feature-for-feature competitors for the Microsoft Office applications that dominate most office settings. If ever there were a case of the tail wagging the dog, this is an example.

Im not dismissing the benefits of a suite as capable as Office. I wrote my first book with my highly customized copy of Mansfield Software Groups KEdit; I wrote my second with Microsoft Word. The outline mode in Word made it wonderfully easy to reorganize chapters by moving paragraphs, or subsections, while using a high-level structural view.

On the other hand, I also had opportunity to appreciate Words file recovery mechanisms on the several occasions when it crashed—something I dont believe has ever, ever, ever happened in my decade or so of using KEdit with what have sometimes been truly enormous files of data as well as text.

I dont believe application feature lists should dictate enterprise platform choices any more than employees individual preferences for Ford or Toyota seat adjustment mechanisms should decide what cars get bought for the motor pool. Were talking about enterprise tools, not the choice between a Yamaha or a Steinway piano for the featured guest soloist at the Philharmonic.

The bargain-priced applications available today for Linux are more than enough to get the job done—and its time for those who pay the bills to say so.

Tell me why you need every feature at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

 
 
 
 
Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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