Linux Making Headway in Desktop Space

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-07-10 Print this article Print

It's not a killer desktop app, says OSAF's Mitch Kapor, but Linux is making a steady march toward the desktop while putting pressure on Microsoft.

PORTLAND, Ore.—Linux is not going to take over the desktop space anytime soon, but is making significant headway in vertical markets, Mitch Kapor, the chair of the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF) and founder of Lotus Development Corp., said here on Thursday. "It has been a long march to the Linux desktop, and I am convinced that Linux will wind up with a greater share of the desktop market over time," he said in his OReilly Open Source Convention (Oscon) keynote address, titled "Open Source on the Mainstream Desktop."
Kapor said his first encounter with free software was in 1985, when he was still at Lotus. "I met Richard Stallman [the founder of the free software movement], who was picketing the company for our look and feel lawsuits. I thought at that time that free software was one of those hopelessly idealistic ideas," he said. But the industry and Kapors views have changed.
Linux is now so successful on the server that it has begun to attract "parasites who had no business model except litigation," he said, referring to The SCO Groups lawsuit against IBM, to loud applause from the audience. Linux and open-source software are putting pressure on Microsoft Corp., its prices and licensing terms. As hardware prices continue to fall, Microsofts software prices remain high in comparison, Kapor said. There is also growing resistance in the enterprise to forced upgrades and resentment to onerous licensing conditions, all of which are contributing to the growing awareness of alternatives, he said. "The climate is more conducive now to an alternative, and there are a lot of Linux success stories around the desktop, underscored by recent moves like the city of Munichs shift to Linux desktops," he said. "Microsoft can and will cut its prices to stop Linux desktop deployments. But simply having a government-mandated program for Linux on the desktop doesnt always work because if the users dont like it, they will replace it with a bootleg copy of other software," he said.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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