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By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2004-02-09 Print this article Print

Linux, unlike Windows, can be customized to the nth degree. While this can be a disadvantage as well—too many choices paralyze some IT buyers—if your office wants to set up its desktop operating system to make the most of your AMD processors while running a minimum of system services, Linux is clearly your better choice.

Now, Microsoft knows that some customers want that kind of control already, since Longhorn will eventually be available as components. OEMs will then be able to mix and match components to build customized boxes. With Linux, though, you can already do that whether youre a computer manufacturer or accountings system administrator.

As for security on the desktop, I only have three words for you: MyDoom, Blaster and SoBig. Nuff said.

Longhorn will, so the theory goes, be much more secure than any of its predecessors, but then so was Server 2003. And, as we all know, Server 2003 has proven to be almost as vulnerable as the rest of the NT/W2K family to attacks. Besides, Longhorn is a long way off.

As I look at the sudden flood of business Linux desktops from both big companies—Sun, Novell/SuSE and Red Hat—and small ones—Lindows and Xandros and open-source community based, like Bruce Perens Desktop Linux Consortium—I realize I was wrong when I said recently that 2004 wouldnt be the year of the Linux desktop. With prices, Windows virus problems and the rapid advance of the Linux desktop, this will be Linuxs year.

I think Microsoft knows that too. So, I, for one, wont be surprised if by years end we dont see an XP Lite that will run on older hardware, incorporate the best of Microsofts security work and, last but never least, cost less than a $100. If the Linux desktop grows the way I think it will this year, I dont see that Microsoft will have any choice in the matter.

Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. Be sure to check out eWEEK.coms Linux and Open Source Center for the latest Linux news, views and analysis.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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