Page Two

By Larry Seltzer  |  Posted 2004-01-16 Print this article Print

Now, as a Linux advocate, I might still view this as a big step forward. This is the view taken by Bruce Perens with his UserLinux initiative. Perens has taken a lot of guff from KDE snobs over his decision to use GNOME. Debates like KDE vs. GNOME arent as common or vicious as they used to be, but theyre still a big part of Linux culture and administrative issues. Imagine having to deal with training or support for Linux and having multiple distributions, KDE and GNOME to deal with. Likewise, when dealing with your friends, relatives, school, whatever. If Linux on the desktop is going to go big time it has to mean one consistent thing.

So the ironic result could be that for Linux to be successful on the desktop, it needs to develop a monoculture all its own. Popularity of Linux on the desktop will also mean popularity of Mozilla, OpenOffice and a few other things that will become more popular targets for attackers as their prominence grows. Randomly broadcast e-mails with social engineering attacks on this Linux desktop platform will stand a better chance of success; imagine the genuine-looking e-mail from with a "security patch" attached to it and instructions for installation.

Linux on the desktop has a catch-22: Either it consolidates around a more consistent platform that can be thought of as "Linux" in the same way as Windows (or major versions of Windows), or the PC industry will have plenty of reasons to resist it. Not a happy set of facts.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983. Be sure to check out at for the latest security news, views and analysis.

More from Larry Seltzer

Larry Seltzer has been writing software for and English about computers ever since—,much to his own amazement—,he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983.

He was one of the authors of NPL and NPL-R, fourth-generation languages for microcomputers by the now-defunct DeskTop Software Corporation. (Larry is sad to find absolutely no hits on any of these +products on Google.) His work at Desktop Software included programming the UCSD p-System, a virtual machine-based operating system with portable binaries that pre-dated Java by more than 10 years.

For several years, he wrote corporate software for Mathematica Policy Research (they're still in business!) and Chase Econometrics (not so lucky) before being forcibly thrown into the consulting market. He bummed around the Philadelphia consulting and contract-programming scenes for a year or two before taking a job at NSTL (National Software Testing Labs) developing product tests and managing contract testing for the computer industry, governments and publication.

In 1991 Larry moved to Massachusetts to become Technical Director of PC Week Labs (now eWeek Labs). He moved within Ziff Davis to New York in 1994 to run testing at Windows Sources. In 1995, he became Technical Director for Internet product testing at PC Magazine and stayed there till 1998.

Since then, he has been writing for numerous other publications, including Fortune Small Business, Windows 2000 Magazine (now Windows and .NET Magazine), ZDNet and Sam Whitmore's Media Survey.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel