The Chicken, the Egg and the Linux Desktop

Opinion: Here are some reasons why the Linux desktop has been so slow in coming: good, bad and interesting.

I recently wrote about why the Linux desktop needs major vendor support before it can take off.

I got a lot of letters about that one, so rather than write everyone back individually, Ill say here why I still think the Linux desktop, more than anything else, needs big-time—Gateway, Dell, HP—support before it can be a big-time success.

First, some folks seem to think that the vendors already offer Linux desktops. I wish!

The only one that really supports the Linux desktop is HP, but its only selling to the business market, not the mass market.

Another writer wants a mass-market integrated Linux desktop.

I think that would help. And better still, it looks like were getting the program foundations, thanks to the Portland Project, to make that happen.

But, you know, with KOffice and 2.0, we pretty already much have the basics.

Still other folks think that the Linux desktop needs more family-friendly programs like calendar makers, simple desktop publishing software, educational games and the like. I think those would help, but I dont see them as key.

After all, Joe Familyman first needs to find a Linux desktop before worrying about Candyland for Linux.

What would help more, as one guy pointed out, is more business software such as payroll programs and the like.

Still, I think this is a chicken-and-egg problem. You cant expect software vendors to spend money developing, say, QuickBooks for Linux (come on, Intuit!), if no one has any boxes to run it on.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about how Linspire and Ingram Micro are bringing the Linux desktop to the channel.

Some folks still dont get that Windows is just flat-out more expensive and every bit as hard as Linux to keep running. My favorite example of the latter is from "Catbert," who wrote, "it took a registry tweak to lower the MTU on my sisters W2K laptop so that it could share my ADSL connection"

What more need be said?

As for expenses, others point out that its not just the cost of the operating system and the main applications. There, we all know Linux wins hands down. But running Windows also nicks you in other ways.

For example, if youre running Windows you must buy an anti-virus program, no ifs, ands or buts. My personal favorites are Symantecs Norton AntiVirus and one you might not have heard of from a UK company called Grisoft, AVG, which is really good and fast as blazes.

Of course, all of these add to Windows cost. I just spent a couple of hundred dollars yesterday on a small business license for Norton AntiVirus 2006. I like to think of it as part of the Windows tax.

Next Page: Linspire explains where OEMs stand.