IBMs Blue Linux on the Desktop

Is a IBM desktop version of Linux a good idea?

Although nobody has been able to smuggle out a single screenshot of the top-secret IBM Linux desktop OS—often referred to as Blue Linux—I have friends who have seen it. I am assured that it not only exists, but is being used by large numbers of IBMers. "They are going through a process of eating their own dog food right now," I was told.

The bad news is that the company may sit on the OS for up to two years before actually releasing it. I saw a gossip item about this, and an IBM insider confirmed the self-imposed delay to me. Can IBM be pushed onto a faster track with this product? Someone had better do that.

Id guess the OS has already been smuggled out into the real world. Its just a matter of time before a copy turns up on some forum. Im certain the recent announcement by Microsoft that its Unix tools will now be free has something to do with the IBM Linux Desktop OS. By getting people dependent on these tools before IBM rolls out any sort of Linux offering, Microsoft can find some unique ways to lock out or marginalize the IBM product. Over the years, IBM has been humiliated time and time again by failing to see Microsoft marketing maneuvers coming, and there is no reason to suspect this will end anytime soon.

Why is a desktop version of Linux a good idea? Because the software scene is slowly stagnating under the dominance of a very few vendors who have top loaded their pricing to such an extent that users are spending far more on software than hardware. Hardware prices have dropped dramatically over the past 25 years, while software prices have increased. Now that the public has been cowed into accepting various software activation schemes, more and more money is being extracted from hapless users at monopolistic prices. No tire kicking allowed any more.

I was at Costco the other day, and Microsoft Windows XP upgrades were $185. Why should an upgrade to the OS cost so much? The full version, if you can find it, lists at $299. While Microsoft Windows XP offers users an agreeable standard platform, when you can get a barebones computer for less than the OS, spending this much money is hard to rationalize.

For the rest of the column, click here.