April 23, 2003

Linux Is Ready For Some Desktops, Not Others

- Jesse Smith -
A recent post on Linux.com and NewsForge.com, stating that Linux is, in fact,
ready for the desktop has resulted in quite a stir. At the moment, nearly 300
comments (and counter-comments) have been made. Many of these make good points, but most are plagued with a narrow view. I think the question is not so much if Linux is
ready for the desktop, rather we should think about what you want your desktop computer to do.

I think that the whole âready for the desktopâ debate is completely silly. For every category of end user and developer out there, there is a different set of requirements. Some users use their desktop machines primarily for playing DOS/Windows games and playing music, for example. I would not recommend a Linux machine to these users. Another group is a business group that buys DOS/Windows software and that's all their desktops do. I see no reason for these customers to leave their Windows boxes and switch to Linux.

However, for an end user who uses his/her computer to check e-mail, surf the web and/or play music, I think Linux is an excellent choice of operating system. For a business that wants stable, secure computers for networking and Office applications, I would also say Linux comes out on top. There are, of course, other users, like graphic design artists, who would probably say âNothing but a Mac.â

My point is that every user/developer has different needs to be filled by his/her desktop computer. Linux can certainly fill the needs of several categories of users. Not all. I will use myself as an example, if I may. I like using Linux and have, on and off, for about three years. However, I develop Windows software, have some unusual hardware, and a number of DOS/Windows games which aren't properly emulated/supported yet under Linux. For these reasons, I find that Windows (and a number of open source applications) cover all of my software needs. On the other hand, I have recommended Linux to some family and friends. These are people that would use their desktop machine to check e-mail and write office documents. Linux would easily supply them with a fine system.

It is my belief that Linux is a strong operating system. It is quickly growing in quality and user-friendliness. However, whether it is âreadyâ for a desktop depends entirely upon whose desk it is sitting.

About Jesse Smith: "I have been using Linux on and off for about three years now. I've used it primarily to develop web based applications and for security purposes. About a year ago I worked with the Phat Linux project, providing patches, upgrades and techincal support.

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Editor's Note: Your byline can be on NewsForge, just like Jesse's. We welcome reader commentary. Please make sure you include your full name and contact information with your submission. Don't get too concerned about perfect spelling or grammar. If you have a strong point to make, and make it clearly, we can "fix" the technical details, no problem.

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