Linux has been making headlines for quite a while now, and has been puzzling the Wintel monopoly and pirated software vendors equally. Quest for Linux now is not that how famous is it, but how many people would be using this OS.
Compaq, HCL, Zenith, HP, IBM and host of local assemblers are preloading their PCs with Linux. But, just because Linux is ready for the desktop does not mean that users are also ready for Linux. Ordinary users have been comfortable with MS and find Linux too revolutionary to use. Result is reloading the Linux loaded PC with a pirated software.
Linux open source groups have made it clear that it is not about snatching users from MS Windows but about growth of this open source community. Linux is open source development that offers everything everyone wants in it and the pursuit is to give it a space to grow further. Most of the industry experts and followers of this community believe that it is a matter of corporate and end-user inertia that is keeping Linux still in the hands of technical experts and computer labs. Once the users understand that Linux not only performs day-to-day activities with immaculate accuracy but also is dependable and can sustain mission critical functions, it might win more users than headlines.
Local assemblers are waking up from the slumber of having no choice for OSs and are preloading the assembled PCs with Linux productivity suites. Most of them load the PC with a Linux OS to protect themselves from the legal hassle of preloading software, which costs a fortune.
There are two markets for desktop Linux. One is the individual user and the other is the business organization. Latter’s OS needs are well known–reliability, security, compatibility with existing data and devices, and the availability of applications they need to accomplish their business objectives.
To compete on the desktop level, Linux outscores all these criteria and is at least as reliable and secure as Windows XP. Microsoft might have the edge in compatibility with existing data and peripherals, but Linux has the edge in compatibility with existing clients–one might have to buy a whole new PC to upgrade from Windows 98 or 2000 Professional to XP. There’s now a greater range of open source applications for users.
On the server side, Linux is well known as a stable and reliable platform, providing database and trading services for companies like Amazon, US Post Office, the German army and others. Especially, ISPs have grown fond of Linux as firewall, proxy and Web server. Clusters of Linux machines were used in the creation of movies such as `Titanic’ and `Shrek’. These are only a few of the thousands of heavy-duty jobs that Linux is performing day-to-day across the world. It is also worth to note that modern Linux not only runs on workstations, mid and high-end servers, but also on gadgets like PDAs, mobiles, a shipload of embedded applications and even on experimental wristwatches. This makes Linux the only OS in the world covering such a wide range of hardware.
To give better service level to the users, various companies such as RedHat, Suse and Turbo have sprung up, providing packaged Linux distributions suitable for mass consumption. Most Linux distributions offer a set of programs for generic PCs with special packages containing optimized kernels for the x86 Intel-based CPUs. These distributions are well-tested and maintained on a regular basis, focusing on reliant server implementation and easy installation and update procedures.
Linux also runs decently on laptops and middle-range servers. Drivers for new hardware are included only after extensive testing, which adds to the stability of a Linux system. They have integrated a great deal of graphical user interfaces (GUIs), developed by the community, in order to ease management of programs and services.
While development in the service area continues, great things are being done for desktop users, generally considered as the group least likely to know how a system works. Developers of desktop applications are making incredible efforts to make the most beautiful desktops one has ever seen, or to make the Linux machine look just like a former MS Windows or Mac workstation. The latest developments also include 3D acceleration support and support for USB devices, single-click updates of system and packages, and so on. Linux has these, and tries to present all available services in a logical form that ordinary people can understand.