A Linux OS For All


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It is probably no surprise that I am a fan of Linux, but that does not mean I am a hater of Windows. I use Microsoft, Linux and Apple products regularly, and there are upsides and downsides to each.

FRANK J. OHLHORST
Can be reached via e-mail at fohlhorst@cmp.com.

While Microsoft reigns supreme on the desktop, alternatives are slowly gaining market share. The question now becomes what's the holdup? Why are those other operating-system vendors finding success on the desktop so difficult?

With Apple, the answer is simple, Apple OSes only come with Apple hardware, and until the vendor makes a version of its OS available for generic hardware, it will remain a bit player in the desktop market.

Linux, on the other hand, does not have that excusethe operating system should be popping up all over the place. From my experience, the features I like about Linux are probably also the biggest limiting factor to its widespread adoption on the desktop. Linux proves to be infinitely customizable and has a plethora of applications available, yet those excellent capabilities bring confusion to the product. Therein lies the problem. While I like to poke around the underpinnings of an OS and "do my own thing," most of the users out there do not. What's more, the typical solution provider doesn't have hours to waste figuring out drivers or installing applications.

Linux distributors such as Novell, Xandros and Linspire have made great strides toward simplifying Linux, but if you are dealing with different hardware or third-party software, you are stuck in the realm of downloads, compiles and so on to get those new elements to work. For Linux to really take off, hardware and driver support, along with third-party software installations, need to take a page from Microsoft's book and truly become plug-and-play easy. Windows has set the bar for ease of driver and software support; purveyors of Linux need to reach that bar to really make things happen on the desktop.

The market needs less focus on the gadgets, gizmos and overabundance of choices and more on the end-user experience. Simply put, Linux companies need to focus on providing an operating system that enables hardware to work the way it should, software that is easy to install and use, and an interface that is easy to understand.

How do you think Linux can gain more traction? Let me know at (516) 562-7455 or via e-mail at fohlhorst@cmp.com.

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